You love it but can’t find a place for it — that spun-glass angel, a treasured figurine, the small poinsettia-painted plate. You scan the room, seeking a flat surface that isn’t already spoken for.
Set your sights higher: Picture a space perfect for a shelf. Never mind if there’s never been one there. Once you get the shelf installed, it’ll seem as if it always belonged there.
“Installed?” Don’t let the word put you off. After consulting with local experts, installing shelves can be done with some easy steps.
First decide where to place the shelf (and note the advice below). Valerie Steil at Mark T. Nielsen Interiors in Valparaiso, Ind., suggests choosing a focal point — at the end of a hallway, for example. You may not want to place it too near a Christmas tree so the tree and shelf aren’t competing for attention. Consider something away from the living room or other well-decorated space. A bedroom wall may beg for something shiny this season.
Add a little pizzazz in an unexpected place. “My favorite ornament is in my bath. Someone made an ornament out of a copper toilet float, dolled it up with copper wire and colored beads; it’s adorable,” said Steil. “Take a walk through the hardware store — you never know what you’ll find.” If it’s a rather dark space or corner, Steil suggests a small, lighted ceramic Christmas tree.
Old mercury glass items and brass pieces always brighten a space, said Steil. A collection of candlesticks in varying heights adds interest, turning a ho-hum area into a celebratory show.
Anything is possible — not that you should necessarily go all willy-nilly. Catherine Lloyd, interior decorator and owner of Decorating Den in St. John, Ind., advises grouping similar items together. After all, “It doesn’t make sense to put a Santa, a tree and a nativity scene together.”
Now is the time to show off your collection of Santas or nativity figures. If you already have a handy shelf that’s holding photos, consider swapping those out for photos from Christmases past. Steil and her friends have a tradition of making Christmas cookies. “We had a ball looking over the photos we took of us making cookies over the years,” Steil said. Lloyd said she likes to put out Christmas cards with friends’ and loved ones’ photos on them.
Time for a tradition
Young families can start their own traditions with a shelf dedicated to mementos of holidays, heirloom ornaments or for starting their very own collection. Rhonda Rettig, manager at Maria’s Hallmark in Munster, Ind., said among the hottest trends for holiday collections are angels, with Madame Alexander and the wooden Willow Tree ones high on collectors’ lists. “We have Hallmark keepsake ornaments that are popular,” said Rettig, and the young and young at heart are beaming up for Star Trek collectibles. Frosty the Snowman is always a fave figure.
Speaking of tradition: Small hooks or rods underneath a shelf make a handy place to hang stockings waiting to be filled or bigger, bright ornaments.
Already have a shelf and love it the way it is? “Adding a little fresh greenery pulls everything together and smells nice,” said Lloyd. “Or you can tuck in little, shiny ornaments here and there on the shelf.”
Perhaps the most traditional shelf is already there: a fireplace mantel, which is usually a more formal focal point, said Lloyd. A substantial piece of wood even without a fireplace can serve as a mantel.
If you’re in a holiday woodworking mood, choose a solid piece of lovely hardwood at Von Tobel Lumber in Valparaiso, Ind. Robert, their sales associate who goes by, just Robert, is nonetheless enthusiastic about choosing the right lumber. Though cost depends on the size and type of wood, an 8-inch pine board goes for only $6.40, and you can get two shelves out of that. For more elegance and strength, 12-inch-wide oak serves well for heavier pieces like village displays. Some pieces are even prefinished.
For total convenience you can order a shelf to your specification at DeYoung Interiors in St. John.
Whatever you decide, ‘tis the season to be festive, so let your home reflect the holiday’s cheerful glow.