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Ask a Designer: How Much Do Styled Shelves Cost?

We get questions all the time regarding how much things are going to cost- and of course, it's one of the most important questions because a successful outcome depends on understanding how much to allocate to each part of the project. From a designer's perspective, it is a bit of a loaded question, especially before everything is fleshed out because there are so many factors at play. The truth is, a good team should be able to give you a good idea of what the cost of things will be once the scope of the project is understood, As a full-service design firm, our job is to take a project from inception to completion- and that includes planning for and installing both furnishings and accessories to complete the room. This is where a space moves from: 'great but we'll finish it when we get to it' to 'it's the end of the project and not one thing was left undone'. Anyone desiring full-service design will appreciate being able to get to the end of the project with everything accounted for and not a lot of unexpected costs.

a media wall with built in shelves that are styled for fall

While it is necessary to understand those costs, oftentimes the end parts of the project (i.e. furnishings & accessories) get overlooked within the budget. The end result is having to delay (or completely forego) the implementation of those final finishing details because it wasn't figured in upfront. To that end, we thought it would be helpful to talk through a question we get regularly- how much do styled shelves cost? Keep in mind there is an art to styling- two people can be given an identical space, and identical items, and the outcome in both instances will end completely different. So while you can purchase all the 'right stuff' it's just as important to understand the principles of how to style well. Check out the links below for some great resources on how to style shelves. Additionally- this is meant to be a general guide. The sky could be the limit for the articles chosen for the shelves but we want to give you a realistic sense of what you can expect..

wood shelves styled with fall decor, vintage books, and vases

So- Let's talk shelves. How much do you have to spend? Since you can be looking at anything from around 12-36" wide with varying heights and varying amounts of items, that obviously affects the budget. When adding accessories to shelving, typically it is a good idea to think in terms of budget per shelf. We find for an average-sized shelf, the budget starts at $100. The client's taste, amount of items, and the value of the house also affect the cost of items chosen. Regardless, the $100/shelf rule has served us well as a starting point to achieve well-curated shelves.

In our field example; we are revisiting the shelves in our 5 Top Tips to Styling Shelves (link) post. It is a built-in media wall that has 2 columns of 5 rows on each side and a large, and high shelf bridging the sides. So essentially we had 21 shelves we are dealing with. For the caliber of homes we work on, a base investment price would be 21 shelves at $100 per shelf = $2100. Another thing to keep in mind is this is only for the shelving in the room, not for accessorizing the entire room. To be fair, shelves eat up a lot of the accessory budget so while looking at the entire room, you will see a good percentage of it going to shelving. Sometimes hearing that number can be shocking, but the truth is we have found that most clients have never taken the time to break it down like that. And we don't blame them- because when you buy things over time, you simply don't keep track of how much everything costs. Below, see the breakdown of our example.

wood shelves styled for fall with vases, vintage books, and fall decor



Vintage books


Design/coffee table books










In this example, the amount of items on each shelf is fairly restrained. Increasing the number of items will obviously increase the investment amount. Hopefully, this guide will be helpful in providing realistic expectations so you can plan appropriately for your next project!

Now that you know how much to budget, to get inspiration for how to style your shelves, check out our 5 top tips or another great article about how to style shelves here .

"We shape our homes and then our homes shape us."

- Winston Churchill

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