Using bold pattern behind shelves is a detail we’ve been seeing since wallpaper swept back into style.
I like it in principle but feel it should be approached very carefully since it’s not for every room. At best, it’s a great way to “fill” shelves without adding clutter. At worst, it can pull attention away from a primary focal point to one that should be secondary.
It’s hard to tell from this cutaway photo [top] just how the Chinese lattice pattern relates to the rest of this transitional room. The key here, for me, is the smart use of glass shelving. That transparency lets the muscular whites in the design create continuity with the walls and really offsets fairly boring accessories on the shelves. Not everyone has fabulous “stuff” (as an antiques dealer friend of mine refers to collectibles) so an arrangement like this really does show the power of pattern.
One side of a pair of apartment living room built-ins features a hand-painted herringbone pattern in back. The Lee Industries love seat sits between the units, which have drawers and cabinets below the shelves on each side. While the pattern really jazzes up the shelving it also dwarfs the furniture – the entire set up can be seen in the May 2012 House Beautiful. While the accessories on the shelves are fairly interesting, they get lost visually and solid shelves in a tight grid don’t help. I’d lose all the shelves and just hang super-bold pieces of art in the niches. More bang for the buck I think. Wouldn’t you agree?
The damask pattern behind the shelves in this kitchen cabinet looks like paper. The same effect could well be achieved with tile which also could deftly continue a handsome backsplash behind upper cabinets. This reminds me of our Damask Tile Kitchen, which has even more.
Wallpaper originated in closets and this stylized interlocking wishbone pattern shows why it’s been used since the 18th century. I adore pattern inside closets, which strokes my retail therapy gene by putting clothes and shoes against a store-like background that almost makes it seem I’ve gone shopping in my closet almost every time I get dressed.