Pattern Behind the Shelves

taup and white Chinoiserie wallpaper behind living room shelvesUsing 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.

Hand painted black and white zig-zag pattern behind bookshelvesOne 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?

taupe and white damask pattern wallpaper in the back of a glass-front upper kitchen cabinetThe 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.

brown and white stylized wishbone pattern wallpaper behind closet shelvesWallpaper 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.

(Source:  oharainteriors, house beautiful, pinterest, mybluecanoe)

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3 Responses to “Pattern Behind the Shelves”

  1. mbwife June 22, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

    You just kind of threw that in there – “wallpaper originated in closets”. Tell MORE!

  2. RHome410 June 23, 2012 at 2:26 am #

    It’s a little busy for me in the shelves with colorful and textured contents, but I love the pattern behind the white dishes, and it’s a lot of fun in the closet!

  3. Jane F @ Atticmag June 25, 2012 at 9:13 am #

    I like pattern inside a closet. Wallpaper started up in the 18th century. Believed they did hand block printing and it was called domino — probably because of domino pattern or that the sheets of paper were small and fit together. Then allover pattern moved into rooms. They would do a pattern on walls and same fabric on furniture. You see it from time to time now. The looks would change with seasons. What we know as interior decorating actually began in the 18c in France and England. I’d love to do wallpaper inside my closets. Or stencil — which may be a good place to practice that LOL since I have glass doors.

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