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Definition of étagère

a piece of furniture consisting of a set of open shelves for displaying small objects and sometimes having an enclosed cabinet as a base

By Merriam-Webster

While we are renting a house in Seattle, we are slightly unmotivated to settle in and put our hearts into decorating.  Previously, our faux bamboo étagère has had other uses, but in this home, it landed in the family room.  Slowly, it has become a display of souvenirs and treasures.

The night I returned from finishing my parent’s floors, I sat on the sofa in our TV lit family room, staring almost blankly at the étagère across from me.  Then I started focusing on the shelves and reminiscing over each item displayed.


Faux Bamboo Étagère Display Shelving

It’s not the prettiest display, but it’s not the ugliest either.  As a decorator, I think pretty is always best.  I have spent little time decorating and since everything in this étagère tells a story, it’s good for now and it supports my 4 Tips for an Étagère Shelving Display.  Perhaps, I will refine it and show this as a “before” photo later!


Favorite Books Serve as A Riser for Jon’s Great Aunt Agnes’ Hawaiiana Head and Vintage Vivienne Westwood Platforms Sit Adjacent

The shoes, shoe books, Hawaiiana head, cribbage board, Havaianas book, Guess book and little pewter horse technically are Jon’s (though everything we have is really ours).

The Chinese Bridal box was a gift to me from Jon, as were the tea cup, Vivienne Westwood book and Chanel book.

The flower books were carried from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s bookstore on different trips to the museum and the Versailles book was carried back from Versailles on our last trip to France.


Fashion Books and a Glazed Ceramic Birdhouse

The two flower vases were gifts from Girlfriend Valerie, the bird house and the blue bird were gifts from my dad and Jon’s mom, the colorful glass dish was a gift from my sister.

The art book on the top shelf was a souvenir from one of my jaunts to the Met.  The Young Life book is a treasured prize I won in a raffle at a Young Life fundraiser.  The Reader’s Digest Songbook is filled with classic songs and hymns.  It’s fun to pull out when our playful friends and family, who like to sing, come over.

Here is a sampling from the Songbook: The Wind Beneath My Wings, When You’re Smiling (the Whole World Smiles With You), Everything Is Beautiful, You’ve Got a Friend, Put Your Hand in the Hand, Just a Closer Walk With Thee, In the Sweet By and By, His Name is Wonderful, Take My Hand Precious Lord, Brighten the Corner Where You are


We bought this tattered painting on our first trip to Paris together.


Souvenir Books and Gifts


My sister Amy left this little dish on the counter when she and her husband vacationed in our Arizona house.  Jon doesn’t remember this pewter horse, but his parents brought it with his childhood belongings, it makes my heart happy.

Etegere display

A Resin Fish, Handmade Cribbage Board and a Chinese Bridal Box Decorated with Semi-Precious Stones and Cloisonné

In case you are wondering why my husband collects women’s shoes; his profession, expertise and passion are in the women’s shoe industry.😉

Here are a few close-ups from his collection of shoes:


Vintage 1970s Vivienne Westwood Gold Platform Pumps

If only the shoes above could talk!


High Heeled Adidas Made for Yohji Yamamoto


Hand Painted Italian Platform Pump

4 Tips for an Étagère Display:

  1. Display things that mean something to you, are beautiful and/or are useful

  2. Tell a story about who you are, what you like, what interests you

  3. Resist displaying every souvenir, trinket, and gift you have ever been given

  4. Allow breathing room and give the eye a place to rest

Here are 4 related articles that will help you get on your way to creating beauty around you:

10 Rules for Displaying Collections and Accessories

15 Minute Fix ~ Bedside

Get Rid of 100 Things Today!

Less is More

8 thoughts on “4 Tips for an Étagère Shelving Display

  1. Janea says:

    I love the idea of decorating with shoes!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love the idea of decorating with your beautiful limestone carvings!


  2. Nancy P says:

    Love your treasures! I read the post as I was waiting for a conference call to start, and I ended up being pretty ineffective as my mind wouldn’t quit singing “Put Your Hand in the Hand” through the whole thing! Thank you for reminding me of a song that I have loved all my life but had almost forgotten about. That song has always made me smile and feel good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That song is now in my head after you mentioned that your mind wouldn’t quit singing it.


  3. Diane says:

    Mel, you do a great job with both THE LESS and THE MORE…..perfect placement, alignment and symmetry of your treasures!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Di, thank you for your vote of approval. If only you knew how quickly everything went onto those shelves! “A little here and a little there” as we have unloaded boxes and needed a place for stragglers. They could benefit from a few tweaks and the edition of a healthy plant would be nice, too!


  4. simplysophisticatedspaces says:

    Your ‘undecorated’ surpasses most people’s ‘decorated’.


    1. One of the benefits of being a decorator, as you know, is understanding when something is not totally up to par and being able to improve it. The amazing thing is until I wrote this post, I didn’t care to. But now, at least with the étagére, I will probably be driven to work on it one afternoon this summer.


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