Emma Raducanu turned this ordinary living room storage feature into a unique celebration of her life, designers say

Storage has never felt as sentimental as it does in the tennis pro's home – and experts say we can learn from her personal design decisions

(Image credit: Theo Wargo via Getty Images)

If we're to expect anybody to have a collection of trophies, it's Emma Raducanu. The tennis professional (famed as the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977) made her name in the sporting world at the age of 21 – and with her sucsess comes the inevitable trophies she's picked up along the way.

Instead of storing her sucsess behind closed doors, Raducanu tapped into one of the most used (but controversial) living room storage ideas we can choose – open-shelving – thus turning her space into a celebration of her life and achievements. Alongside the aforementioned trophies, Raducanu has styled her shelves with photo frames, books, trinket boxes, and a scented reed diffuser that is sure to fill her room with scent, alongside the burning incense that's also spotted on her bottom shelf.

The benefit of storage, like Raducanu's, is simultaneously its biggest downfall: these shelves leave everything open and exposed – meaning open shelving mistakes are common. However, with some curation and the confidence to incorporate some personal items (whether it's trophies, photos, or souvenirs from our travels), we can replicate Raducanu's storage in a way that's unique to us. The secret to success, however, is found in curation, as storage expert (and CMO at String Furniture) Bo Hellberg explains.

'Styling open shelving comes down to your own personal style. Some people prefer a mix, whereas some people choose a more uniform style where everything matches perfectly. Experiment with your style, and don’t overwhelm the shelves,' Hellberg instructs.

As mentioned, Hellberg recommends prioritizing the items that pay homage to our lives, just as Raducanu demonstrates. 'We believe that our shelves should be a reflection of our personalities and exhibit the objects that we have collected throughout our lives,' he says.

When it comes to styling my own shelves, I have found that selecting just a few beautiful pieces to display can make the most decorative impact and be the most sentimental. Many forget that storage can be part of the interior design scheme, and by displaying and styling our objects, we can merge function with decoration.'

Alternatively, we can bring a well-curated aesthetic to our living room by color-coordinating the items we showcase. 'Coordinating different colors on your shelves is another simple and effortless way of making these pieces stand out and decoratively tie a room together.'

Colorful home San Jose

(Image credit: Vivian Johnson)

Though popular (and inevitably celebrity-approved), open shelves come with a controversial reputation. We would be forgiven for thinking that having everything on the show can sometimes feel impractical, especially in a space as social as the living room. However, Hellberg says the result is worth the risk.

'One downside that people mention when it comes to open shelving is often about clutter; however, if you make an effort to keep some amount of order, you can curate your living room items to look stylish and ordered,' he explains.

'The biggest positive about open shelving is having everything where you can see it, which means it’s easy to find what you are looking for, and you don’t spend time searching through overflowing drawers.'

For styling inspiration, we could do worse than follow Raducanu's lead. We love how she's paired both decorative and practical elements alongside her trophies, and we can do the same with these picks below. We particularly love the Rituals diffuser that, despite being slightly different from Raducanu's, promises to fill our room with a distinctive, and yet not too heady, Cotton Blossom scent. It's tried (and loved) by our in-house tester, so we can invest in confidence.

One last thing to remember is that this look is similarly replicable in small living rooms. However, it involves a technique that differs slightly from Raducanu's.

'If you are limited on space, combine open shelving with cabinetry throughout your living room. This way, you can style your open shelves to add character to your living room,' Hellberg comments. 'Ensuring your living room is organized and clutter-free will help not to make the space feel too overwhelming, which is important if you don’t have ample space.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.