Interior Design

Joanna Gaines' diagonal shelving tip – copy this styling secret for beautiful displays

The celebrated designer has the secret to a beautifully balanced scheme – and it begins with a functional focal point

Joanna Gaines headshot
(Image credit: Rob Kim / GettyImages Contributor)

While shelves are often considered more of a practicality than a staple of home design, celebrity interior designer Joanna Gaines has just made shelving feel instantly more exciting. 

The Fixer Upper star has curated spaces of every style in front of a global audience, but her diagonal shelving tip is one of her most versatile and straightforward to date – but despite its simplicity – it will completely transform your scheme.  

So, how can you use your shelving to rebalance your space? Joanna reveals her interior design tips – and her shelving secret.

Green living room with large shelf

(Image credit: Future / Paul Raeside)

'When I'm doing open shelving, a trick that I like to use is using a grid that goes in a diagonal form,' Joanna Gaines says.  Therefore, if you have a purple vase at the top right side of your shelf, Joanna suggests placing another purple-toned item diagonally below to exhibit a cohesive design. 'It's a simple trick that I use on all built-ins; it's a way to balance things out,' she adds. 

While Joanna has made her tip sound effortlessly uncomplicated, designer Tom Howley explains that the design process behind a perfectly decorated shelf involves a 'fusion of mathematics and creative intuition.' However, armed with Joanna and Tom's tips, the science behind stylish storage no longer needs to feel like a mystery. 

Shelf with books, plants and a vase

(Image credit: Future / Damian Russell)

For a truly curated space, Tom suggests looking beyond the shelf and at the scheme as a whole. 'I look at the room as a whole and create a balanced design with pleasing symmetry wherever possible and cabinetry of the right scale for the room,' Tom explains, whilst sharing his bespoke kitchen ideas

'Would you prefer everything to be hidden away, or do you like to have items on display?  Do you want seating on the island?  Do you like curved or linear shapes? Or, for example, if you love entertaining, you will know that guests flock to the kitchen at dinner parties to catch up with their hosts,' he says. 

Tom Howley designed kitchen with organised kitchen shelf

(Image credit: Hartford in Lovage and Marjoram, Tom Howley)

As both Joanna and Tom suggest, your shelves are far more than storage. Instead, they hold the mathematical key to a cohesive space. The top home ideas to steal from their expertise? Always consider the wider scheme – and above all – always go diagonal.

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.