Upgrade your video call backdrop 

The couple behind @the_adventureofus and @no.17house talk interiors and shelf-styling

As told to Jess Kelham-Hohler    Tuesday 31 March, 2020 .  Short read

A lounge-like interior.

'Create a sense of intrigue with sculptures, glasses and decorative objects that draw the eye and tell a story'

Video calls are proving to be a valuable tool for staying in touch with the people in our lives, providing the means for meetings with co-workers and virtual happy hours with social-distancing friends. However, with this connectability comes an unprecedented number of eyeballs getting an intimate look into your home. Styling your top half is simple – but what about your backdrop? This takes a little more finessing.

With a few simple switch-ups, you can turn your shelves from a dumping ground for books and knick-knacks into an elegant backdrop that proves your interiors prowess.

We’ve enlisted the help of Sarah-Louise Marks and Christopher Phelps, the couple behind lust-worthy travel account @the_adventureofus, who since June 2019 have also been documenting the renovations of their London house via @no.17house. Their minimalist approach, layering books and candles plus other decorative touches, including glassware and vases, turns their wall of shelving into a calming addition to their living space, as well as a camera-ready backdrop. 

image collage of shelves
image collage of decorated shelves

Here, the duo shares their tips for how to approach styling your own shelves.

1. Narrow in on your personal aesthetic and overall theme

‘Whether you’re a minimalist or a maximalist, pick a theme and stick with it. For us, less is more – we love neutral tones that give us a sense of calm.’

2. Layer your library

‘This will help you to get the scale and balance of your shelves right and give you a basic layout.’

3. Draw attention

‘Create a sense of intrigue with sculptures, glasses and decorative objects that draw the eye and tell a story. We love the combination of our Soho Home Barwell coupes and conch vase.’

4. Put your memories on display

‘We collect antiques and crystals from different places we’ve travelled to around the world. They instantly take you back to a place, a memory or a moment.’

5. Walk away, look and edit

‘Always take time to step back and edit; make sure your shelves are balanced. We change things around often – it refreshes the space instantly.’