June 23, 2018

Secrets Of Decorating With Shells

Some folks decorate with shells mainly in Summer and some folks
like to have shells in their home all year. Here are three secrets to
making the shells you have make the most impact.

#1 Secret: Use Fillers To Fool The Eye
When you are using shells in a container use materials other than
your beautiful shells to fill most of the container. Then use shells
to only top off the container. To anyone looking at your container of shells it will seem like the whole container is full of shells.

What filler you use depends on your container. If you container is opaque, you can use newspaper or plastic bags as filler.

  Stuff the container really full...maybe even more than you
 think necessary because the weight of the shells will make the
 filler sink in the container somewhat.
In the photo above I had to go back and add more filler because it 
was not getting the more mounded look that I wanted.

Make a layer of the flatter (usually the cheapest too) shells
to cover the filler.

Place some of your more interesting shells on top of
the flatter shells. This gives the illusion that the container
if full of interesting shells...but that is your secret. 

Here is another example...

You can even use this secret on larger containers...
I had to use burlap to hide the newspaper filler so it was not visible
through the holes in olive bucket. 

You can hide newspaper from the top by using light colored plastic bags 
as the layer underneath your flat cheap shells. 

Add a few interesting shells on top of flat shells.

You can also use this technique for containers that are not
holding only shells. Stuff container with filler, add flat 
shells to hide filler, put main objects on top. 

You can be creative with what filler you choose.
For a flat door basket I used foam core as the filler.

Then hot glue was used to attach shells to the top edge 
of the foam core.

If your container is see-through try to use clear fillers.
Clear plastic cups were used for this container.

Less interesting, cheaper shells were hot glued onto the cups.

The nicer shells got to be the stars of the container but not
many of them had to be used in actuality...saves money. 

Another filler that looks natural under shells is sand. It visually
heightens the shells and gives the illusion of volume.

#2 Secret: Shell-i-fy Your Accessories
To shell-i-fy means "to add shells to"...I made that up but it 
encapsulates the idea of making normal decorating items
become part of your shell theme. Whether you want the
shell-i-fication to be permanent or not is up to you. 

If you only want the shells on your accessories for a short
time, say for the Summer, add shells with a small amount
of hot glue. Usually, if the item is hard, not painted and 
non-porous, the shell will pop off easily and the dot 
of glue comes off the item also. 

Here are a couple of examples of short-term hot glue
shell-i-fication in my dining room this Summer...


Along with the candlesticks in a grouping are boxes that
demonstrate levels of shell-i-fication permanence.

The smallest box in the front is permanently shell-i-fied. 
Even though I am on a self-imposed shell buying restriction,
I had to have this $18 box when I saw it. I don't know what
kind of glue the artist used but I hope that box is shell-i-fied
for life. 

The middle box was also purchased ($9) with shells glued on
(tight I hope) but it is kind of plain. I simply placed a 
larger shell on top of it (with NO glue) to give it dimension.

The box in the back was purchased with a few shells on it
but it needed some more height so I added the faux coral
(again just by stacking with no glue) and a few more shells
to hide the gap between permanent shells and temporary coral.

Bottles can be shell-i-fied easily too.
Here is a display as an example...

I just used a dot of hot glue to add shells to these bottles so
they can go back to being just bottles in the Fall. 

If you want shells to stay on an accessory forever just use
a stronger glue. Here are a couple of examples...

This is an easy project. Select a frame, cut cardboard to fit inside frame, cover cardboard with
a fabric, secure fabric-covered cardboard in frame, glue shells on fabric. 

I would advise NOT to glue shells on fabric unless you
want it to be permanent. 

You can hot glue shells on to candles but it might leave a mark
if you want to take them off later.

#3 Secret: Stand Up Some Shells
Most of the time when we see shells they are lying flat.
When we find them on the beach that's how they are naturally.
In decorating with shells try to find a way to place a few shells
vertically to highlight their beauty and allow their shape to
be admired individually. 

Pictures previously in this post of the framed shells and
 shells that were glued on to blue bottles are examples
of standing up shells.
Here are a few more examples...

Well, that is the three main secrets I have discovered in being
a person that loves to decorate with shells for Summer.
Not only do I think the shells are gorgeous to look at but 
to me they are such a great bargain. 

This is not a secret but you can have plenty of 
shells inexpensively if you buy the bags. Most of my
shells have come from the bulk bags at Hobby Lobby
 that are $10 or less. If you use a 40% off coupon you save 
even more. I have found larger shells marked down at
Michael's at the end of Summer. Even the Dollar Tree has
little baskets of shells in the floral section. 

Of course, generally the larger the shell, the more expensive
so keep your eyes open for bargains on a few nicer shells too.
If you live near or visit a beach and collect can shells, cost 
is not object to you...they are free!

Now that you know shell secrets, you can make the shells
you have look like more than they really are. 

Most of these photos have come from my decorating for
this Summer. If you would like to see the bigger picture of
how I use shells at my home, I hope you will visit my 
blog for a home tour. Here is the link:

If you would like to save these shell secrets here for future
reference, here is a good Pinterest image...



  1. Amazing tutorial dear friend ! I love all the arrangements. I love shells ALL year round, actually I keep them around, but now they are in centerstage. I arranged the centerpiece for Dad's Day setting this year. Now I have some on my living room vignette.

  2. Thanks for the details and hints! I'm looking forward to putting your ideas into practice in my living room!

  3. Great tips on displaying shells, Gayle! I think you've spill the beans on decorators' secrets in displaying most things! I love your secrets on using fillers, especially the way you displayed the flat door basket! And adding a shell to the finger tips of the hand looks amazing! And I love all of your shell secrets!

  4. Oh Kitty, such fabulous projects using shells. I love shells and still have some stored away. When we are at the beach we walk and look for shells to bring home. I see several of your project I may "copy."
    Happy summer.......

  5. You are a shell decorating genius! I also use "filler" aka newspaper inside many of my home decor displays:) I also get small baskets of shells at The Dollar Store. I especially love the tip about using the foam core board inside the basket -- it looks great! Would love for you to visit our Vintage Charm Party this Wednesday morning! Hope to see you there! xo Kathleen

  6. Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen

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