Shelves Ideas – Plank shelves are so simple yet very efficient spacewise, especially in a tight office that may double as a guest room. The minimal hardware supporting these gives them the look of floating shelves.
This wall unit has a midcentury modern feel, especially when paired with the furniture shown. There is plenty of storage and desk space, but the unit feels light and untethered because the shelves are not overburdened, and much white wall shows through.
I love this idea for a partially built in, partially floating minilibrary shelving unit in the dining room. It’s wondrous to see that many books where I would expect to see fine china. Staggered shelf heights is a fun approach to making the library less serious and more approachable. A trend in shelving is using construction-grade plywood, double layered, with a natural finish.
- 1 Creative Shelving Designs
- 1.1 Coming home to roost
- 1.2 Forgo those bulky cabinets
- 1.3 Crowning achievement shelving design
- 1.4 Rugged and repurposed
- 1.5 Illuminated thinking shelves ideas
- 1.6 The giving tree shelves idea
- 1.7 A definite original
- 1.8 Industrial ingenuity
- 1.9 Boxy and beautiful shelves idea
- 1.10 A simpler approach
- 1.11 Headboard highlight
- 1.12 Step it up shelves idea
- 1.13 Stylishly slanted
- 1.14 Fabulous feature wall
- 1.15 Reclaimed radiance
- 1.16 Zigzag appeal shelves idea
- 2 Clever Ideas for Living Room Shelving
- 2.1 Turn log storage into a feature
- 2.2 Pop a shelf in your seating
- 2.3 Maximize space with a ladder shelf
- 2.4 Go modular
- 2.5 Style up your staircase
- 2.6 Go up and over the door
- 2.7 Look to the floor
- 2.8 Combine hidden storage with open shelves
- 2.9 Make the most of recessed shelving
- 2.10 Frame a window
- 2.11 Reverse the idea of chimney alcoves
- 2.12 Keep everything behind closed doors
- 3 Creative Ways to Shelve Your Library
Creative Shelving Designs
When we think of wall treatments, we often focus on wallpaper, paint or architectural moldings rather than on shelves or bookcases, even if they’re built-in. Shelves are viewed as having more in common with extraneous wall hangings, such as art and mirrors, than with feature walls. And yet, there’s that rare shelving unit that houses our books and knickknacks in such a unique way that it manages to completely transform the room it’s in. Here are 16 examples of shelves whose scale or material makes them utterly cool alternatives to the standard boxy bookcase plunked against a wall.
Coming home to roost
Unless you’re an urban homesteader or a poultry farmer, you may not realize that what we’re looking at here is an old chicken nesting box where hens once laid their eggs. Instead of clucking birds, it now houses country jars and pitchers.
Forgo those bulky cabinets
The kitchen is fertile ground for unique shelving since there’s simply so much that needs to be stored there. We’re seeing more and more people eschew upper cabinets in favor of long shelving, and while it may prove to be a trend that fades like any other, it still feels fresh and unexpected to see shelves running across kitchen windows.
Crowning achievement shelving design
You could go even further and recruit an entire corner piece of elaborate crown molding for use as a decorative upper shelf in a powder room, as this homeowner did for her Victorian-inspired bath. The moulding sets the tone for the entire space, in fact.
Designer tip: This is a great way to embark on any decorating project. Find something you love and let everything else you buy for the space play off of that first item, be it fabric, tile, an heirloom or millwork.
Rugged and repurposed
Here we see that it’s also possible to take an out-of-service architectural detail, like a pair of corbels, and turn it into a shelf.
Illuminated thinking shelves ideas
Here’s a new twist on the built-in shelf: It’s “built in” to the light fixture, for a terrific example of a necessary design feature — a ceiling-mounted light — doing double duty. Of course, if you’re considering using this idea in your own home, it’ll pay to either be tall or have a relatively low-hanging light.
The giving tree shelves idea
This bookcase by GiveWink in Miami was designed for the nursery. Hand-sanded to create smooth edges, it can store up to 100 books.
A definite original
I couldn’t say exactly what we’re looking at here, but I’d hazard a guess that the homeowner is an engineer or technical type who could tell us what else this machine is good for besides being a pretty snazzy shelf.
While we’re on the theme of repurposing utility items as home decor, let’s all ooh and ahh over this old factory-mold-turned-shelf. I’d argue that industrial pieces like this aren’t as easy to come by as domestic relics of bygone years, but if you get your hands on something totally unique, flex your creative muscles and find it a home within your home.
There’s something comforting about being around items that have borne witness to human progress; many people find it puts them in touch with a world beyond their own.
Boxy and beautiful shelves idea
It’s hard to believe that any businesses still use wooden crates in 2016, but happily for us wineries do, as do some pick-your-own-produce farms. Get your rustic fix by collecting these humble heirlooms to use as storage for your treasures. Bonus: Their modularity makes them easy to fit into those awkward nooks beneath stairs or roof gables.
A simpler approach
Sometimes a simple ladder propped against the wall will get the job done. For those with a no-fuss, “undecorated” style, this look is for you. If the ladder happens to be a little beat up, so much the better.
Speaking of bedtime reading, this custom tree-inspired bookshelf in Colorado is more than just clever storage. It creates a dramatic statement that entirely changes the scope and feel of the room.
Step it up shelves idea
A steep set of stairs often involves a narrow wall — often decorated with one small piece of art. But why not rethink that wall and turn it into a bookshelf? The creative solution adds an unexpected design element and makes it easy to grab some bedtime reading on your way upstairs at night.
The crisscrossed shelves here are out of the ordinary to be sure, but with a little imagination you can see how their diamond pattern mimics treillage, the art of covering walls with latticework, popularized by famed decorator Elsie de Wolfe.
Fabulous feature wall
These next two funky wall treatments scarcely resemble regular bookshelves at all. The little crosses in this array are positioned close enough so that tall books can lean out onto an adjacent shelf, which acts like a built-in bookend.
The overall effect is akin to 3-D wallpaper, complete with checkerboard shadows across the empty shelves and diagonally striped shadows across the occupied sections.
Toronto-based Rad Designcreated these reclaimed-wood and steel-pipe shelves to perfectly fit the wall space. Pipe arms extend to display a few cameras from the collection of one of the homeowners.
Zigzag appeal shelves idea
It’s not unusual to see a series of floating shelves in an office, or a single long shelf in today’s kitchens that have forgone upper cabinets. Far less common is a single floating shelf with dips and peaks like this one.
Though it serves the same function as the straight shelves we’re accustomed to, its dynamic lines gives it a decidedly edgier profile and allow it to take up more space on the wall. Plus, its command of the recess earns it the bona fide title of feature wall.
Clever Ideas for Living Room Shelving
Looking for some inspiration for your living room shelves? These ideas will help you design the perfect storage to fit into your space, whatever its shape or size.
Turn log storage into a feature
If you’re lucky enough to have a wood stove in your living room, you’ll need storage for your logs. Firewood looks lovely when it’s stacked, so it makes sense to turn it into a feature. This industrial-style steel shelf has been hung on the wall, transforming the logs into a work of art.
Pop a shelf in your seating
Make the most of the space below a seat by adding a shelf. This cozy room features a custom-built bench, with a comfortable cushion along the top and a handy shelf below.
Maximize space with a ladder shelf
If you want to add some attractive free-standing storage, you can’t beat a ladder shelf. The design is simple and elegant, and the angled shape makes it unobtrusive. A pair of ladder shelves have been tucked into a corner of this living room, providing a useful storage feature that doesn’t block the light from the window.
For shelving that’s flexible, opt for a modular system. This wall is covered by a flexible design that allows shelves to be added or adjusted whenever the need arises. The modern design looks sleek and stylish and adds an industrial edge to the period property.
Style up your staircase
If your stairs are in the living room, it makes sense to turn them into a feature. Here, the banister has been replaced by a floor-to-ceiling shelving unit that provides ample storage and looks fantastic.
Go up and over the door
Think you’ve run out of wall space? You could always use the area above the door. The shelves here go all the way up to the ceiling and over the door frame. Not only does it provide a vast amount of storage, it also makes a feature of the door. Don’t forget, though, that you’ll need a library ladder to access the top shelves.
Look to the floor
Maximize any unused space at ground level by tucking in some storage that can be pulled out. Here, a wide wooden container looks beautiful in the recess and provides plenty of storage space. Make the container easy to move by adding some wheels to the bottom.
Built-in cabinets and drawers are a practical way to provide lots of storage. However, an entire wall of cabinetry can look overpowering. Break it up a little by including some open shelves in the center. These shelves provide an interesting twist to the expanse of units and turn the storage solution into a unique design statement.
Make the most of recessed shelving
Shelving that’s been cut into the wall is a lovely, neat solution that doesn’t intrude on a room. You can allow the recessed shelves to blend into the wall, or you can make a feature of them.
These shelves have been designed to form an unusual shape and painted in a contrasting color to the purple wall so they stand out. The result is both practical and striking.
Frame a window
Another way to bring in the look of alcove shelving is to use a window as your central element instead of a fireplace. Here, the wall spaces either side of the sash window have been turned into attractive storage features.
Reverse the idea of chimney alcoves
This clever design has turned the idea of alcove shelving on its head. A wood stove sits on a sleek, gray platform and is flanked by two shelving units either side. The fire sits in the alcove, while the shelves are protruding. It’s a great way to add character to an otherwise flat wall.
Keep everything behind closed doors
If you want to hide all your items away, consider adding some doors to your shelving. This nifty storage unit has room for all sorts of stuff, including media items. Everything is arranged neatly, so it looks good while open, but for a more streamlined look, the doors can be closed.
This simple, smart design leaves space for the television and media equipment to remain on show.
Creative Ways to Shelve Your Library
Shelves on wheels, layered libraries and secret doors, oh my! If you’re a book lover looking for unique and flexible ways to store your precious tomes, you’ve come to the right place. Eight creative shelving ideas are straight ahead.
Once, in a used bookstore, I happened to be browsing when the owner went to retrieve something from “the back.” But instead of disappearing into a back room, she grasped the nearest bookcase and slid it aside to reveal … more books! Ever since that moment I have wanted my very own secret stash of books-behind-books, very much like the one shown here. Tracks along the floor and ceiling allow the bookcases to slide easily back and forth without tipping.
Mini mobile shelf
This small-space wonder can be shifted from place to place with ease, so it’s never underfoot. A low bookshelf like the one shown here is also a smart find for placing beneath low windows, where a taller bookcase would block the light.
Bedtime reading buddy
With room for books below and a comfy cushion on top, this little bench makes an ideal bedside companion. Especially handy for parents to perch on while reading aloud at bedtime — without needing to crouch beneath an upper bunk.
Put an old wagon to work by filling it with a rotating selection of favorite books (picture books or otherwise) and carting it wherever it’s needed. Kids especially will love being able to bring their haul from room to room, but grown-up book lovers are sure to get a kick out of it too.
Double-duty cookbook station
This clever little bookcase was custom made to tuck beneath the end of a kitchen island. Just roll it away to make room for a guest to pull up a stool while you cook, or wheel it into the dining room to serve as a buffet at a big party or holiday dinner.
Make it easy to change your furniture arrangement on a whim by choosing furniture (like the console bookshelf shown here) on casters. Keep it close to the couch for setting books and drinks, or push it against the wall to make more space.
Now you see them, now you don’t! Made only from recycled and salvaged materials, these pivoting bookshelves can rotate to face either the living room or a bedroom with a quick spin. Or leave them open to increase light and flow.
If you need a door and more room for books, why choose when you can have both? The built-in bookcases flanking the fireplace in this finished basement look so seamless, you would never guess that one of the bookcases is actually a secret door! It’s a great way to hide valuables.