20 Floating Shelves Ideas, So You Can Create Extra Storage Space That Isn’t an Eyesore
The naked expanse of wall in your living room is practically begging for some sort of decor. You could hang wallpaper, paint a mural, artfully display your hat collection, sure—but you also need more storage space. And you don’t want it to be cluttered or unsightly. It sounds like a tall order, but that’s where these floating shelves come into play: Each one provides a creative way to spruce up your space while making the most of every square inch you have. The best part? You don’t need to hire a pro to bring them to life. You can buy ‘em or DIY ‘em, it’s up to you. Here, 20 floating shelves ideas that are easy to recreate at home.
1. Build your own custom floating shelves
You know those high-end minimal kitchen pics you keep saving on Pinterest? One of the things that makes them look so luxe is having open shelves that run the length of the wall. Many store-bought ones can be too short for wide walls, looking stumpy and, well, cheap. But it turns out that with some wood, brackets and just a few tools (namely, a tape measure, miter saw and stud finder), you can easily create shelves that are custom-fit to your space.
3. Let it double as a full bar
Hanging a shelf about 42 inches from the floor and tucking a few narrow stools underneath is a space-saving way to create storage that doubles as a hangout. It’s perfect for small spaces where you can’t fit a kitchen island or a full table.
4. Integrate spotlight shelves into your gallery wall
If you already have a gallery wall of art in the works, try adding a spotlight shelf, like this Anthropologie find that’s crafted out of a stump. It’s just the right size to highlight a single item you love—be it a bud vase or that Jonathan Adler candle holder that looks like a work of art.
5. Or use shelves to form the base of your gallery wall
Gallery wall? Try gallery shelves. Take a page from designer Jasmine Roth and hang three rows of narrow ledges (Roth found hers at IKEA) along a hallway. Overlap your favorite framed photos, securing them with a little Museum Putty, and you’ve got art with way more character than any “Live, Laugh, Love” sign.
6. Make a statement with honeycomb shelves
Your shelves don’t have to be flat planks. A more sculptural shape—like these hexagon ones—can make even the simplest tchotchkes look expertly styled.
7. Frame your favorite things
If a honeycomb shape is a little too out there for you, try this modern take on floating shelves. The matte black rectangles perfectly frame whatever you place on them, making each one look like a work of art.
8. Install statement brackets
Upgrade your basic floating shelves with a pair of chic brackets that can even dress up a wooden slab.
9. Easily stow books and magazines
Display your favorite reads or your vinyl collection with a floating magazine rack.
11. Try a floating TV stand
Speaking of putting awkward corners to use, if you don’t have an obvious spot for your TV (or you don’t want to make it the focal point of the room), consider installing a floating TV stand in that area.
12. Or a floating nightstand
A floating nightstand isn’t as bulky as the traditional design, so it lends a light, airy look to any bedroom. (Plus, if you have a small pet, you can easily stick the dog’s bed underneath. As if Kiki actually sleeps there and not in your bed, that is.)
13. Pay homage to your first apartment
C’mon, your exposed brick wall is begging for a tiny floating shelf that’s a perfect replica of a fire escape.
14. Get colorful
If you’re already organizing your kids’ books by color, you might as well go all out with matching rainbow shelves, too. We’re not saying your kids will keep it that way for more than five minutes but hey, it’s worth a shot.
15. Find a silver lining to having to hang shelves
These cloud-shaped shelves are so cute that you’ll actually look forward to hanging them up. Plus, each one can hold up to 30 pounds of Troll dolls, Poo-emoji toys or whatever the elementary-school set is into these days.
16. Let your kids play house
This whimsical take on floating shelves invites your kids to get in on decorating—or they could just use it as a tiny dollhouse.
17. Play up unique architecture
The wall under a sloped roof can be a great place to add a few rows of floating shelves. This trio Roth used is the same length as the shelves of the built-in desk and the design draws the eye upward, making the nook seem larger than it is. Shelves spanning the full length of the wall might feel claustrophobic here.
18. Show off your plant babies
So, you like to garden, but you don’t have a yard? This delicate nine-piece set lets you grow all of your favorite herbs indoors.
19. Borrow this styling trick
No matter which type of floating shelves you choose, follow these tips from Roth to keep them looking stylish, not cluttered: Vary the heights of the items you place there, mix in different textures and group things in threes. “If you have four items you’re styling with, try grouping three of them together in one cluster and the other item slightly away from it or behind it if it’s larger in size,” she says. “This arrangement would work for three small ceramic pieces and one piece of artwork, or three candleholders and a cool clock.”
20. Order a pair with built-in lights
Rows of shelves can often look dark and cluttered. Hanging shelves with LED lights pre-installed keeps that area bright—and saves you the step of searching for (and figuring out how to install) accent lighting.