Bedroom shelf ideas - stylish ways to use shelving for storage and decoration

Bring order to your bedroom with a variety of shelf ideas

Pink and white bedroom with shelf ledge
(Image credit: Future PLC)

Bedroom shelf ideas can help to bring order to a cluttered bedroom. It's easy to underestimate the amount of storage required, particularly when two people share a room. 

Most of us don't have the luxury of a separate dressing room, and homes generally no longer have the extra space for towels and bed linen that an old-fashioned airing cupboard once provided.

Coupled with the amount of 'stuff' most of us accumulate, this means wardrobe and drawer space has to work harder. So bedroom shelves offer an additional place to store and display items as part of bedroom ideas.

Bedroom shelf ideas

1. Paint the wall behind a different shade

Blue and neutral bedroom with a shelf

(Image credit: Future / Chris Snook)

Create a stylish display area by painting the wall above the shelf in a different colour to the section below.

Painting the section below the shelf in a colour and the one above in neutral shade will make more of a feature of photos, plants and books displayed there. Consider matching the colour of the shelf to one of the sections to add definition to the split in colour.

However, don't feel that you're restricted to paint, consider combining this idea with bedroom wallpaper ideas for a striking finish.

2. Create cubby holes where you can

bedroom shelves

(Image credit: Future)

In a period home with awkward nooks, crannies or alcoves, install shelves within them to utilise any spare space where you can. Measure the height of the alcove and place the shelves at equal distances apart for a neat look.

Painting the walls and shelves in a bright white will let the items stored and displayed stand out like a versatile bedroom accent wall idea. But that does mean you will need to choose what you want to place there carefully.

3. Offset art against a dark wall

Navy bedroom wall with white drawers

(Image credit: Future / Katie Lee)

Bedroom wall art ideas such as artworks, prints and photos look as good propped up on a flat surface as they do hung on a wall. So add a couple of shelves in a bedroom for leaning favourite pieces of art, ornaments and ephemera.  

Offsetting the shelves against a dark wall will create a contrast and allow pieces to take centre stage. Placing picture frames and items on a shelf also makes it easier to switch them around when you fancy a refresh.

4. Extend along the wall width

Grey bedroom with wooden headboard

(Image credit: Future)

Make the most of vertical space by hanging shelves that fit the entire width of a wall. If you can't find shelves long enough, install floating shelves side by side to give the illusion of a single shelf. Alternatively, have shelves made to fit. 

Decide what you want to store or display on them first and ensure the shelves can take the weight if you intend to place books or heavy items above the bed.  

5. Utilise a deep headboard

Grey bedroom with headboard as a shelf

(Image credit: Future)

A deep headboard with a flat surface can provide an alternative shelf space in a bedroom. It can make a great place for propping an art print or laying out twinkly fairy lights for extra illumination. 

Be mindful if you're considering placing breakables on a headboard shelf as it won't allow for much movement when you're actually in the bed. 

6. Hide behind closed doors

bedroom shelf ideas

(Image credit: Future)

Fitted furniture ideas are the best way to maximise every centimetre of space from floor to ceiling. In a shallow spot beside a bed, consider creating a dressing table or beauty bay behind closed doors. 

Being able to hide shelves away when you're not using the items on them, creates a far calmer and cleaner-looking bedroom.

'A ‘beauty bay’ is especially popular with people who like a clutter-free bedroom,' says Megan Baker at My Fitted Bedroom. 'Replacing a dressing table (which is often messy and filled with bottles, brushes and make-up on display), with a built-in beauty bay is ideal for keeping toiletries hidden away. It’s a discreet dressing table and so much more.'

7. Squeeze above a window

Green bedroom with shelf above window

(Image credit: Future / Dominic Blackmore)

Placing a shelf above a window may not be something you have considered. Yet if there is enough depth between the ceiling and the top of the window frame it could be a genius bedroom storage idea.

Baskets with handles that will fit neatly are an ideal way to hide unsightly clutter away and a high shelf makes a great spot to add a hook for a hanging planter too. Making this a win-win solution. Just make sure you allow enough room to open and close the blind.

'Plan what items you actually need to put on shelves and how these will be kept tidy,' says Megan Baker at My Fitted Bedroom. 'If you are planning on using storage boxes or baskets on your shelves, make sure that there is adequate space for them to fit.'

8. Fit a dado shelf

bedroom shelf ideas

(Image credit: Future / David Brittain)

Dado rails were traditionally used for hanging pictures and mirrors, however a more modern look is for a dado shelf above a bedroom wall panelling idea

As well as providing a smart finish and separation between the timber panelling and painted wall, the slim ledge makes a great spot for placing small decorative items.

9. Maximise a corner

bedroom shelves

(Image credit: Future)

Hanging a blackout blind at the bedroom window, instead of curtains or shutters, frees up valuable space beside a window. 

Without bulky drapes or a curtain pole in the way, this gives you enough room to fix a couple of shelves in a corner next to the window. Situate them above a set of drawers or a bureau below, where you can store any necessary paperwork or hobby equipment.

10. Turn a radiator into a storage opportunity

Pink bedroom with radiator cover and wooden chair

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

When tackling small bedroom ideas, an unsightly radiator can be a real hindrance. However, a radiator cover can work double duty disguising a less desirable radiator and creating a shelf to display books or knick-knacks. 

This idea is usually reserved for creating a table to suit narrow hallway ideas. However, it can also work a treat in a bedroom and is ideal for renters who are unable to install a shelf without the landlord's permission. 

However, do bear in mind that covering a radiator will make it slightly less efficient at heating a room. But if you're finding yourself not needing the heat on high in your bedroom this is the perfect solution. 

What to put on shelves in bedrooms?

Whatever you place on bedroom shelves make sure they can take the weight. Books can be heavy, so mix and style them with ornaments, photos, art prints, candle holders, vases and plants.   

Founder of art store Green Lili, Michelle Collins says 'When styling any home, it should ideally reflect your personality. Decorate shelves with your favourite artwork and books and take time to source things that spark joy and are special to you.' 


Jacky Parker is a freelance interiors & lifestyle journalist, specialising in modern interiors, design and eco living. She has written for Future’s interior magazines and websites including Livingetc, Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home for over fifteen years, both as a freelance contributor and inhouse, with stints as Acting Digital Editor, Livingetc and Acting Style Content Editor, Country Homes & Interiors. Her work also features in national and international publications including Sunday Times Style, Telegraph Stella, The Guardian, Grand Designs, House Beautiful and more. With years of experience in the industry Jacky is privy to the insider view and the go-to places for interior inspiration and design-savvy décor.