Shelving ideas - smart ways to enhance storage in your home

Functional and stylish, shelving is a great way to add impact and storage in one handy hit

Carefully thought-out shelving can really enhance your space. Organisation is paramount to success. When considering display shelves, be realistic about the sort of
homeowner you are; display shelves must be ordered, for instance, so aren’t right for fans of clutter. Tidiness is crucial, but beyond that
get creative. Also when choosing objects, the only thing that matters is colour and shape and how they allow you to create an interesting composition. They should
be carefully planned, but not look too contrived. Getting the right balance is key. Take a look at these original ideas for combining personality and practicality in every room....

1. Give an unloved object new purpose with an upcycle shelf project

dark blue wall with wooden shelf pallet with drink bottles and glass hanging

(Image credit: Future Publishing Plc)

Why not follow the trend for using recycled or salvaged pieces in the home, whether you choose to hang antique wooden fruit crates, or build with pallet wood from scratch, like this rustic wine storage complete with ridges to hang wine glasses too. 

2. Go modern

white and blue wall with wall shelf frame on shelf and photos on wall

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Lizzie Orme)

At the other end of the scale, simple floating shelves create a contemporary, fluid look that suits all homes alike. We love this example where texture and style have been brought to monotone shelves with a collection of rustic and colourful kitchenware. Try making artful displays out of your possessions for a more interesting look.

3. Use budget materials

wood shelves on white wall with pots and frames

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Colin Poole)

There is no need to spend a fortune on bespoke built shelving. Simple yet clever, these pared back shelves are made from basic, untreated timber that is readily available from most hardware stores  and works beautifully in an otherwise unused space. Keep display items coherent with a colour theme and use sparingly to get a minimalist effect.

4. Wire basket shelves are industrial

grey wall with storage basket clock wooden desk with black chair

(Image credit: Garden Trading)

Create a factory-style aesthetic with simple wire wall units, like these ones from Garden Trading. Baskets provide storage for stationary while the open display provides easy access and the chance to showcase stylish magazines and attractive postal items. The look is all the more striking against a plain wall - keep the rest of the scheme simple to really pack a punch.

5. Add shabby chic shelves for a farmhouse look

kitchen wooden shelve with cups and plates marble counter with coffee machine weighing machine

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ David Giles)

Add cute shabby chic shelves to display your favourite china collection and other treasures in the kitchen. Look in antique and junk shops or search on eBay for vintage shelving – and paint the interior different colours or leave bare for vintage charm.

6. Secure a shelf above the bed

white wall bedroom with shelf above bed grey bed with designed cushion

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ David Brittain)

Installing a shelf securely above the bed is a popular look for bedrooms right now as not only is it a practical place to add extra storage that perhaps would otherwise be wasted, but it also adds incredible interest and balance. Go for a narrow shelf such as a dado rail, picture ledge or peg rail and use it to display art, store your nighttime reading,  frame your bed with atmospheric fairy lights - or go for all three!

7. Organise the home office

room with white wall and floating book shelf wooden desk and yellow chair

(Image credit: IKEA)

Sort out your paperwork once and for all in your home office with shelves that run the length of a wall, making the most of every inch. Combine colourful stationery with graphic artwork for a bright, orderly and inspiring feel.

8. Choose a peg rail for practical simplicity

white wall with wooden shelf plant in white pot swinging chair with cushion

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC)

A peg rail makes an endearing shelf solution as not only does it offer a flat surface above the pegs underneath are ideal for hanging more awkward items or objects that  can become decorative items in their own right. We love how these festoon lights have been loosely strung up that will create an ambient glow to light up the display above when night falls.

9. Replace closed cupboards with open shelves in the kitchen

white kitchen with wood open upper shelves

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC)

This plain white kitchen is given bags of character with these open shelves that have been highlighted with a contrasting block colour in-between. The dark shade contrasts well with the scheme and works beautifully as a kitchen storage solution. Open shelves in the kitchen is a popular choice as they increase the sense of space and make food and utensil very easy to access.

10. Stick with tradition in the living room with alcove shelves

living room with blue wall and book shelf mirror on wall and sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Chris Snook)

Use the alcoves either side of your fireplace as a fabulous place for display with sleek floating shelves alcove shelves. They'll work in traditional living rooms, like this one, when painted to blend in with the walls, and also in a modern scheme. Display books stacked horizontally as well as vertically and store them in colour order for the ultimate on-trend rainbow exhibit.

11. Ladder shelving is laid back

white wall living room with ladder shelving and white window

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Fiona Walker)

For a relaxed living room look out for ladder-style shelving on which to arrange photographs and accessories. Match the wood to the back drop for seamless look that makes the accessories stand out.

12. Cut out shelves are space saver savvy

home office room with white wall cut out shelves desk computer and chair

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Philip Raymond)

Perfect for living rooms  and home offices or as a practical display in a small bathroom, bespoke shelving cut-out shelves look structurally striking. They make ideal spaces for showing off eclectic and colourful possessions and collections.

13. Make use of dark corners

living room white wall wooden shelf and wooden tv console

(Image credit: Future Publishing PLC/ Colin Poole)

Make use of even the slimmest and darkest of spaces in your living room with shelves mounted at different levels on adjacent walls together. They add interest to a dull corner and make the most of used space

14. Have fun with box shelves

dining room with white wall and box shaped wall mounted shelves white dinning table and green chairs

(Image credit: Future Publishing Plc / David Giles)

Various sized boxes arranged together along a wall makes for quirky storage and injects funky character. Paint the boxes bright colours and mount onto a white wall to really show off your creations.

15. Picture ledges are neat and discreet

white living room with white sofa and beige black striped rug and frames on white wall shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Tim Young)

In recent times picture ledges have become a storage shelf staple for so many reasons. The super-slim surface is not only a genius and interesting option for stacking artwork. They are super practical for narrow hallways, organising children's books and  slotting behind the sofa to create a family, focal point display.


Holly Walsh
Content Editor

Holly Walsh has been Content Editor at Ideal Home since 2021, but joined the brand back in 2015. With a background of studies in Interior Design, her career in interior journalism was a no-brainer and her passion for decorating homes is still as strong as it ever was. While Holly has written for most of the home titles at Future, including Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, Homes and Gardens and Style at Home, Ideal Home has always been her ideal home, and she can be found sharing her expertise and advice across both the printed magazine and the website too.