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
  • We earn a commission for products purchased through some links in this article.
  • 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

    Upcycled wine rack made from a wood palett

    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 

    Blue floating shelves

    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

    Pale wood shelves with minimalist display

    Image credits: 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

    Wire industrial style shelves Garden Trading

    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

    Shabby chic farmhouse style kitchen shelves

    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

    Country bedroom with shelf above bed

    Image credit: Future Publishing Plc/ David Brittain

    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

    Peg rail shelf with hanging festoon lights

    Image credits: 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.

    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

    Alcove book shelves painted navy blue

    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 ladder shelf in bright living room

    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

    Bespoke cut out wall shelves

    Image credits: 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

    Rustic living room with corner shelves

    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

    Colourful dining room box shelves

    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

    Monochrome family living room with picture ledge shelves

    Image credit: Future Publishing 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.

    All the latest from Ideal Home