How to Incorporate Floating Shelves Into Your Room’s Design

Floating shelves — those that attach to the wall without visible brackets — are sleek, chic and so versatile. From filling a tricky nook to customizing a workspace, floating shelves are an underrated workhorse all around the house. Here are six ways to use floating shelves, plus key tips for when it comes time to hang them.

Shirley Meisels, original photo on Houzz


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Cross a window. Desperately need more kitchen storage but lack extra wall space? Floating shelving may be just what you need — they’ll give you added storage without your having to give up any windows, as you might have to with cabinets. Installing floating shelves across a bank of windows is not too difficult, as long as your windows are narrow enough that you can place supports between the windows. A wide bank of windows without any gaps of wall between panes is trickier — have a pro advise on the best way to provide additional support.

Once your shelving is up, maximize the sunlight by choosing light, airy pieces (clear glassware is ideal) to store on your shelves.


Pitsou Kedem Architect, original photo on Houzz


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Fill a nook. Fill in unusually shaped nooks with cut-to-fit floating shelves for a customized look. This is a smart way to handle recessed arches and other nooks that are too awkwardly shaped for most furniture.


Lucy Call, original photo on Houzz


Offset the arrangement. Alternate the alignment of shelves hung on the left and right side of the wall for a fresh, asymmetrical look. The double-height gaps in an offset shelving arrangement are handy for displaying taller items.

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Tim Clarke Design, original photo on Houzz


Round a corner. Continue those floating shelves right around a corner for a sleek, modern look. This treatment does require extra room — you wouldn’t want to bump into that sharp corner! Also be aware that any floating shelves that are especially heavy or uniquely shaped are best handled by pros.


Laura Kirar Design, original photo on Houzz


Go long and lean. Use long floating shelves to rotate art and objects with ease. In the space here, the three floating shelves echo the line of the extra-long desk underneath, creating a clean, streamlined look.


Avonlea Homes, original photo on Houzz


Customize with cork. Make a custom-look workspace by fitting corkboard into the space between the lowest floating shelf and your work surface. In the space here, a trio of petite pendant lights illuminates the workspace; undershelf lighting would also work well in a setup like this.

Related: Stock Up on Desk Accessories for a Productive Workspace

Installation tips. You need to have the experience of floating shelving crashing down only once to know it’s vital to get the installation right. Here’s how:

• Use a stud finder to locate a wall stud in the area where you want to hang your shelves. Try to get at least one fastener into a stud.

• Use a pencil to mark the position where each fastener will go. Then use a level to check that your marks are straight.

• Unless you are fastening into a wall stud, it’s wise to use anchors. Anchors are rated by the weight they are capable of holding — be generous and choose anchors that can hold more weight than you plan to put on the shelves.

• There are many different types of anchors available, and the factors to consider are too many to list here. To be sure you’re choosing the right ones, discuss your project with someone at your local hardware store — describe what type of walls you have (plaster, drywall, brick etc.) and what you want to hang on them.


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