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Functional and stylish, shelving is a versatile part of home design

July 11, 2013

Hardwood FloorsShelving is one of the most versatile features that can be added to a room design. They can be made in virtually any type of material, but among homeowners' favorites are wood shelves, which can be matched with floors like Anderson's Northern Maple Plank collection.

Having shelves in a room also doesn't have to be a permanent addition to the decor. It depends on whether home decorators are going for a built-in look or an open design that gives them more flexibility if the furniture is re-arranged.

Many choices
According to, corner shelves are a good choice for small rooms or apartments. They provide additional storage without taking up too much space in spots that may otherwise be hard to reach. Corner units are also flexible because they can be customized to fit a certain area, stand-alone units or hung directly on the walls.

Those who prefer freestanding bookcases in traditional rectangular form can keep them in their natural wood state to go with furniture and wood floors or they can be painted for a more informal look. Some homeowners combine the two approaches by leaving the frames of the bookcases in wood tones and paint the back of the units so color shows through between books, collectibles or other items on display.

A bookcase with glass doors provides extra protection from dust accumulation and prevents book covers from fading if they are in sunlight streaming from nearby windows.

Wall galleries
Shelves similar to those used in bathrooms are made of glass that may be attached to a wall without any visible supports, which gives them the appearance of "floating." Some homeowners make large floating shelves from wood, but Family Handyman magazine warns that, once installed, the substantial supports needed for a larger system are difficult to remove.

The lighter version of see-through shelves of glass, plexiglass or plastic are ideal for wall galleries that hold collectibles, vases and artwork.

Part of the decor
Some wall systems are as decorative as they are functional. HGTV featured a slanted wall of shelves that homeowners built in an outdoor pergola, but it could as easily be transported inside.

Similar to the look of a ladder propped against a wall, this type of shelving requires a sizeable amount of floor space. But in a large room, it could be an instant focal point with shelves becoming wider as they descend from the wall on which they are situated.