The beauty of floating shelves is that without visible brackets or hardware there is nothing to distract the eye from your display. In contrast to a traditional shelf unit, a set of floating shelves creates a light and airy visual impression that creates a focal point without necessarily dominating the wall. They also free up the space under the shelves for seating, storage or large display items.
Choosing your shelves
Opt for dark shelves on a pale wall, or vice versa, for a high-contrast look with lots of pop. Alternatively, choose glass shelves or solid shelves that match the wall for a barely-there impression that puts all the focus on the items you’re displaying. Custom-built shelves can be matched to your case goods to help create a perfectly coordinated room.
Placing your shelves
Designing a room is a bit like planning a city; if you can’t spread out, build up. Floating shelves look great above the sofa, over doors, between windows, alongside the vanity or ascending up the wall beside the stairs. Fill a corner with a set of triangular or L-shaped floating shelves to turn an under-utilized space into the perfect spot for displaying accessories. Use long, low floating shelves as an alternative to a buffet to display your dishes, glasses and servingware rather than hiding them away. Replace bulky bedside tables with a floating shelf or two on either side of the bed, to give yourself a handy space for lamps, books and glasses of water without taking up a ton of room. If you don’t have a full room to set aside for an office, create a micro office by installing a floating shelf at desk height. Suddenly, you’ve got a dedicated home for your laptop and no awkward desk legs to bang into.
In a smaller bathroom, powder room or dressing room, do away with cabinets in favour of displaying your towels, cosmetics and other essentials with pride. You’d be surprised how much space this frees up, and how an awkward wall or nook can be made both useful and attractive with the addition of floating shelves. Walk-in wardrobes can also benefit from floating shelves as homes for shoes, bags and favourite accessories that are too good to hide away.
Styling your shelves
Perhaps the most obvious use for floating shelves is as a contemporary alternative to a bookcase. Display your book collection with a little extra verve by organizing them by color, either as a rainbow or with a single color family per shelf. Floating shelves are also ideal for displaying accents, art, and collections of personal items. Larger pieces like framed artworks should sit at the back of the shelf — you can choose to hang them or just lean them against the wall for an arrangement that can be updated anytime. Look for accents that complement one another, but remember to work a variety of heights, widths and shapes in there. Aim to position taller items on the ends of the shelves for balance, layer smaller and shorter items in front of the larger ones, and try arranging them at a variety of depths for visual interest. Plants and fresh flowers add an ever-changing dimension of color and life to any shelf display. Remember that odd numbers of items tend to look more harmonious together.