Shelves are usually the last thing a person thinks about when decorating their home. Bigger furniture like couches and tables is a more pressing matter in an empty room, but those bare walls will need tending to once all that is settled.
Disclosure: We may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.
There are so many options out there for shelves that we couldn't possibly cover every single one in this post – but we gave it a go. From classic bookcases to abstract shelving units and everything in between, we've curated a list of 21 great options for wall shelving that is guaranteed to inspire your next interior design project.
Whether your vibe is modern or rustic, whether you have a ton of space or just a small corner to fill, we've got it covered. Keep reading to find the perfect shelves for your space.
1. Classic Floating Shelves
Sleek, modern, and simple – display all your favorite knick-knacks on floating shelves in your living room. Look for a set that includes multiple shelves of the same size for a tidy appearance. These shelves installed right above your couch, or a comfy chair will add a homey feeling to your space.
2. Recessed Shelves
If you have a recessed wall in your home, you know how difficult it can be to furnish that area, but a shallow space that's too small for anything else can be perfect for shelves! If you can't find floating shelves that are the exact length of the area, don't be afraid to go to a hardware store and ask for help. Most places will cut a slab of wood to your requested measurements.
3. Circular Shelving Unit
For a modern twist, look for a fun circular shelving unit instead of the classic straight-across option. These shelves are like a piece of art on their own; the shelf space is just a bonus! Try decorating yours with a vining plant, as shown above. The long downward lines created by the plant are an interesting contrast to the round shelves.
4. Open Backed Bookcase
For apartment dwellers everywhere who can't drill holes into their rental's walls, try this trick. A bookcase with lots of small sections like the one above mimics the shelves' look without the risk to your security deposit. Look for a backless option, so the wall shows through – this will be truer to the desired effect.
5. Staggered Floating Shelves
This idea is perfect for home offices. Two floating shelves that are slightly staggered give you tons of room for essential objects and offer a more interesting silhouette on the wall. Use them for books, planners, a calendar, or anything your heart desires!
6. Kitchen Shelves
The kitchen may seem like an odd place for shelves, but you'd be astonished at how much counter space you'll save with this tip. Install them just off to the side of your stove for important cooking utensils, so your spatulas are always at arm's reach. Or, if you lack cabinet space, display your plates and wine glasses on the shelves instead.
7. Small Floating Shelves
If you need to fill up space on a big empty wall with something dynamic and interesting, look no further than a set of small floating shelves. Each shelf has enough space for one small object or a little stack of books. It will be like giving each of your favorite items their own stage!
8. Bathroom Shelves
Similar to the kitchen, not many people think of their bathroom as an ideal place for shelves. But if you have limited countertop space next to your bathroom sink, shelves are the perfect solution. Use them for your skincare and makeup products or take a tip from the photo above and use a small shelf to display hand towels for your guests.
9. Repurposed Storage Rack
A metal or wood storage rack commonly used for pantry or closet storage can be a fantastic makeshift shelving option. The open design almost perfectly mimics classic wall shelves' look, and some even come on wheels for easy moving. Decorate yours with trinkets, books, and plants.
10. Honeycomb Shelves
More shelves that double as a piece of art – what's not to love? The honeycomb design of these particular shelves is as pleasing to the eye as it is functional. Whether you decide to fill the cubbies or not, they would look adorable in any room.
11. Cubicle-Style Shelves
Another excellent option for home offices and studies, cubicle style shelving, is incredibly stylish and functional. This particular design fits perfectly around a desk (or even around a bed frame) and creates much-needed storage space in small rooms.
12. Box Shelves
Get more bang for your buck by swapping out classic floating shelves for box shelves. Not only do they have a more interesting look, but they also have extra shelf space. Put objects on both the bottom and top shelves to maximize storage ability.
13. Book Shelf Cubbies
This idea looks great in a nursery or child's bedroom. Keep all of your child's favorite picture books in one place with bookshelf cubbies. Not only are they cute, but books can't fall off like they could on a normal wall shelf or bookshelf.
14. Abstract Bookshelf
A bookshelf with an interesting shape like the one above may not be practical for all your books, but it can take the place of a wall shelving unit in a pinch. Similar to circular or honeycomb shelves, an abstract bookshelf is a piece of art on its own – the storage space is just a bonus.
15. Long Corner Shelves
Have an awkward corner in your home that you don't know what to do with? Corner shelves can solve that problem in a pinch, plus they maximize the amount of shelf space you get by utilizing the entire corner of the wall. What else can you put in the corner of a room that will fit so snugly?
16. Small Corner Shelves
If you're strapped for space, look for small shelves that just fit in the corner of a room without extending out on either side. This trick is a lifesaver in small apartments or homes with many windows where you may not be able to find wall space for shelves otherwise.
17. V-Shaped Shelves
V-shaped shelves are perfect for stylishly holding rolled-up towels and linens for easy access. DIY this idea by purchasing an even number of regular floating shelves and installing them at an angle. If you look closely at the photo above, you can tell that these shelves are four separate units that expertly fit together!
18. Hanging Shelves
Hanging shelves look great in homes with rustic-themed interior design. Install one in a convenient spot or buy multiples and hang them on top of each other like in the photo above for a makeshift bookcase made only out of shelves!
19. Wire Shelves For Dishes
This is a fun DIY hack that will make your life so much easier in the long run. Did you know a wire shelf can be used as a dish rack? Install it above your sink, so your dishes drip right down the drain for a mess-free kitchen.
20. Invisible Book Shelves
Invisible bookshelves are a fantastic way to display your favorite novels. The actual hardware required is just a small bracket that will safely fit a stack of books, so they look like they're floating! This kitschy shelving idea is perfect for all the bookworms out there.
21. Picture Ledge
Rather than hang art directly on your walls, take a design tip from Pinterest and install a picture ledge instead! This fun idea is an innovative way to display your favorite pictures and prints. Rather than fuss over ten picture frames and trying to get them all straight, just put up two of these shelves and skip all the hassle.
22. Copper Pipe Shelves
These copper pipe shelves are the pinnacle of cool and rustic. If your home needs a little bit of flair, but you don't know where to start, try upgrading your shelves with something like this. It's storage and style all in one.
The Perfect Shelves Are Out There
Shelves don't have to be plain and boring. Spice up your home and take inspiration from any of these awesome wall shelving ideas. Curating the perfect look in your living room or kitchen is only a click away, so invest in a floating picture ledge or a set of honeycomb shelves and make anyone who enters your home say "wow!"
Check out these articles below for more tips, tricks, and ideas: