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How High to Hang Floating Shelves

Collage photo of floating shelves over the kitchen counter, sofa and toilet.

Floating shelves are a beautiful addition to any room and look amazing when you’re trying to go for a minimalist appearance. Floating shelves give you lots of storage and decorative space without being too clunky.

Although floating shelves are awesome, it can be tricky to determine exactly how high to hang these shelves. I have pondered this particular question myself when installing new hanging shelves in my home.

That’s why this article will be most useful for anyone planning to hang new floating shelves—it’s going to answer all the questions that pop up during such a project.

But before you jump in and start getting ready to hang your floating shelves, there are a few considerations to keep in mind. These considerations will make your project a lot easier.

Related: Types of Floating Shelves for TVs | Does a Floating Shelf Above a Fireplace Look Good? | Do Floating Shelves Need Studs? | How Much Weight Can Floating Shelves Hold?

Consider Purpose

The most important element to remember is what you’ll be using your hanging shelves for. Will they be used to display your favorite decor items, photos, or family heirlooms? Or will they be used for storage? 

If decor is your main motivation, the shelves can be installed a bit higher and out of reach of any curious small hands or pets. If storage is the hanging shelves’ purpose, they need to be installed at a height that is easy to reach.

Consider Location

Where will you install the shelves? Will they be hanging in your kitchen, over a desk, in the hallway or living room, over a toilet, or over a sofa?

Over A Sofa

White sofa, shelf, and floor lamp in contemporary living room with brick wall in 3D rendering.

If you want to place your hanging shelves over a sofa to display your favorite plants or photos, you’ll find it makes a nice addition to the living room. It’s important, then, to hang the shelves at such a height that they don’t look oddly out of place.

It’s also important that you don’t hang the shelves at a height where they will be in the way so that tall people bump their heads. It might be good to hang these shelves at eye level if possible.

Over a Kitchen Counter

A close-up of the interior of a kitchen cabinet with open shelves, various-sized wooden drawers, a white worktop, and walls.

Hanging floating shelves over a kitchen is a popular idea, and offers many storage opportunities. You can store cups, plates, herbs, cutting boards, and just about anything on these shelves.

Typically, floating shelves in the kitchen look best when they’re placed over countertops. You should then install them at least a foot or a foot and a half over the countertop if there is enough space.

If you’re installing more than one hanging shelf, hang them about a foot apart. However, the distances depend on what you’ll be storing and how close to each other they should be for convenience.

Related: Kitchens With Floating Shelves

Over a Toilet

Collage photo of floating shelves over the kitchen counter, sofa and toilet.

Having floating shelves in the bathroom over the toilet allows for convenient storage as well as interesting decoration. You can store toilet paper, extra towels, decorative items, and plants on these shelves.

Install the shelves about two feet above the toilet tank for the best look and most convenience, and keep them about a foot apart.

How Many Floating Shelves to Hang Together

This can be a tricky decision to make. The number of shelves you should install together mostly depends on what you’re using them for and how much space you have available.

You can install three to six floating shelves together and they will look great if you have the space for so many. 

How Far Apart to Hang Floating Shelves

Keep in mind what you’ll place on the shelves so you can logically decide how far apart they should be. Generally, you can install floating shelves about 16 inches apart. This allows for enough space to store your items without looking cramped. At a minimum, you should have 12 inches of space between your shelves.

Tools and Supplies Needed to Hang Floating Shelves

Woman using a cordless drill to erect a wooden shelf at home.

When installing floating shelves, you will need several tools and supplies to ensure the project is done without a hitch. Here’s a quick look at what you’ll likely have to have near at hand:

  • A level
  • Measuring tape
  • Stud finder
  • Drill with a drill bit
  • Screws
  • Pencil 

How to Install Floating Shelves

Fortunately, floating shelves are fairly easy to install. As long as you make sure you have all the supplies you need ready, and that you know where to install your shelves, you won’t have any difficulties.

Here follows the steps you need to follow to correctly install your new floating shelves:

Mark Placement

First, you need to mark the exact place where you want to install your floating shelves. Once you have determined where you want them, use a measuring tape to mark the appropriate heights and mark them with a pencil. You’ll also have to measure and mark where additional shelves need to go if you’re hanging more than one.

Find Wall Studs

With room for text on the right, close-up of a row of exposed wood-framed, timber wall studs against a background of home building.

The next step is to use a stud finder and identify where the wall studs are. Your floating shelves will be much more secure if you hang them on wall studs. They should be about 16 to 24 inches apart, so you can plan according to those measurements.

Drill Pilot Holes

Once you know the exact spots where your floating shelves need to go and where the wall studs are, you will have to drill pilot holes. This is where the shelves will hang once your project is completed.

Attach Bracket

You next have to match the shelf bracket of your hanging shelves with the pilot holes you’ve drilled. Drive the screws you have through the bracket and into the premade pilot holes. Make sure you secure the bracket properly.

Hang the Shelves

On a gray wall, a stylish shelf is holding a variety of dinnerware.

Now you have to slide the floating shelves onto the brackets that you have securely installed on your wall. This part should be easy as the shelves should slide easily up against the wall onto the bracket.

Decorate and Fill 

The fun part comes next. It is time for you to start decorating your floating shelves. Place the plants, decorative items, picture frames, or storage items you planned to put on the shelves and arrange them to your satisfaction.

Tips To Determine the Right Height for Floating Shelves

Need a few quick tips to help you decide where you should install your floating shelves? I got you covered! The following three questions will help you decide the perfect height for your shelves. How you answer will give you the information you need.

How You Use Them

The purpose of your floating shelves can be a big factor in how high they should be. If you want to store everyday items that you’ll have to reach easily and want to store safely, the shelves shouldn’t be too high. If you store important family heirlooms, you need to make sure the shelves are high enough, so children or curious adults can’t easily pick up the decorative items.

Where You Place Them

If you want to use the shelves in your bathroom, they should be at eye level and close enough to reach easily if items like toilet paper and soap are stored on them. In a kitchen, they should be about 18 inches above the kitchen counters or the space will feel cluttered and crowded.

How Many Should You Hang?

This can depend on where you want to install your floating shelves as well as your taste in decor. If you like a minimalist look, you’ll be happy with only two or three shelves. If you want to create interesting visuals, you’ll love having up to six shelves spaced out on your wall, as long as you have the space for so many.

Install Your Floating Shelves Today!

Now that you know all you need to know about how high to hang floating shelves, nothing is stopping you from getting yours put up and start decorating!