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How to Style Floating Shelves (in the Kitchen, Bathroom, Living Room and Bedroom)

These are multiple floating wooden shelves with various decors.

Floating shelves are a major buzzword in the world of modern home design. They look quite dreamy in images you see on Pinterest and Instagram. However, when it comes to real life, you can’t help but think about how dusty and cluttered your floating shelves will get wherever you place them. After having experienced the same dilemma about floating shelves myself, I finally settled on installing them in one room as a trial to see how they look, and to my surprise, it was the best decision I made.

If you’re worried about clutter, don’t be. Floating shelves allow you to display and store your favorite items in a clean and mindful manner. Since you can’t hide away stuff, you will be intentionally keeping your shelves tidy and organized. You also can’t possibly deny the impeccable ability of wall-mounted shelves to transform any and every room of your home, representing your personal style.

Related: What is a Floating Shelf | Kitchens with Floating Shelves | Etsy Floating Shelves | Types of Floating Shelves for TVs | Do Floating Shelves Need Studs

First things first: single or grouped floating shelves?

Single vs. Grouped Floating Shelves?

These are multiple floating shelves above the kitchen.

This is a popular question that most people ask when planning to install floating shelves: should I install a single floating shelf or an entire set (typically comprised of 3 to 5 shelves)?

Well, there’s no simple answer to this question, but all I can say is go with your gut. Both single and group floating shelves look great when styled properly. However, generally, the number of shelves you need will depend on two main things: the purpose of the shelves and the amount of available space.

For instance, say you have just about 4 feet of space between your stove and kitchen vent, it wouldn’t make sense to install three floating shelves in this space, would it? Given the need to maintain an appropriate amount of proximity between the flame and the shelf, you will have to install the shelf at least two feet high. This will leave you with just enough space to fill up one shelf instead of installing another right above it.

Symmetrical or Asymmetrical Floating Shelves?

These are asymmetrical floating shelves.

Well, the truth is that there’s no right or wrong answer for this question – it all boils down to personal preferences. Many interior designers love and appreciate symmetry. For instance, you should feel free to install the same three shelves on either side of a flat-screen TV. However, make sure to avoid replicating the same decision on both sides. Play around with balance by using different sizes and colors to maintain interesting visual points.

On the other hand, asymmetry is also a brilliant way to add visual interest to a wall. You don’t even have to stick to basic asymmetrical looks that include the classic left-right alignment of shelves. Take things up a notch by doubling the space between shelves and moving them around until you find the right spot.

How to Style Floating Shelves

Here are a few tips and suggestions on how to style floating shelves around the different rooms of your home.

How to Style Floating Shelves in the Kitchen

This is a look at the kitchen floating shelf with pot rack underneath.

The kitchen is the heart of every home. There’s nothing like sharing a meal with your family or friends or some good conversation. You generally expect kitchens to have a ton of storage, but small apartment kitchens just don’t. Fortunately, floating shelves are an excellent way to create some storage space in your kitchen while providing you with the opportunity to display certain items.

Here is how you can decorate floating shelves in your kitchen:

Dish Display

These are multiple wooden floating shelves in the kitchen.

Kitchens that lack cabinet space can benefit from floating shelves that connect to the cabinet, making them appear as a part of the original design. Put on a display of your favorite same-colored or contrasting dishes on your floating shelves. Not only is this a great way to add a pop of color to your kitchen, but it also makes it pretty convenient to grab dishes to set up the dinner table.

Create a Coffee Bar

Coffee is the essence of life for many. If you want to set up floating shelves in your kitchen just for show, then consider setting up a DIY coffee bar. Plant a nice energy-saving coffee maker, mug, coffee jar, and other coffee-making essentials on your floating shelves to allow for easy access pouring.


This is a close look at the kitchen spice shelf.

Another great way to utilize the floating shelves in your kitchen is by lining up all your daily-use spices and sauces in some pretty glass jars. Make sure to choose jars of various heights to add more visual interest to your shelves.

How to Style Floating Shelves in the Living Room

As the biggest common room of a home, the living room is the ultimate space where people choose to express their tastes and style. Floating shelves can most certainly de-clutter a living room and bring it to life via its space and simplicity.

Create a Gallery Wall

This is the living room gallery shelf above the console.

One of the best ways to fill up huge empty wall space is by creating a gallery wall. Floating shelves can be just the accessory to use to display your family photos or favorite art collection without having to poke multiple holes in the wall. If you have considerable wall space, then set up your shelves in a geometric pattern and top them off with black and white or colorful photos featuring a unique combination of textures and patterns.

Surround Your TV

These are living room floating shelves above the TV.

One of the most popular placement areas for floating shelves in a modern living room is beside the TV. Nobody likes bulky and space-consuming entertainment centers anymore. Sure, they provide storage but aren’t really the best solution for décor purposes. Floating shelves are now widely being used to frame your thinner and sleeker TVs.

You have various options to install floating shelves near your TV. Generally, those looking to cover more wall space hang three shelves on both sides of the TV; others choose to install one shelf to each side and one above and below. Lastly, those looking to keep things completely simple install one long-flowing shelf under their TV to use it as a drop spot for remotes and other devices.

Depending on how many shelves you install, you can decorate them with various items and ornaments, including books, clocks, candles, plants, figurines, candleholders, frames, etc.

Read about floating shelf option for mounted TVs.

Behind the Sofa or Couch

There is a floating shelf just above and behind the sofa.

If the wall behind your living room couch seems a bit dull and dud, adding a few floating shelves could really help the space come alive. Add some interesting decoration pieces, including coasts, candles, figurines, small crystal bowls, and maybe some framed pictures that contrast with the background wall. If you like keeping things light and fun, opt for colorful pieces that pair well with the color of the couch and the background wall.

Build a Library

This is a white living room floating shelf with books.

Books and shelves go together like croissants and jam – a perfectly delicious combo. If your living room feels a little too full for a full-sized bookshelf, invest in a few stable floating shelves to set up your personal library. The number of shelves depends on the available space and how deep your love for books goes.

The best part about stacking up books on your shelves is the endless possibilities. You can stack up your books vertically or horizontally, butting the stacks against one another. You can also coordinate the spines of different books to add pops of color to certain places on your shelves. Whether you opt to stack up the same-colored or multi-colored books, make sure to explore your options.

How to Style Floating Shelves in the Bedroom

Our bedrooms are our sanctuaries. It’s always a great idea to change things up a little from time to time to maintain your love for your bedroom.

Here are a few ways you can set up and style floating shelves in your bedroom.

As a Night Table

This is a close look at a bed that is surrounded by floating shelves.

We all know how important bedside tables are. At least, I do because I usually dump all my stuff on the table and jump in on my bed after a tiring day. Looking at the same bedside tables had gotten a little boring for me, so I decided to change things up – to maintain functionality but improve aesthetics at the same time.   

Installing wood floating shelves seemed like a great idea – and guess what – they were! Floating wood shelves allow you to select your preferred size and are quite easy to install. Two thin shelves on either side of the bed can save you a ton of floor space, making your room appear more spacious. You can also take things to another level by adding another double floating shelf to give it more of a nightstand look.

Dress up your floating shelves by keeping things as simple and as minimal as possible. Set up a scented candle, mount your alarm clock, and put up a lamp, leaving the rest of the space to keep other essentials, such as your phone and wallet.

Over the Bed

This bedroom has a floating shelf above the headboard of the bed.

Installing floating shelves asymmetrically above your bed can be an excellent space-saving décor idea. You obviously want your bedroom wall to be the center of attention, so what better way to make it the star of the show than by spicing it up with some carefully-picked décor pieces?

The height of your headboard only matters when choosing the placement of the shelf. You need to ensure that you install the shelf high enough to don’t hit your head and stack up your favorite décor.  

Over-the-bed floating shelves are ideal for family photos, neon signs, name initials, candle holders, artwork, and a small box of keepsakes.

Corner Area

This is a close look at the bedroom corner floating shelves.

You can never have enough space in your room. Fortunately, floating shelves can be used to add some storage space and a lot of visual interest to your room by simply setting up a wooden shelf in an empty corner. L-shaped floating shelves, triangle shelves, or descending pyramid shelves can make your corner look unique. Spruce them up by stacking up picture frames, potted plants, and maybe extra linen or two.

How to Style Floating Shelves in the Bathroom

Floating shelves are also commonly being installed in the bathroom – for both storage and display. There are various places to install floating shelves in the bathroom, which will ultimately determine their purpose:

Above the Bathroom Door

Utilize empty space in your bathroom by installing a floating shelf above the door. This single shelf can be quite versatile. Not only will it allow you extra bathroom storage for bath towels and other items, but it can also be used to add extra visual attraction through tiny potted plants.

Above the Toilet

This is a bathroom with shelves above the toilet by the door.

Gone are the days when we’d use flimsy behind-the-toiled storage racks. Floating shelves above the toilet are the new ideal way to streamline your toilet in a sleek way. It’s important to get the height right and install these shelves at least two feet about the toilet tank. Overall, these floating shelves are perfect for storing towels, tissue rolls, and putting up scented candles.

Between the Toilet and the Wall

Utilize the often wasted space between the wall and toilet by installing grouped floating shelves. These are a pretty handy place to set down things, such as air fresheners, extra toilet rolls, and magazines.

Beside the Bathroom Mirror

This is a bathroom with floating shelves by the mirror.

Don’t have a proper vanity in your bathroom? Don’t worry. I installed glass shelves next to my bathroom mirror, and wow! Not only do they look sleek and luxe, but they’ve also made my bathroom look cleaner and have sped up my grooming routine.

The Bottom Line

As challenging as styling a floating shelf can be, it is also fun and can have an incredibly satisfying outcome when executed properly. According to my experience, the best way to put a great-looking floating shelf look together is by playing around with different elements to find a spot where they fit perfectly. Styling your home doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Sometimes, all you have to do is fiddle and tinker away until it feels right.