Classified according to the material, use, fixing style and more – take a look at all the different types of shelves that you can install in your house.
No matter how much technology might advance or home renovations get smarter and more modern, there are a few things that can never be replaced, let alone eliminated altogether. For instance – shelves.
Shelves are one of that vital household equipment that have been used since the beginning of time. Shelves are a must in every house because they help you keep the place neat and tidy by storing various things like books, clothes, and countless other items that would be otherwise scattered on the floor. Besides providing storage space and keeping the house organized, a proper shelving system also allows you to decorate and beautify your house by proudly displaying stunning adornments and ornaments that are normally stashed away in the attic.
While the first use of shelf dates as far back as the 8th Century and comprised of a simple slab pivoted to a vertical surface, today there are literally countless types of shelves available to the common man.
So, if you are looking for storage options for your house, then check out this comprehensive guide on the different types of shelves that you can choose from. While it’s impossible to cover all the different types of shelves at once, the following article lists the most common types that have been classified according to the material, fixing style and the purpose which they are best suited for.
Read on to find out.
Table of Contents
- By Style and Installation
- By Material
- By Purpose
By Style and Installation
Fixed Bracket Shelves (Suspended Shelves)
Fixed bracket shelves are perhaps the oldest type of shelves that have been used since a very long time (and are equally common today as well). As the name suggests, they consist of individual ‘brackets’ that are ‘fixed’ to the particular surface where the shelf has to be placed. Typically the brackets are made of metal and look like an inverted L-shape. They are secured to a wall or any vertical surface and then shelving is then aid across the other ‘arm’ of the supporting fixture.
As we mentioned that the categories might overlap, the same is the case with fixed bracket shelves. This category often includes various other types such as open storage shelves, cube shelves, bookshelves,and anything and everything that is attached to a wall using brackets and
is utilized for storing different items. Fixed bracket shelving system can consist of a single stand-alone unit ora combination of two or more shelves placed closely together (using additional brackets) to form a multi-unit storage system.
Be it bedrooms, living rooms, study or even offices, the reason why these types of shelves are so commonly used is that they are highly versatile. Not only are they available in different materials such as metal, wood, plastic and so on, but also come in different styles. Fixed bracket shelves can be bought as it is (i.e. pre-assembled and ready to be attached directly or hinged to the wall) or you can buy racks, shelves and brackets of your choice and then fix them together on your own.
A similar type of shelving system (floating shelves) are often confused with fixed bracket system but the primary difference is that in floating shelves, the point of suspension is not visible whereas,in fixed bracket systems, the bracket is often prominent. This is not really a bad thing,especially because now there are a wide variety of stylish brackets that homeowners can choose from. These can feature brackets made of carved wood, wrought-ironformed in delicate designs and many more.
With the right type of material complemented by the right type of brackets, this type of shelving system can provide lots of functionality with style.
Unless you belong to the rare or rather non-existent minority of unobservant humans, you will agree that floating shelves are hands-down the most classy and stylish shelving system. Also called torsion-box shelves, these shelves are a truly extraordinary way to store your items in an organized manner and at the same time, turn them into unique and fascinating decoration pieces.
Floating shelves are quite similar to fixed bracket or suspended shelves in the sense that they are also available in various designs and shapes and need to be secured to a wall or any other required surface. But the primary difference that sets floating shelves apart from fixed bracket shelves and makes them a more preferable option over the other is that unlike in fixed shelves where the nails and screws used to attach the shelf to the wall are clearly visible, the fixing equipment is hidden in floating shelves. And it goes without saying, that it is this very characteristic that gives a faux impression of these shelves ‘floating’ in the air.
Another distinct feature of floating shelves is that they are usually made of engineered wood that gives them a more refined and fancier finish. The assembly is supported by internal screws, nails and/or brackets that hold the different racks together and are used to mount the overall system on the wall.Like most other types of shelves, floating shelves are available in an array of different colors, size, and styles but while most other shelving systems are only a storage option, floating shelves also prove to be a fine interior decoration.
Built-in shelves are relatively simpler amongst other types of shelves but nonetheless, are highly functional as they provide ample amount of storage space without evoking a cluttered look.As is evident by the name, built-in shelves are shelves that are ‘built-in’ within corners or empty spaces of your house. For instance, alcoves or other similar spaces are turned into built-in shelving units.
This type of shelves is the simplest of all because more often than not, all you need is to install a few planks of wood horizontally in the recess in the wall and voila! You have storage space within a few minutes! However, for a more refined and sophisticated look, you can buy shelves that are specially built for this purpose or order a customized one to fit in your indented walls.
If you really want to maximize the storage space in your house, then built-in shelves are the ultimate go-to option. They can be put in several places such as alcoves, in the recess beside a chimney breast or a fireplace, above or below protruding wall cabinets or any small open space that is not very purposeful otherwise. This shelving system is restricted in the sense that its dimensions can neither exceed the width nor the depth of the recess in the wall. However, they are still flexible in some aspects because you can play around with varying shelf sizes given that they are within the appropriate limit. You can combine racks of different width and depth as well as place them in different angles to turn an apparently wasted space into a resourceful one. Moreover, if the recession is big enough, then you can leave some space at the bottom and set furniture or a small seat for added functionality.
Not many homeowners realize this but corner shelves are a brilliant way to capitalize on the storage space in your house. These shelves come in a wide variety of styles and designs and are sometimes also adjustable so that they can fit indifferent required areas. In other cases, they can be customized according to your preferences.
Corner shelves can be made up of plastic, metal, solid wood, as well as engineered or laminated wood for longer life and greater durability. Plus, they can be in a wall-hang style so that you can place them besides cabinets such as those in the kitchen or they can also be floor-based which means you can install them in corners such as those of your wardrobe or the coffee table to increase storage space.
Corner shelves are a genius way to arrange your items in easily accessible locations and turn those otherwise useless corner spaces into a purposeful storage option. These types of shelves can further be divided into two broader categories: fixed corner shelves and adjustable corner shelves. Alternatively, they can be classified according to the style in which they are constructed. For instance, there are curved corner shelves, angular corner shelves, right-angled corner shelves as well as rotating corner shelves. The following are a brief description of each of the types of corner shelves.
Right-Angled Corner Shelf
Right-angled shelf or a 90-degree shelf is the most basic type of corner shelf. It is made by simply joining two pieces of shelving or racks (of same or different lengths) at right angles to each other. This perpendicular assembly is extremely popular because it is the least expensive type of corner storage. Plus, it’s highly easy to make which means you can conveniently construct one for yourself.
Curved Corner Shelf
create a hard-to-reach area at the back. You can use curved corner shelves in your pantry to increase the storage space, in kitchen cabinets to stack extra dishes as well beside your wardrobe to make a chic decoration.
Angular Corner Shelf
This type of corner shelf is a bit similar to curved corner shelf but differs because unlike curved shelves which feature a smooth and gentle curvature, angular shelves feature a sharp and well-defined cut in the racks. They usually come in the form of an isosceles triangle which means that the two front corners areeach at 45-degrees while the angle at the back is 90-degree such that the overall rack fits in the outside as well as the inside of a corner. However, you can also find more asymmetrically angled corner shelves if you prefer eccentricity in interior designs.
Rotating Corner Shelf
Whoever first came up with the idea of a rotating corner shelf surely deserves a big round of applause. This clever design is without a doubt, the ultimate way to leverage every inch of that space in the corners or between any two big fixtures. These corner shelvesconsist of a turntable or rotating surface that is quite similar to a Lazy Susan design as it contains shelves that can spin onan unmovable base. However, these shelves are normally not sold as single units – rather they come as a part of a larger assembly of rotating shelves or a bulky shelving system that has a turning shelf in the corner. The unit is usually divided into four parts and can be spun manually in order to face different sections.
Hanging shelves are another way to store and display your items in a unique manner. Needless to say, these types of shelves are hung from a high surface such as the ceiling itself or even from the bottom of a cabinet or another unit installed at a certain height. Many people choose to install hanging shelves with transparent glass doors in the kitchen (or above the kitchen island) to add some flamboyancy besides increasing the storage space.
These types of shelves are also commonly used in classrooms as well as garages to house certain items that would otherwise be lying around and cluttering the place. For instance, books, magazines, stationery,and other tools can be stored in an easily accessible place if you have a hanging shelf in your house.
However, note that hanging shelves must not be installed on lightweight walls. You must give careful thought and proper attention to the maximum amount of load that a hanging shelf can withhold and ensure that the threshold weight-bearing level is not crossed at any given time.
Unlike most of the types of shelves discussed above which need to be mounted or fixed to a surface in one way or another, free-standing shelves do not need to be attached to a wall at all. As itappears by the name, these storage units are ready to use as it is.
These shelves are usually a type of open storage option but in certain cases, they can also come with doors to hide the belongings or drawers where you stash private things. Depending on the use and availability, you can also get a free-standing shelf that features both, open and closed storage sections. Not only are they highly functional but also look super modern as you can proudly display decorative accessories and other similar items to uplift the look of your living space.
Free-standing shelves are available in a wide variety of materials, designs, style, shapes,and sizes. For instance, cube-shaped shelves, bookcases, small cupboards and so on are considered as free-standing shelves. Therefore, no matter what your needs are, rest assured you can easily find a free-standing shelf that meets your taste and requirements.
Adjustable Slotted Shelves
Adjustable slotted shelves are a storage system that consists of vertical rails, brackets, and the shelf itself. As you might have guessed from the name, this type of shelf is one of the most flexible storage options available to homeowners. It comes in the form of a kit that contains all the necessary parts so that you can assemble it on your own.
First and foremost, the vertical nails need to be fixed to the wall at a certain distance so that the shelves can be fitted in between. After these rails have been secured to the wall, the brackets are placed in the appropriate slots. The rails have holes or slots in which the brackets are inserted or clipped. These brackets are shaped like an inverted ‘L’ pretty much the same as those in fixed bracket shelving systems. In fact, you can think of adjustable slotted shelves as a sub-category of fixed bracket shelves. Whereas the shelves of a fixed bracket system cannot be once installed, the adjustable slotted shelves can be moved up or down on the rails as required.
The adjustable shelves are usually made from light metal although you can get wooden slabs as well. The brackets and rails,however, are either made of steel or aluminum to provide strength and durability. Different designers and manufacturers offer adjustable slotted shelves in different styles and sizes so that you can find one that is suitable for your needs. But note that their parts are not normally interchangeable.
These shelving systems are best suited for garages as the ability to add, remove, or move the individual racks provides great flexibility in housing items such as tool boxes, gardening equipment,and similar household stuff. Although they are not normally used in bedrooms and the likes, you may consider installing the same if you prefer.
Adjustable slotted shelves are a simple and trouble-free method of storing your items on easily adjustable shelves in a neat and robust manner.
Pull-out shelves are a relatively lesser-known storage option although not really a new one. Pull-out shelves refer to a shelf or a rack that is installed using sliders mounted on both of its sides. They are typically installed in a closet, table or any other shelving system rather than being used in a standalone style. You can think of an average drawer as a type of pull-out shelf although many pull-out shelves only consist of a flat sliding surface without any sidewalls. For instance, the part of an office desk that can move back and forth and houses the keyboard and the mouse is also a pull-out shelf.
Based on their construction and intended use, pull-out shelves can be further divided into different categories, some of which are discussed below.
Cabinet Pull-Out Shelf
This traditional type of pull-out shelf is not only the most affordable of all options but it is also very discreet. A standard pull-out shelf can be used in various places where there is a need for some temporary storage space. For example, you can install one beneath a counter, table or an existing shelf where it can remain hidden pulled out and pushed back in when needed.
The space under stairs is sometimes wasted. One solution is to create shelving under the stairs or in the example above, create shelving stairs. It’s a cool look.
Wood is by far the most popular and most widely used material when it comes to shelving systems for the home. The reason behind this massive fame is that wood is a durable material plus it offers a sophisticated and magnificent look that is unattainable by any other material. Also, wood can be combined with other material or processed in different ways to match the needs requirements of different shelving systems.
For instance, particleboard is known for its strong, hard surface that comes with a neat finishing, plywood is prized for being a more economical option while solid pine lumber is renowned for its stately beauty and sturdiness. Engineered wood is becoming more sought-after due to its properties that include longer life and an attractive appearance.
Wooden shelves are not common in bookcases but also used in kitchens, bedrooms, living rooms and virtually anywhere in your house.
While glass shelves are nowhere as durable as wooden shelves, they are an equally popular material for shelving systems in the house because of their visual appeal.
Glass shelves are a common sight in modern bathrooms because they are the ideal choice for bearing light weight loads and providing a shiny and exquisite touch. However, you can also use glass shelves in living rooms as well as a bedroom to place varying ornaments and small vases to beautify the interiors of your house.
Steel and Metal Shelves
Steel and metal shelves provide tough and resilient shelving units that are far easier to clean and maintain as compared to wooden and glass shelves. They can bear a significant amount of load and are,therefore, usually used in offices and commercial kitchens as well as retail shops and warehouses. In an average house, one or two steel shelves might be employed in the kitchen to store heavy pots and pans.
On the other hand, compared to steel shelves, metal shelves are more commonly spotted in different places around the house. For example, sleek and ornamental metal shelves in the living rooms look really trendy while adjustable metal shelves are a familiar sight in garages, storeroom and laundry rooms.
While different types of wood and sometimes even metal are generally preferred for large and small shelving systems, you will find plastic normally used in storage units for children’s rooms as well as for various storage dividers and home organization units.
Plastic shelves can be used in the house for certain purposes such as shoe storage, small bookshelf or magazine stand,and the likes.
Fabric shelves are typically hung on a door or in a closet. They’re a way to efficiently store clothing but can hold other items as well.
Who says you need shelves only for study room? Shelving systems are also required in bedrooms for various reasons. You need a place to keep certain accessories such as a clock, books,and magazines as well as any other decorative pieces to adorn your room and give it a more personalized and homely feel.
There is a wide variety of bedroom shelves that you can choose. The most commonly used shelves for bedroom include standalone bookcases, wall-mounted open shelves, floating shelves of various styles as well as headboard shelves and more. When selecting one for your retreat zone, consider essential factors such as how big your room is, what you want to use the shelf for and whether the design and material will match the interiors or not.
Bathroom and Closet Shelves
Another great way to add tons of style and functionality to your room is to go for the bathroom and/or closet shelves. Closet shelves refer to specialized shelving units that fit inside a wardrobe or can be customized in order to fit the given dimensions. These shelves can also be divided into further compartments to neatly store small items such as jewelry, wallet, wristwatch and other accessories.
Similarly, bathroom shelves are used to hold daily essentials such as toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo,and the likes. A typical bathroom shelf is installed beneath or beside the wall mirror but if that isn’t enough or if you need more space to stock items such as washed towels then you can opt for different bathroom shelves that fit your taste and requirement. Open shelves and modern bathrooms go hand in hand. So, if you want to create an inspiring bathroom, then don’t forget to add a great shelf (or more).
No kitchen is complete without proper furnishing and sufficient storage space.While cabinets and cupboards are definitely the first thing to consider for the purpose, a good shelving system can also help take the design and functionality to a completely different level. Contemporary kitchen designs have significantly shifted towards the use of open storage shelves. Sleek and elongated shelves that cover a significant part of a wall are being incorporated into more and more modern kitchens. Besides maximizing the space available, such kitchen shelves also add a lot of luster and shine to the place. Why keep all that beautiful china and crockery hidden away in closed cupboards when you can also use them as a chic interior decoration?
Many open style kitchen shelves also have hook and nails as the bottom where you can hang pots and pans or other ornaments to turn your kitchen into a modern space with character.
Other kitchen shelves include corner shelves, hanging shelves, and wall-mounted shelves as discussed above.
Pantry shelves generally refer to pull-out shelves that closely resemble drawers. However, pantry pull-out shelves are usually more open in order to provide better visibility and ease in accessing different food items.
Do you often remember some food item you once bought and after searching the whole kitchen, find it in a corner in your pantry only to realize that it has already expired? If this happens frequently in your house, then you must consider installing proper pantry shelves. Pantry shelves ensure that food cans, bottles, sauce packets, cereal boxes,and other food products remain under proper view and do not sit unused in the back of the pantry only to expire because you forgot to use them in due time. A pull-out pantry shelf means that all the items are neatly stacked and nothing gets hidden at the back. These shelves usually feature handles or scalloped edges so that you can slide the shelves in and out without any trouble at all.
Other types of pantry shelves include rotating fixtures and door shelves as well as freestanding and sliding units that can be placed in small, empty spaces such as that between a refrigerator and a kitchen counter.
This covers the major types of shelves that will help you choose the best one for your house.
Home Stratosphere is an award-winning home and garden online publication that’s a result of our talented researchers and writers who work directly with hundreds of professional interior designers, furniture designers, landscape designers and architects from around the world to create helpful, informative, entertaining and inspiring articles and design galleries.