11 Practical and Pretty Uses for Shelving

Jean L./flickrLet's have a round of applause for the humble household shelf. The purpose of this handy bit of carpentry may seem deceptively simple -- a place to put stuff. However, that description doesn't do your shelving full justice. Let's add the facts that installing a few shelves is a great, fast and affordable storage solution that can double as an appealing upgrade to your interior decor. Here are 11 ways to improve your home with shelvinge.

  1. Plant pots. Provide additional window-side spots for your house plants when you don't have enough space on your sills. Position shelving so that sun lovers like cheerful geraniums or easy-care succulents will be able to soak up more of the light they love.

  2. Work space. Transform any convenient corner (in your underused dining room or guest room, perhaps?) into a part time home office with a sturdy fold-down shelf. Voila! You'll have an instant surface for writing and laptop use which can be tidily stashed away when it's no longer needed.

  3. Bathroom storage. Squeeze extra storage (think hand towels or cleaning supplies) into a bathroom or laundry by hanging space-efficient floating shelves. A custom-built eyeglasses shelf next to the shower is another convenient touch.

  4. Treasure trove. Display a prized collection on its own dedicated shelving. If you're not a collector as such, try unifying an apparently random group of objects. Find a common theme they share (for example, wooden items) or arrange them into a charming vignette.

  5. Toy organization. Encourage your kids to declutter. Learning to put toys and books away neatly in the appropriate drawer may be too challenging for young children, while dumping everything into a hold-all toy box only tends to create more mess. A simple system of shelves is, like Baby Bear's porridge, just right.

  6. Mason jar display. Show off your stock of amazing homemade pickles and preserves. If you've gone to all the work of home canning, why not flaunt the gorgeous results? After all, mason jars are always in fashion.

  7. Dead space transformation. Make practical use of the dead space over a door frame. It's the perfect place to hang a shelf for storage of out-of-season or bulky items. Stow your duvet or air humidifier away until next winter arrives.

  8. Junk nook. Every home has its own assortment of odds and ends that need to be kept close at hand -- small tools, light bulbs, rolls of tape, or what have you. Keep miscellaneous whatchamacallits neat by tucking them away in clearly labeled, attractive baskets or small boxes and arranging them on their own special shelves.

  9. Command central. Install a command central shelving system in your front entrance or mud room. Make sure there's a place for everything -- keys, backpacks, sunhats, dog leash, just for starters -- and keep everything in its place. Subdivide into cubbies and compartments to stow phones, charging cords, and the like. Don't forget to tack on a chalkboard for important family messages.

  10. Fake window. Mimic the effect of a window to brighten up your surroundings. In an overly dim room, install a shelving unit that's been painted a sunny yellow or a sky blue. (For the most visually pleasing effect, choose a hue which is several shades deeper than the room color.) Arrange a few pretty rocks or pinecones -- or a "bouquet" of found objects like feathers and porcupine quills -- on it to bring a touch of nature into a closed indoor space.

  11. Bookcase. Use shelves to store your … wait for it … actual books. If you still love to read real paper-and-ink editions, make your hardbound volumes and paperbacks a focal point in your home.

The simplest shelves are a fantastic newbie DIY project especially considering the cost to install built-in shelving.To install more complex shelving, hire a reliable carpenter. 

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

Updated May 16, 2018.

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