Three more innovative ways to use shelves

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When we think of shelving units, we’re probably all seeing the same image: a standard-sized, rectangular piece of furniture with six or so shelves, taking up prime real estate on a clear wall and housing books, DVDs or CDs. However, with small-space living taking off in cities all over the world and young professionals fighting back against the idea that a studio flat can’t be stylish, the humble bookshelves have had a new lease of life, with homeowners finding ever-more-innovative ways to employ them around the home. Read on for a guide to three brand new classics.


Room divider s

One way of getting the most out of a shared-use space such as a kitchen-diner, dining-living room or a studio flat where bed, sofa and dining table are cheek-by-jowl, is to carefully ‘zone’ your space. Closing off each area entirely would create cramped, dark rooms too small to be used comfortably, but establishing different zones, depending on how the space is used, is a neat visual trick which creates visual cohesion and cuts some of the clutter. Instead of erecting a single-use piece of furniture like a screen as a room divider, a tall set of shelves, ideally ceiling-height, can be used to establish a separate zone behind which there is a different quality of light and even a little privacy. This trick is a perfect way to screen off the bedroom from the kitchen, or at the least hide the washing-up while you’re on the sofa watching TV. Best of all, the shelves can be used from both sides, making them multi-functional! Try loading one side with your favourite glassware and crockery to bring a little elegance to the dining area, and using the other side as a bedside table in the bijou sleeping space beyond: just enough room for a book, a lamp and an alarm clock. Sweet dreams!

Landing strip

Shelves don’t have to be used for single, permanent collections on display: they can be kept clear for a constant or rotating flow of day-to-day items you need to have close to hand. In many modern flats we walk straight in the front door and into the living room, without the hallway space for throwing coats, boots and bags down like you might in a house. In this situation, what we need is a ‘landing strip’, a clear, elevated space where we can put things down on the go and snatch them up on the way out the door. A credenza or a single floating shelf does the job, but a single clear shelf on a wall of shallow shelves saves a lot of space.

Open clothes storage

If your house or flat doesn’t have much built-in storage and you can’t do much to it as long as you’re renting, it can be tricky to solve the issue of clothing storage. Wardrobes are not an effective use of space, too deep and low to minimise footprint while maximising capacity, the golden rule of small-home living. Open shelving is a light, bright and fun way to store folded clothes. Team it up with a small rack of hanging storage for the perfect lightweight wardrobe solution for renters. Nifty!

Author bio

The author is a first-time homeowner blogging about interior design tips and tricks and sharing her renovation diary with the world. She uses the nifty bespoke design tool on to design her dream bookshelves.


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