Last updated: 05/16/2020

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When decorating your house, you not only need to think about the furniture, but also the smaller details. It is important to have those special personal touches in your home to make it feel like your own. One accessory that you can add to give your home that little extra something is a nice shelf. This small piece of furniture can be attached to almost any wall in your house and can hold several different objects.

Shelves can be made in different materials and can also come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. You will find a wide variety of shelves available on today’s market, so you can be certain that there is one for you. To get started, we have prepared this guide to help you choose the best shelf for your home.

Key Facts

  • When buying a shelf, you should know what you are looking for. This is important, because there are several options out there.
  • You should consider where you are going to put your shelf. Depending on which area of the house it is in, you may want it to have certain features. There are several designs that are suited for certain rooms in the house.
  • As you will see in the Buyer’s Guide, it is important to consider the measurements of the shelf and also how much weight it can hold.

Our Selection: The Best Shelf on the U.S. Market

When you purchase any product, it is always good to read the reviews from past users. This is the best way to know if the product is worth buying and if others have made good use out of it. In this section, we have gathered a selection of some of the best shelves available on the market today based on user reviews, features, and more.

The Best Budget Shelf

If you are looking for a nice shelf that won’t break the bank, then this one by Greenco is a great option for you. The espresso-colored finish will look great in any home, and will compliment nearly any wall color. It is also easy to mount and comes with all necessary mounting hardware. All for only $17, making it the least expensive product in our ranking. This set of three decorative shelves will look great in any home!

The Best Wooden Shelf

This shelf by Bayka is made with Paulownia wood, which has a natural color and clear texture, and will look great in any room. You can also customize these shelves however you like! With the triangular design, they have two unique display forms. Install these shelves with the board on top of the brackets or below, however you prefer. These floating shelves are wider and sturdier than others, and can safely hold collectibles, photos, books, toys, artwork, trophies, small plants and more.

The Best Floating Shelf

These floating shelves by Love-Kankei feature a rustic style with torched finish wood and industrial metal brackets that are decorative and a great addition to any wall space. They are very sturdy, and come with easy to follow instructions and all mounting hardware included, so it is easy to assemble. The floating design will look great in any room, and can hold all of your most valuable items.

The Best Tiered Shelf

If you are looking for something different from the traditional floating shelves, then this is a great option for you! This tiered shelf by Greenco comes with five separate shelves that form together in a decorative tiered pattern that will compliment any room. Each piece comes separately, so you can create as many designs as you like with the amount of pieces available. Place them vertically or horizontally, however you feel will look best with the personal style of your home.

Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Shelves

Now that you have seen some of the best options on the market, you can start to form a clearer idea of what you are looking for. To help make your decision, it is best to know a few features about shelves before committing to buying one. In this section, we will answer some of your most frequently asked questions and give you everything you need to know about shelves.

There are cheap and expensive options when it comes to shelves. 
(Source: Rido: 71465177/ 123rf.com)

What is a shelf?

A shelf is basically a small table that is placed horizontally on the wall and designed to hold different items. You can find several different models, as well as designs, colors, and shapes. They can have a practical use, but are also meant for decorative purposes. Some have hidden brackets, while others are more visible. You will also find a variety of different materials.

What materials are used to make shelves?

Shelves can be made with all types of different materials. It is good to know what you are looking for and what kind of appearance you want your shelves to have. Choosing the right one will mean finding the balance between your preferences and needs. Some of the main materials used to make shelves are:

  • Wood: It is the most common and brings warmth into a room.
  • Plastic: Resistant and perfect for children’s rooms.
  • Stainless steel: Very elegant, but difficult to clean.
  • Glass: Delicate, and can lighten the atmosphere in a room.
  • MDF: This is a byproduct of wood, but cheaper.

What types of wooden shelves can I find?

As you have seen in the previous section, wood is the most used material when it comes to shelves. It offers great resistance and supports a decent amount of weight. It will also last for several years. Of course, there are different types of wood, depending on its origin. Some commonly used woods are:

  • Pine. It is a cheaper material, and it can be easily painted and will last several years. It is one of the most common types of material used for shelves, although it cannot hold too much weight.
  • Cherry tree. This type of wood is more resistant and is also very attractive. It can support a decent amount of weight and is usually chosen to display valuables.
  • Oak. This is a “classy” type of wood. It is very resistant and also attractive in any room.
  • Paduak. An exotic type of wood, which boasts a bright orange color. It is more obvious in a room compared with more traditional wooden materials.
  • Walnut. It is very resistant and its nice chocolate color will contrast very well with neutral tones or even white. It is usually designed in unique shapes to give it the room more dimension.
  • Mahogany. It is commonly used for its resistance and also for its reddish color. This type of wood is great for wetter, humid climates.

Shelves are great for keeping your home tidy.
(Source: Skdesign: 46059609/ 123rf.com)

What types of shelves are there?

Another aspect you should consider when purchasing a shelf is the shape. Since it is a decorative as well as a functional object, it is important to consider the design. It should be practical, but also aesthetically pleasing. These are the different types of shelves that you will be able to find:

  • Floating shelf. They do not have any visible supports, since the hardware is internal. They give a feeling of spaciousness and make a room feel larger. However, they do not support too much weight.
  • Pyramid shelf. This is a triangle-shaped model with several smaller shelves inside.
  • Shelves with drawers. These types of shelves have drawers on the top and bottom shelf. It is very useful because it is both decorative and functional. You can store items in the drawers and also display them on the shelf. This type of design also supports more weight.
  • Adjustable shelves. They have a base that is vertically anchored to a wall. With this base, the shelves can be displayed in different ways. You can move the shelves and create new designs anyway you like.
  • Bathroom shelves. These are usually made of transparent glass and are placed next to the bathroom mirror. There are different models that are designed for different things, such as a towel hanger.
  • Recessed shelf. This type of shelf is placed in a gap between two walls. These are not very widely used, although they are very decorative, but not very practical.
  • Original shelves. Some shelves have very unique shapes that go beyond the traditional look. These can be very decorative and bring a unique aspect into a room, although some are not very practical to use.

A pyramid shelf is a triangle-shaped model with several shelves inside.
(Source: Maximkabb: 40754441/ 123rf.com)

Should I be careful while assembling shelves?

Shelves are very safe to work with, as long as you follow the instructions. They need to be installed as indicated by the manufacturer. The items should come with all the hardware and materials needed, so there should be no need to purchase extra materials. You should be sure to place the shelf in a safe place where no one will accidentally hit it. This is especially important if you have children at home.

Of course, do not load the shelf with more than the recommended weight. All objects should be placed securely so that they do not fall. Check that they will not slip off and break, even if the wall is accidentally hit.

Steve JobsCEO of Apple Inc.

“Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”

How are shelves with hidden brackets installed?

There are two types of shelf brackets, hidden and visible. For hidden brackets, they will be hidden in the wall as the name implies. You will need to have holes drilled into the wall so that the brackets can be inserted, then the blocks will be placed onto them. Visible brackets generally do not require any holes in the walls, but will be visible when displayed.

How should I install shelves with visible brackets?

With visible brackets, the fastener is on the outside of the shelf. Keep in mind that shelves that measure more than three feet will need multiple brackets. For these, you should use at least three, to avoid it bending in the middle. In this case, the board is fixed to the bracket and then to the wall. Depending on the model, it may be done the other way around.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of shelves?

In this guide, we have answered some of your most frequently asked questions about shelves and how to install them. We have also shown you a selection of some of the best options available on the market. Before giving you everything you need to make your decision, you should also take into account the advantages and disadvantages of having shelves in the first place.

Advantages
  • They help to keep your house tidy.
  • There are many different models.
  • There are quite cheap options.
Disadvantages
  • They cannot support too much weight.
  • Some require a complicated installation process.

Buyer’s Guide

Now that you have all of the information that you need to know about shelves, it is time to buy some. But what are some of the things you should look for? Your decision will be based on your personal preferences, although there are a few things you can take into account. In this next section, we will go over some of the things to look for when purchasing shelves for your home.

Use

The first thing you should consider is how you are going to use the shelf. Keep in mind that if you are planning to place heavier objects on the shelf, that you need to be sure that the one that you purchase can support the weight. If you are going to use it for books or pictures, then a straight line shape may look best. Consider where you will place the shelf and what type of design will look best with your other furniture.

A shelf is a totally safe object, as long as the instructions for use are followed.
(Source: Francesca Tosolini/ Unsplash.com)

Design

The design of the shelf is important. Although it is a piece of furniture that can have a functional purpose, you also want it to look nice in your home. You should consider the design of the shelf and how it goes with other pieces of furniture in the room and be sure that they compliment each other. However, this does not mean that it has to be the same color or style as your other furniture. Of course, the design you choose will also depend on your personal tastes and preferences.

Space

It is important that you measure the space where you are planning to put the shelf. Keep in mind any doors, windows, or other furniture. As we have mentioned, you want to put your shelf in a safe place where no one will accidentally hit it. Taking all of this into account when deciding where to place your shelf will avoid minor accidents in the long run.

Weight

You should also consider how much weight the shelf supports. Keep in mind that shelves with hidden brackets can generally only support between 10-30 lbs. Some shelves that have visible brackets that can support weight up to 80 lbs. The manufacturer should always have the weight recommendations on the packaging.

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How Many to Buy

When looking to buy shelves, you should be clear on how many you will need. For example, having only one shelf may look scarce on a large wall. This is called the rule of thirds in the world of design. It is based on the fact that the human brain perceives compositions of three or more elements as more attractive.

This is because three is the lowest number that creates a pattern. Of course, you can also use an even number of shelves. However, you may notice that most shelves come in groups of three or more, as this tends to look more aesthetically pleasing when placed on a wall.

Summary

Without a doubt, shelves are a great option to add a touch of personality to any space. They are practical, decorative, and can create an entirely different atmosphere in a room. Putting up shelves in your home can be a great way to display photographs and other valuable objects.

As you have seen in this guide, there are a number of things to take into account when considering which type fo shelf to buy. Everything from the design, to the weight will help you make the best decision. You can also have several shelves, and place them in a way that is unique to your home and your tastes.

Are you ready to buy your perfect shelf? If you liked this guide, please share it on your social media and feel free to leave us a comment below!

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Why you can trust me?

Levi Price Professional Interior Designer
Levi is a professional interior designer and knows everything there is to know about home and decor. Not only does she blog about the latest furniture trends, she also enjoys giving tips on cleanliness and interior design.