The terms style and functionality can be found everywhere in the world of interior design––from designer and manufacturer websites to advertisements, labels, and product pages. While their core meaning is significant in the realm of home design, you might wonder what these abstract buzzwords mean. We’re here to peel back the curtain on style and functionality as they relate to interior design and floating shelves.

add style and functionality to your home with floating shelves
Add Atyle and Functionality to Your Home with Floating Shelves: Pinterest

What Is Style?

In terms of interior design, style relates to the aesthetics of a home. A stylish home is elegant, sophisticated, and tastefully decorated. In a nutshell, a stylish home is beautiful and exhibits visual appeal. A stylish home isn’t limited to just one style; it is highly personalized according to one’s tastes. Today, you’ll find an array of styles in interiors, including but not limited to the following.

Mid-century modern style: The mid-century modern style came out of the modernism era, inspired by the European Bauhaus Period. This style is characterized by curved and geometric shapes, minimal ornamentation, and clean-lined furnishings. Interiors are airy and light and often feature vibrant and neutral colors. Spaces are open and integrate outdoors into interiors.

tromso fm1 bananarama maggie modern livingroom what makes floating shelfes functional
Tromso FM1 Bananarama Maggie Modern Livingroom What Makes Floating Shelfes Functional

Contemporary style: The contemporary style isn’t rooted in a particular decade. It can be found in a variety of present- day styles. Contemporary styles today feature clean lines, curved and straight silhouettes and shapes, and neutral colors. They are simple, elegant, and sophisticated. Rooms have open layouts, and can feature smart technology and recycled and sustainable materials.

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Runda REM Beefy Bender Ellie Modern Home Office What is Functionality

Modern rustic style: The modern rustic style is characterized by fusing contemporary and natural materials. The goal: to create a cozy, warm, and inviting atmosphere that is also functional. Materials for this style include exposed architectural details such as brick and stone, and weathered, reclaimed, or distressed hardwood. In a stylish modern rustic space, you’ll also find organic materials such as hemp and cotton fabrics paired with rustic elements.

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Aksel Ellie Modern Bedroom Teak Functional Uses

Transitional style: The transitional style is a marriage of contemporary and traditional design elements. They often feature monochromatic color palettes (varying shades of the same color), and neutral tones such as gray, greige, taupe, and cream with the occasional denim fabrics or teal accents for a delicate pop of color. Traditional architectural details like crown molding pair with graphic textiles like herringbone in neutral tones. The idea of this style is to mix classic and contemporary pieces in a tasteful manner.

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Eclectic style: Derived from the 19th century, eclectic interiors combine various materials, patterns, and furniture from different eras. In an eclectic space, you can have a mixture of metals popular with the art deco aesthetic (and Cartier) blended with wood tones from other decades. What’s important to note is although this style can showcase many pieces together, it needs to be done in a strategic fashion that is harmonious and balanced.

Eclectic Style Combine Various Materials, Patterns, and Furniture from Different Eras
Ways to Style Floating Shelves 5 Vintage

Whichever of these design aesthetics (or perhaps another) inspires you, it’s important to know that style is not dictated by a specific trend but rather by how one chooses and arranges the elements to evoke beauty and visual appeal in an interior space.

What Makes Floating Shelves Stylish?

Floating shelves create a beautiful presentation for displaying and storing your favorite decor, books, and collectibles. These shelves have a high-end look compared to cookie-cutter bookcases and storage units. Floating shelves are highly versatile, open up a space and provide a visually appealing solution in any home. Other style benefits of floating shelves include the following:

  • Add flair in a kitchen with a various cabinet styles
  • Invisible mounting hardware displays a simplicity of style
  • Design of shelves complement today’s interior styles, materials, and decorative objects
  • Provide a clean and modern look
  • Display a timeless appeal that can last for decades
  • Wood grain adds warm, character, and texture to a home
Aksel LED Aksel REM Ellie Modern Minimal Bedroom Whaata Makes Floating Shelves Stylish

What Is Functionality?

A functional design simply means it’s practical, performs well, and fulfills the purpose it was designed for. In other words, the item is useful and usable. For example, a sofa bed opens and a kitchen drawer closes.

Another way to think of functionality is in terms of a website. When you visit a website, perhaps the homepage is designed using beautiful images. However, if the menu navigation won’t direct you to the page you’re looking for, that website lacks functionality and it’s not user-friendly. You might like the appearance of a product but if the page doesn’t get you there—or provide the details you’ll seek such as pricing, dimensions, or how to care for the item—the website isn’t functional.

What Makes Floating Shelves Functional

When it comes to floating shelves, there are a few important factors that make a shelf useful, usable, and practical.

Supports the Weight of the Items It Holds

Whether you have a floating desk that holds your laptop and a lightweight printer or several floating bookshelves for a large home library, the shelving needs to support the items it holds. If the construction of the shelf or the way it’s installed can’t handle the weight of objects, it can damage your wall, crack your shelf, and even injure someone like a small child.

A functional shelf is one that is made of solid material and mounted properly to the studs or masonry block behind the wall. Typically, a floating shelf affixed to one stud holds 45 to 50 pounds, while a shelf attached to two studs can hold up to 100 pounds, whether the shelf measures 36 inches or six feet.

One hardcover book can weigh between two and seven pounds. So you can imagine how much a wall of books with a 135-pound Encyclopedia Britannica collection will weigh—not to mention the weight of any sculptures or statues made of Carrara marble! You would need a shelf attached to a minimum of three studs for every 150 pounds of weight.

In most newer homes wall studs are positioned 16 inches apart and 24 inches apart in some older homes. If you can’t locate your studs with a stud finder, you can use drywall anchors, but keep in mind a shelf supported by drywall anchors will only hold up to 20 pounds compared to shelving supported by high-quality brackets and hardware mounted into studs or masonry blocks.

Made From Quality Materials

A functional floating shelf should stand the test of time, but floating shelves can be constructed of different materials, some stronger than others, including:

  • Hardwood
  • Softwood
  • Steel
  • Other metals
  • MDF
  • Particleboard

A shelf made of hardwood has a much longer lifespan than a shelf constructed of particle board, made from glued together wood chips. If the shelf gets damaged during shipping or breaks apart if you decide to move it to another part of the house, it’s not particularly useful or practical (AKA functional).

The Right Depth To Fit Your Items

A floating shelf for your home needs to be the proper depth to fit the items on it. While a shelf that isn’t very deep can hold your paperback Game of Thrones Ice and Fire Book Series, it might not serve your oversized art book collection and coffee table books well. Always consider the depth of items you plan to place on your floating shelves before you buy them.

Functional Uses for Floating Shelves

  • Provide additional workspace by keeping clutter off kitchen countertops
  • Offer an additional lighting source under a bottom shelf
  • Keep items used daily on shelves such as coffee cups above a coffee maker or cookbooks and mixing bowls for whipping up your favorite recipes.
  • Store toiletries and items you want concealed in baskets and containers for easy access
  • Can be used as a reading nook in a quiet corner or under the stairs when you’re short on space
  • Carve out a space in an alcove, cozy corner, or in the kitchen when you don’t have a room designated for a home office
  • Create an area by the window for plants when you don't have the floor space for plant stands

Whether used as a single shelf, several bookshelves, a desk, night stand or fireplace mantle, floating shelves serve a dual purpose, adding both style (beauty) and functionality (utility) for the items you store and display in your home.

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