Both stylish and versatile, floating shelves can add visual interest, dimension, and depth to nearly any space. Anchored to a wall, and fastened with hidden brackets, these seemingly magical storage solutions offer a functional and attractive way to display and organize your everyday items and treasured collectibles. You can showcase pottery from your travels, cookbooks [with mouthwatering recipes], and family heirlooms and antiques [that tell stories and turn back time], says Jenette Di Fazio (Interior Designer at OnePoint Renovation).
“A floating shelf is like a blank canvas, and what you display on it will make a statement to express your style and define your design aesthetic.” At the same time, floating shelves provide ample floor space, open up a room, and “make a space feel on-trend.” They can fit into almost any nook or cranny in a home when cut to the appropriate length.
With the abundant shelving choices that we offer at Shelfology, choosing the right floating shelf style to express your personality can be easier said than done (unless you know exactly what you’re after).
To bring you insight and inspiration––and to help you choose the ideal floating shelves to express your style, we’ve tapped into the expertise of design pros, Jenette Di Fazio, Interior Designer at OnePoint Renovation; Editor in Chief at Foter Mag, Chloe Hughes; and LA Interior Designer Marbé Briceno of Marbé Designs.
Identify Your Design Aesthetic
One’s design aesthetic is defined by implementing the principles of design and combining different forms, visual lines and color palettes, and balancing positive and negative space, says Di Fazio.
When selecting decor elements to enhance your home, Di Fazio suggests viewing your existing furniture, cabinets, and flooring. “This exercise will help you uncover your personal style preferences,'' she says.
“Look at your furniture’s lines; are they straight, curvy, or mixed? Are your cabinets painted or made of a natural wood finish? Is your flooring dark or light?” suggests Di Fazio. “Don’t be afraid of mixing wood tones; not everything needs to match, however, your materials should complement one another in the same space.”
The design of your floating shelf should be complementary and not compete with your existing decor, says Hughes. “If you have a modern, minimalist style, sleek, simple shelves in a bright color would be a good choice.”
"If your home has a more traditional or country style, wooden shelves on a decorative background like a whitewashed brick backsplash or a nature-inspired wallpaper pattern may be more appropriate." Whatever your style, make sure the floating shelves are the right size and shape for the space you have available.
6 Interior Design Styles You’ll Swoon Over in 2022
While we certainly can’t cover every interior design style with the detail each deserves in one post (without making your eyes tire and droop), the following list will whet your appetite.
1. Art Deco
Art Deco harkens back to the roaring twenties (famous for flappers and speakeasies) and continued through the 1940s. This modern style experiencing a revival today is characterized by geometric shapes, the use of luxurious metals that reflect natural light, and precious stones (think emeralds and rubies).
The repetition of elements such as animal anatomy, nature’s forms like sunrises, opaque glass, and soft stucco textures were widely used during the period, says Briceno. “The well-known chevron pattern [came out of the deco era],” says Briceno.
Briceno recommends using a mixture of materials and metals (Cartier has been mixing metals for over a century and they’ve never gone out of style!)
“With black gloss floating shelving, we can never go wrong,” says Briceno. “Black always elevates a space giving that opulent feeling, and when it is glossed even more. Black shelving with touches of brass accents and an artistic piece of marble would be very easy to evoke the art deco aesthetic.
Pro Design Tip: “Around the fireplace, connect floating shelves in different widths and lengths into a zig-zag pattern, forming a rhythm around the [hearth]; then place a floating shelf on top that acts as a traditional mantel but is not so literal,” Briceno says. “You can mount small warm LED strips that when lit would create depth, illuminating the shadows from the floating shelves and contributing to the movement we want to achieve with the composition,” Briceno says.
Neutral palettes, clean, simple lines, and subtle sophistication define the contemporary style. Unlike modern design, contemporary interiors aren’t rooted in a particular decade or era. “They reflect the design trends of present-day culture and they’re constantly evolving,” says Di fazio.
“In contemporary homes, natural and recycled materials streamline with fewer details creating a feeling of openness,” says Di Fazio. “We see a combination of recent, diverse periods and cultures merging with new technology trends.”
When designing for a contemporary space, Di Fazio recommends Shelfology’s Tromso all-steel floating shelf in black matte. “It’s the perfect minimal yet detailed shelving, keeping a space clean while adding texture and color,” says Di Fazio. “It’s like adding eyeliner that pops and highlights and makes a statement without being loud.”
ProDesign Tip: Are your cookbook covers too colorful or too bland? To create a uniform look, Di Fazio recommends wrapping cookbook covers in butcher paper or brown bags to cover them up. You can also cover them in colored paper to match your color palette.
Originating from late 19th-century architecture, creators of the eclectic style began to mix different materials by combining ornaments and periods in a single building, says Briceno. “In [eclectic interiors], we can mix what we like in the same space, as long as everything flows and has harmony and balance,” says Briceno.
According to Briceno, eclecticism is about curating different pieces from different eras and styles such as patterns, colors, figures, art, or furniture in the same space. “As long as the space is composed strategically and balanced together with the rest, it will be a remarkably eclectic space.”
To achieve the eclectic style with floating shelves Briceno recommends using walnut floating shelves, and in the same room installing a blue powder matte or a white gloss floating shelf to create contrast.
Pro Design Tip: Choose a sofa with clean lines and a couple of chairs from the 19th century, curated with a fresh fabric that plays with the tones of the sofa, says Briceno. “You can also add a chandelier.”
4. Mid-Century Modern
One might think mid-century modern design emerged during the Mad Men era of liquid lunches and Lucky Strike ad campaigns of the 1960s. Sorry, Don Draper, this timeless aesthetic featured in 5-star hotels and stylish homes around the world today, dates back to the middle of the 20th century, hence the name mid-century.
Characterized by simple, clean lines, curved shapes, and minimal ornamentation, Mid-century interiors are typically light and airy, with vibrant colors and natural materials such as teak woods and stone facades, says Hughes.
Emphasis is placed on the fusion of indoor and outdoor spaces to encourage a sense of continuity with nature, Hughes continues. “This type of design often features an open plan, which allows for flexibility and movement within the space with a focus on functionality and uncluttered spaces.”
Color palettes display bright accent colors against primary neutral tones of white, black, and wood tones, says Hughes. “Earthy greens, bright fall oranges and yellows, muddy browns, sea blue-greens such as aquamarine and teal, and deep clay red [are among mid-century modern hues].”
For your floating shelves, choose a black gloss, honey mustard yellow, aqua, tungsten matte, or a nutmeg-stained rough shelf with texture.
Pro DesignTip: In the great room, frame a fireplace with floating bookcases, one on each side in the same finish and material as the mantel.
5. Modern Rustic
If you love the rustic charm of exposed beams and distressed wood but also fancy the contemporary elegance and simplicity found in today’s newest homes, look no further than the modern rustic aesthetic to create a chic and relaxed vibe.
The modern rustic aesthetic can be characterized as a synthesis of natural and contemporary design elements that create a warm, comfortable, and functional space, says Hughes. “This [interior] style often features natural materials such as weathered wood, stone, and exposed brick used to create the aesthetic.”
“Furniture and decor pieces are typically simple and streamlined to avoid appearing too busy or cluttered,” says Hughes. “Lighting is often used to highlight the natural features of the space for a cozy atmosphere.”
Design elements you’re likely to find in a modern rustic home include the following:
Weathered architectural details
Vintage furniture juxtaposed with modern fabrics
Natural stone fireplaces
Earth-tone and muted color palettes
Natural wood and wrought iron furnishings
For a floating bookcase or a floating desk in the modern rustic setting, choose from our extensive hardwood collection. Hughes recommends choosing floating shelves in unfinished ash hardwood, raw unfinished walnut, raw unfinished maple, or white oak.
Pro Design Tip: The key to creating a successful floating shelf display in the modern rustic style is to make sure that the shelves are evenly spaced and that the items on the shelves are balanced, says Hughes.
Marrying traditional and contemporary design elements, it’s no wonder the transitional style is found on so many pages of interior design magazines. The transitional aesthetic features vanilla, taupe, and greige neutral color palettes that share the space with deep brown hues and often a pop of color like a blue denim or blue-green accent.
Traditional architectural details like classic molding juxtapose modern, graphic textile patterns (think chevron in cream and muted brown). “Blending heirlooms with newer items can be grounding in a space bringing in comfort and freshness,” says Di Fazio. “Plants are another good way to bring in life and neutralize the old with new.”
When selecting finishes for a transitional project, we have recommended Shelfology’s Aksel RADius,” says Di Fazio. “The curves are dramatic and bring attention to detail, adding something new yet still feeling comfortable to the space.”
Pro Design Tip: Add a unique perspective to your workday by creating a feature wall for your home office. Display your favorite black and white photos on a white floating shelf anchored on a light gray painted wall. (It’s a showstopper!) Make sure to screw brackets into the studs.
Whether you need a floating bookshelf to store your best reads and vinyl record collection, or floating shelves for any room in your home, you've got the tips to choose the best floating shelves to express your style.