How to choose the perfect shelf

12 Minute Read

Choosing a shelf is one of those things that seems simple on the face of it, but when you get into it, there are more options than you might have first thought. Just as with furniture, there’s a lot more to be considered than simply whether you like it or not. While shelves can be used in every room in the home, ‘one size’ definitely doesn’t fit all, and so in this post we’ve rounded up some of the key things to think about before you make your decision as to which is the perfect shelf for that particular room.  

How Can I Create a Rustic Country Bedroom?
How Can I Create a Rustic Country Bedroom?

Consider why you are putting the shelf up

People add shelves to their rooms for two main reasons – storage, decoration, or sometimes both. If you’re adding shelves purely for wall decoration, then you can focus on the aesthetic of the shelf and what look you want to achieve. Should the shelf provide a feeling of order? How should it tie in with the rest of the room? Will it hold beautiful house plants, or artwork? Do the contents of the shelf work together to create an overall look?

Where the shelf is to be used purely as storage, you’ll still want the shelf to look great, so find items to hold what is being stored – baskets, wooden crates, or deep dishes, for example. This will help conceal what you’re storing on there, which will keep the shelf, and therefore the room, from looking cluttered. 

Know how much the shelf will need to hold 

When you’re deciding which shelf is right for the situation, one of the things you’ll need to consider is the weight that will be on it. If you’re displaying a few light ornaments in a bedroom, then a manufactured floating shelf may be adequate for your needs, but if the shelf is to hold heavy books, or sculptural artwork, then you’ll need something a bit more hard-wearing.

Be certain to check the maximum weight limit of any shelf before you make your purchase – you don’t want to find precious items on the floor because the shelf you chose wasn’t up to the job. All of our solid wooden shelves can hold up to 35kg, which is plenty of books! 

Rustic Country Bedroom Decor
Rustic Country Bedroom Decor

Which room is the shelf going in?

Shelves can add to every room in the home – even if they are purely decorative. Take these examples:

Bathroom: Storage for beauty products, loo rolls, feminine items, and cleaning products – use baskets to hide items you don’t want on display!

Kitchen: Clear your surfaces! Put your mugs, tea caddies, and appliances that you don’t use all that often up on shelves alongside your cook books – easy to reach, but out of the way.

Bedroom: Display gorgeous artwork, store extra pillows and blankets, or decorate your shelf to enhance the décor of the room.

Hallway: For storing winter accessories like gloves and scarves, holding scent diffusers, and key bowls.

When you’re choosing shelves, you can get an exact match with your existing furniture – especially when you’re buying solid wooden shelves to order – or you can choose to contrast. If you’re buying shelves from us, you have a choice of eight colours for the wax finish, from the pale whitewash of shabby chic, right through to our darkest shade of walnut.

After you’ve decided on the colour of your shelf, you need to think about fixings. If your décor leans towards minimalist, then a floating shelf is likely to be on your list to consider – with no brackets on display, floating shelves offer clean lines that allow whatever is on your shelf to take centre stage. For rooms that are more industrial, embrace the shelf bracket! Raw steel looks beautifully rugged, and can suit a range of décor styles. 

Decide what material will work best for your shelf

You can probably already guess the material that we’d choose for our shelves – solid wood! We wrote a whole post detailing why wooden shelves are a better option in the long term, and if you’re here and aren’t yet convinced why you should choose wooden shelves, then head to that post now. If you’re going to be putting heavier items on your shelf, then solid wood is likely to be best, with a decent fixing that has been tested for the weight that you want to put on there.

While we’ll encourage you to consider wooden shelves for their longevity and the gorgeous appeal they have, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that solid wood isn’t the only material that will work for shelves. In some cases, it won’t be the right look for the space. If you’re looking for something a little more delicate and decorative, then a glass shelf might be the right option, while if you need a resilient shelf that will stand up to a humid, or cold and damp environment, then a metal shelf could be right for the space. 

Choosing the perfect shelf

Ultimately, although we can help you with what to consider, the decision is yours. You probably already know what sort of shelf you want to buy for the space, but as long as the shelf is up to holding the weight of what you want to put on it, and you have considered the way you want the shelf to look, then it is simply what you consider to be the perfect shelf for you. 

Final Thoughts

When you’re considering buying a shelf, we love the phrase ‘buy nice, or buy twice’. Buying quality will always serve you better in the long run, and so when you’re choosing furniture (including shelves!) for your home, make sure to do your research carefully, and make sure you’re getting the right option before you make your purchase.

Once you’ve made your decision and decorated your shelf, don’t forget to tag us in your #shelfie – we love seeing how you’ve styled your shelves! You can tag us @bensimpsonfurniture and we’ll share the love for your shelves with our followers too. 

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