Inspiring Design And Decor Ideas With Floating Shelves

A lot of different problems can be solved by adding a floating shelf to space. It’s such a versatile and accessible resource and it’s no wonder there are so many different types of shelves and so many different ways to use them. Every room of the house could potentially benefit from having a floating shelf or two added to it so the question remains how you’re going to make it work and be both practical and good-looking at the same time. As always, we have a few ideas that might help. 

Add layers and texture to the design 

Add layers and texture to the design View in gallery

This looks like such a welcoming and cozy space and the secret to that is the wonderful balance between all the different textures and the neutral colors that were used throughout its design. The walls have a very subtle beige color and the floating shelf introduces the retro charm of reclaimed wood which is paired with all the stylish accent pillows on the sofa. The metal floor lamp in the corner and the different-shaped mirrors on the shelf help to bring it all together. Check out @briehadj on instagram for more lovely ideas. 

Related: 60 Ways To Make DIY Shelves A Part Of Your Home’s Décor

Hide the hardware

Hide the hardwareView in gallery

We don’t call these floating shelves for anything. The hardware that was used to hang them up on the wall is completely invisible, cleverly concealed within the shelves themselves. Furthermore, the shelves are white just like the wall behind them which helps them to blend and disappear into the background. That it turn puts the focus on the items that are placed on top of the shelves which in this case introduce a lovely array of pastels into the decor. Follow @smallcdesign_ for more inspiring design suggestions.

Use live edge wood

Use live edge woodView in gallery

Live edge wood is always amazing and can be used in a lot of cool and interesting ways throughout one’s interior design. Live edge shelves provide us with one of the easiest ways to take advantage of this material’s natural and unique beauty. Install a couple of them in the kitchen to add some warmth, texture and style to the room and to keep the design practical at the same time. Here’s a design suggestion from @timholland_heartofthemarket that we think could look really nice in a variety of other contexts. 

Try combinations of different materials

Try combinations of different materialsView in gallery

Floating shelves don’t always have to be made from a single type of material. Wood is the most common option but it can be mixed with metal to create a modern-industrial look that stands out. These particular ones shared by @maryslittlemart are great for the kitchen because they have that built-in towel holder but if you remove it the design is really versatile and can look amazing in every room of the house. 

Keep it simple

Keep it simpleView in gallery

Sometimes the simplest designs are the best ones and it’s no point overcomplicating a design. Take this floating shelf for example. It has a super simple look, linear and flat and it’s made out of wood, the most common material. Still, it suits this bathroom perfectly. It would also look lovely in other areas like the laundry room, kitchen, living room or bedroom. Check out @kaidandesigns for more stylish ideas. 

Change up the decor on a special occasion

Change up the decor on a special occasionView in gallery

Floating shelves provide you with the perfect setup for creating custom and themed displays for various occasions like Halloween or Christmas. Come up with a special design and redecorate them every once in a while to make the whole house look fresh and festive. You can also have different things displayed on your shelf each season, like fresh flowers for spring, pinecones and mini pumpkins for autumn and so on. Check out this cute display by if you want some inspiration. 

Add some accent lighting

Add some accent lightingView in gallery

Consider installing a wall sconce above your floating shelves as a way to highlight them and to put an emphasis on the items that they hold. This could look really cool if you have some cool collectibles or handmade decorations that you want to display in a more prominent way. At the same time, the sconce could also serve as task/ accent lighting for the rest of the room. Here it’s actually positioned above the kitchen counter which works out great. This is a design shared by @ourmodernbrick.

Try corner shelves

Kitchen Try corner shelvesView in gallery

Floating shelves are excellent for corner spaces because they’re one of the few things that can fit in here and actually put these areas to good use. Corners are difficult to furnish and to decorate but you can always rely on shelves to be of help. Also, corner shelves are super practical in kitchens, bathrooms and small spaces in general. Here they add some extra storage for things like dishes, kitchen utensils and a few other items small enough to fit on them. Check out @hovrsolutions for more details. 

Fit them in tight spaces

Fit them in tight spacesView in gallery

You can also rely on shelves to fit in spaces that are too small, too narrow or too tight for anything else like a cabinet or an appliance. That can typically he helpful in kitchens or bathrooms but is not strictly limited to these sort of areas. In this design shared by @dawningramdesign the shelf fills the gap and helps to balance out this area by also adding convenient storage above the backsplash. 

Use them to frame a focal point

Living room with floating shelvesView in gallery

Floating shelves can be used as decorative elements if you want to fill an empty wall or to frame a focal point like the TV in the living room but you’d rather not add more bulky furniture. The shelves keep the room simple and airy and they break the monotony of the decor at the same time. This is a really nice use for them in a living room designed by studio 41 West

Let them stand out 

White kitchen with black handle and floating shelvesView in gallery

The shelves themselves can be allowed to stand out and to become an eye-catching decor detail. Instead of trying to make them blend in with the wall behind them in order to highlight the items on display you can opt for shelves that contrast with the wall. That way even when they’re empty they attract attention. This is also a nice way to introduce a new accent color or material into a room. This is a remodel by Legacy Kitchens

Add built-in lighting

Floating shelves around TBView in gallery

Another cool idea is to have built-in lighting added to the shelves. There are many types of lighting that can be incorporated in this way, including LED bands which are easy to install even after you’ve placed the shelves on the wall. The lighting is added to the underside of the shelves and illuminates the area below which can contain another shelf or can feature a painting. This can also help to bring out the color of the wall. Check out this living room by An Interior Motive Designs as reference. 

Small shelves for small spaces

Modern kitchen with floating shelvesView in gallery

Of course, the size of the shelves and everything else about them should be chosen in accordance with the proportions of the room, its style and the context around them. A small space like this area between the cabinet and the window for example, is perfect for a couple of small floating shelves. They fit nicely in here without encroaching on the window. It’s a really nice and balanced design by Casa V Interiors

Asymmetrical placement

Fill an empty wall with floating shelvesView in gallery

Behave a tendency to look for symmetry when designing spaces and in some cases that can have a beneficial effect but other times it can make the room feel a bit too mainstream and boring. With that in mind, asymmetrical placement of the shelves can end up looking more modern and interesting and can be a simple way to make a particular area of the room look interesting. 

Simple with a twist

Decorate a living room with floating shelvesView in gallery

Floating shelves can be very simple and very slender as well which allows them to easily blend in with the decor around them. However, they can be simple and stand out at the same time and that can be achieved in a variety of different ways. One option is to add lighting to the underside of the shelves, as shown in this living room by Apollo Builders. You can also highlight a shelf through the items that you put on it. 

Put shelves in odd places

Modern staircase with floating shelves aroundView in gallery

What we mean here is that you can put shelves in areas that would normally be left empty and wouldn’t really serve a purpose, like the space underneath a staircase for instance. The versatility of shelves allows them to actually put this area to good use. You could even put a desk under the stairs with a few shelves around it and make this into a tiny office for yourself or you can add a chair make a reading nook. Here’s an inspiring setup by Zephyr Interiors that could give you some ideas. 

Add character to the bathroom

Blue wallpaper bathroom and floating shelvesView in gallery

The bathroom is one of the areas where you don’t really have a lot of freedom to add many decorative elements because the space is usually small and the focus has to be on functionality. Floating shelves are one of the few elements that can be both practical and can serve as decorations at the same time. Use them to add more character to this space and make it feel more inviting. This is a lovely example by Hart Wright Architects