Floating Shelves: Where & How to Use Them

There’s a certain lightness and simplicity inherent in floating shelves, which is why we love to incorporate them into our designs. By nature, they help to open up a space visually, and when used in collaboration with other intentionally-placed elements, they can serve as focal pieces with highly-functional and space-saving uses. Whether added to a kitchen, bathroom, office, or bedroom, floating shelves are a design staple that can help to transform your space into that relaxing and organized getaway you crave.


Tip #1: Use Floating Shelves as a Focal Piece

Floating shelves serve as the perfect opportunity to create visual interest within a space. Not only do they keep lines of sight open (e.g. in order to view an adjoining room or an outdoor space), but they can also add architectural contrast within a room. In fact, they are particularly striking when mixed & matched with different cabinetry because they help to provide a feeling of a curated collection rather than an all-around streamlined look.

 

In our Midcentury Revitalization design, we used floating shelves suspended from the ceiling and brick wall by warm brass rods to create a visually open focal point. The brass also helps to connect with other warm metallic tones throughout the kitchen. / Design by    Vela Creative

In our Midcentury Revitalization design, we used floating shelves suspended from the ceiling and brick wall by warm brass rods to create a visually open focal point. The brass also helps to connect with other warm metallic tones throughout the kitchen. / Design by Vela Creative

This kitchen’s floating shelves above the island gives dimension to the space while keeping a feeling of openness in tact. It connects the wooden bases of the cabinets, while still contrasting with the upper white cabinet doors. /    Source

This kitchen’s floating shelves above the island gives dimension to the space while keeping a feeling of openness in tact. It connects the wooden bases of the cabinets, while still contrasting with the upper white cabinet doors. / Source

Our Modern Purview design used floating shelves over the kitchen windows to allow more natural light in the kitchen while still providing ample space to store and showcase dishware. The shelves pair perfectly in contrast with the sleek white cabinetry and wood-paneled exhaust hood. / Design by    Vela Creative

Our Modern Purview design used floating shelves over the kitchen windows to allow more natural light in the kitchen while still providing ample space to store and showcase dishware. The shelves pair perfectly in contrast with the sleek white cabinetry and wood-paneled exhaust hood. / Design by Vela Creative


Tip #2: Display Only Select Items

Unlike cabinets with doors, where you can stash a wide variety of odds and ends, your floating shelf space should be reserved for only curated items. After all, these shelves are meant to be an ongoing display, so you’ll want to make them as visually pleasing as possible. Perhaps you love a certain cookbook or want to showcase a few potted herbs. Or maybe your collection of dinnerware deserves a spotlight within your kitchen. Whatever your preference, just be sure to think strategically about how that shelf works with the rest of the space and decorate accordingly.

 
In our Modern Purview design, we showcased a minimalist collection of sleek black dishware (which helps to connect the stovetop on the lower plane) and select cookbooks, olive oil, and herbs. The result is a simple, yet stunning, visual display which manages to both add to the space, and blend in seamlessly with its other elements. / Design by    Vela Creative

In our Modern Purview design, we showcased a minimalist collection of sleek black dishware (which helps to connect the stovetop on the lower plane) and select cookbooks, olive oil, and herbs. The result is a simple, yet stunning, visual display which manages to both add to the space, and blend in seamlessly with its other elements. / Design by Vela Creative

 
 
The floating shelf in this kitchen displays a collection of colorful vases intended to draw out and complement the color scheme within the room. /    Source

The floating shelf in this kitchen displays a collection of colorful vases intended to draw out and complement the color scheme within the room. / Source

 
These standing floating shelves in our Modern Sophisticate design work to showcase a curated collection of sculptural items, connecting the geometric elements of the space and giving a metallic flair to the whitewashed space. / Design by    Vela Creative

These standing floating shelves in our Modern Sophisticate design work to showcase a curated collection of sculptural items, connecting the geometric elements of the space and giving a metallic flair to the whitewashed space. / Design by Vela Creative


Tip #3: Take Advantage of Function

Floating shelves act as excellent space savers and are incredibly functional. While they should still display only visually appealing items, there’s no reason they can’t also work for your everyday needs. In a bathroom, for instance, floating shelves are the perfect alternative to vast countertop space or deep medicine cabinets; you can stylishly display hand soaps, a vase of flowers, or a scented candle to give the room instant spa-like qualities. Or consider ways to save floor space by using a floating shelf as a bedroom nightstand or transforming a shallow hall closet into an office space.

This bedroom uses low floating shelves as nightstands, keeping the overall look minimal and sleek, and providing a sense of airiness to the room. /    Source

This bedroom uses low floating shelves as nightstands, keeping the overall look minimal and sleek, and providing a sense of airiness to the room. / Source

A simple wood floating shelf in this dark-toned bathroom adds an element of calm and relaxation, warming up the space and providing an area to store beautiful hand soaps. /    Source

A simple wood floating shelf in this dark-toned bathroom adds an element of calm and relaxation, warming up the space and providing an area to store beautiful hand soaps. / Source

A hallway closet space is transformed into a hidden office nook with a floating desk and floating shelves. A sliding barn door helps to tuck paperwork out of sight when needed. /    Source

A hallway closet space is transformed into a hidden office nook with a floating desk and floating shelves. A sliding barn door helps to tuck paperwork out of sight when needed. / Source


Adding a floating shelf to a room instantly helps to promote openness and simplicity, and whether your style gravitates more towards modern or midcentury, incorporating these shelves can go a long way towards making your space feel like home. It’s truly well-designed living at its finest.

 

By Megan Johansson, Contributor to Vela Creative

Megan Johansson