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13 Creative Ways to Use Floating Wall Shelves in Your Home

Wednesday April 22nd, 2020
Floating wall shelving brings a stylish finish to just about any room in your home while doubling as storage space for decor or everyday items. Floating wood shelves maximize the space in your home without sacrificing your room design with unsightly brackets and screws.

13 Creative Ways to Use Floating Wall Shelves in Your Home

  • Kitchen Ledge
  • Fireplace Mantel
  • Bookshelves
  • Media Management
  • Toy Organization
  • Nightstand
  • Home Decor
  • Bar Area
  • Garage Shelving
  • Bathroom Toiletry Stash
  • Corner Space
  • Nursery Storage
  • Small Space Solutions
It’s not uncommon for furniture to contribute a feeling of clutter to your living room, bathroom, or kitchen while the walls go bare. Adding some floating shelving units maximizes the vertical wall space you have in your home, giving you more room for storage and less clutter on your floor. Floating shelves are easy to install on most walls using pre-drilled holes, screws, and wall anchors, leaving all hardware hidden behind the shelving.

Floating shelving units are available in a range of finishes to match the design of your rooms. White floating shelves pop against almost any paint color, creating an eye-catching focal point to bring your room to life.
Some people prefer a more rustic look with stained wood shelves, while stainless steel shelves work well with industrial decor. Whatever design you prefer, there’s a set of shelves that can offer a convenient decorative or storage solution for each room in your home.

13 Creative Ways to Use Floating Wall Shelves in Your Home

Whether your style is shabby chic or ultra-modern, floating shelves can make the perfect addition to your space.

Kitchen Ledge

Extended floating shelves can be just what you need to make your kitchen more functional, whether you have limited space for cabinets or just want to maximize empty walls. A popular way to hang floating shelves in the kitchen is between cabinets over a countertop to make the empty space functional and keep kitchen items within reach. Shelving units in the kitchen make it easy to store items you don’t mind displaying, like your favorite set of dishes or mugs. Floating shelves also make the kitchen easier to clean since there are no feet to navigate around when sweeping or mopping.

Fireplace Mantel

Fireplace mantels add a touch of elegance to your fireplace while allowing you to store decor like family photos, plants, or candles. A floating shelf makes for an excellent addition to a drab fireplace when you use it as a mantel.
Grab the proper mounting hardware (you’ll need drill bits designed for masonry) and attach your shelf above the fireplace door. A rustic wood shelf with a deep stain against a bright white fireplace surround is one way to make your fireplace more modern while maintaining a homey atmosphere.


If you don’t have the space for a wall-to-wall bookshelf but love the idea of having a library-esque vibe in your home, you can use floating shelves to create bookshelves. A floating bookshelf won’t take up needed floor space, and you can let your wall colors peek through as you display your collection. This idea works exceptionally well in smaller rooms where a large bookcase can overpower the space easily.

Media Management

Clutter can appear quickly in a living room or media room with gaming systems, DVD or Blu-Ray players, stereo equipment, and more. You can use cord covers to keep power cords tidy, but it’s challenging to cover up games, records, and electronics.
A set of shelves placed near your media area can curb the chaos by giving everything a set space with easy access. You can even get crafty and create your own custom floating media console with concealed areas to hide some of the clutter.

Toy Organization

Do you have toys overflowing toy chests in the play area or a child’s bedroom? Decorative wall shelves not only give toys a designated space, but they also offer a fun way for children to display their favorite objects.
Especially in a small room, floating shelves take advantage of walls that usually remain empty without taking away from valuable floor space for playing. Use floating shelving units to make a home for stuffed animals, toy cars, dolls, action figures, or books in a child’s room to make more space for playing without the mess.


Not all bedrooms offer enough space for a queen or king-size bed plus nightstands that fit comfortably on both sides. If you’re dealing with a smaller space, you can still create nighttime storage with floating shelves in place of nightstands. Position them on the walls on either side of the bed at the right height to give you access to lamps, books, drinks, etc.

Home Decor

Display: One of the most popular purposes for floating shelves is for displaying home decor items. Because floating shelves come in such a wide range of sizes, it’s possible to buy several small shelves to stagger on an empty wall for miscellaneous decor items, creating a beautiful focal point for a room.

When it comes to displaying decor, you can get as creative as you want. Try a set of honeycomb-shaped floating shelves, zigzag shelves, or overlapping square shelves to house small pieces.

Use your shelving units as a picture ledge to display your family’s photos or artwork. All you need are a few floating shelves and some picture frames to decorate and display your photos in a common area of the home, like the living room or a hallway.

Statement Pieces: Are you looking for ways to pull your style together in a room? Perhaps you’re shooting for an industrial look, but you’re not sure how to get more of that style into your space. A few floating shelves can be the statement pieces you need to tie everything together.

Think of how you can use your shelving units to bring fresh style into your space, like weathered pieces against white walls for a shabby chic style or thick oak shelving above a stone fireplace for a modern rustic vibe.

Pop of Color: If you want to experiment with color in a room without going overboard, there’s no better way to do it than with a few decorative wall shelves. Wall shelves come in several colors, but you can also paint them to match a specific color you want. Check the material before you purchase to make sure it’s one that’s paintable.

Try drawing the color from something else in the room, like a piece of artwork or a blanket, to tie everything together.

Create a Bar Area

A small bar area in a kitchen, dining room, or living space doesn’t need to take up much room. Use floating shelves to define the area and store your bottles, glasses, and mixing utensils in one area, or turn it into a coffee station with mugs, a coffee maker, and single-use coffee packs.

If you have room for a small sink, you can hang floating shelves above it to form a wet bar without taking space away from a little kitchen or dining area.

Garage Shelving

Who says your garage shelving has to be boring? Floating shelves can make the space much more appealing while giving you a place to store oddball items, like outdoor play toys, car cleaning supplies, and gardening tools. They’re also exceptional storage spots for tools. Hang them at eye level for an easy-to-see, easy-to-grab storage and organization solution.

Bathroom Toiletry Stash

The bathroom is one spot in the home where clutter can run rampant quickly. From hair ties to toothbrushes and toothpaste, it doesn’t take long for small items to take over the bathroom.

Floating shelves sized for your bathroom walls can keep miscellaneous items from taking up space on your sink or countertops. They’re especially useful in small bathrooms where floor space and storage is an issue. Keep them decorative by placing small items, like cotton swabs and floss containers, in glass jars on the shelves along with other small decor pieces.

Optimize Corner Space

Shelves that float on your walls can even be the perfect way to make use of an empty corner of a room to make the most of your wall space. Corner shelving units can stack over each other to give you a few extra square feet of storage or decor display.
You can find floating corner shelves in triangle shapes or angled to form an L-shaped shelving unit. Or, use two straight shelves and install them flush against each other on connecting walls to form the angle yourself.

Nursery Storage

Need some more storage in the nursery for stuffed animals, toys, and books? A wall of floating shelves can be the best way to achieve it. A shelf installed over your baby’s changing table can also add a convenient storage area for changing supplies, like baby wipes, baby powder, diapers, and clothing. A floating shelf makes it easy to put everything near to hand. A traditional standing shelf would not be as convenient.

Small Space Solutions

Laundry: The laundry room is easily one of the most popular places for wall shelving because it’s usually a smaller space without much room for storage. Pair reclaimed wood shelves with woven baskets that sit on each ledge for a homey, uncluttered look.

Use the shelves to house laundry detergent, fabric softener, and bleach, while the baskets can hold smaller items like dryer sheets and stain removers. Add a few pieces of artwork or other decorations to add some appeal to your laundry area.

Entryway or Mudroom: Keep the mess of the mudroom or entryway off the floor with floating units of shelves that can hold everything from shoes to school notebooks. Install a shelf or two above a few knobs or pegs to hang jackets, backpacks, and purses.

Hallway: If you’re low on closet space in your bedrooms, the hallway probably becomes the next best storage solution. But crowding a hallway with organizing units not only makes it feel cluttered and cramped, but it could also make the high-travel area unsafe.
Instead, you might consider hanging a few floating shelves along the walls for extra towels, jackets, or blankets that won’t fit in your closets. They also look beautiful when decorated with family photographs, plants, and other decor items that add some appeal to bare walls.

Floating Wall Shelves FAQ

Are you unsure if floating shelving is the right choice for your home? Read through our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more about how to install them and how they work:

How do I hang floating wall shelves?

Hanging floating wall shelves looks complicated at first. However, once you complete your first set, you’ll find that it takes just a little extra time to do than hanging regular shelves, but the process itself is relatively easy. Floating wood shelves don’t have typical shelf brackets like regular shelves. Instead, they have a hidden bracket piece that attaches to the wall, known as a cleat, with circular rods that slide into the shelf piece with pre-drilled holes.

To hang the wall mounted cleat, you’ll need to find at least two studs on which to attach the screws for the cleat. If you have a wall material like plaster that makes it challenging to find studs, you can drill screws into wall anchors instead. Shelves that you purchase should already have the rods and their holes ready for assembly. After mounting the cleat to the wall, you’ll slide the shelf piece onto it and its rods, ensuring that the holes on the shelf line up with the rods.

Where can I buy floating wall shelves?

Online stores are perfect spots to find floating wall shelving for your bedroom, living room, or another space. You’ll find several options at Rustica. Shopping online lets you sort through various styles to help you pinpoint what you think will look best in your home.
You can also shop for a custom set of shelves on Etsy or other websites that allow people to sell their own creations. It can be a good option for you if you’re looking for truly unique shelving you can’t find in stores.

Additionally, floating wall shelves are available in most furniture, home improvement, and department stores, as well as general merchandise stores that sell home goods. It’s also not uncommon to find them in less obvious places, like thrift shops, antique stores, and craft stores. The options tend to be much more limited in brick-and-mortar businesses, though.

What are the best floating shelves?

The best floating shelves for you depends on your needs for the shelving, the weight capacity you need, the style you’re looking for, and the ease of installation. Therefore, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to floating shelving units.
However, there are a few points to consider when searching for the best floating shelves for your space:

Where will you hang your shelves?

White floating shelves might look beautiful in the kitchen, but if they’re too close to where you prepare food, they could become stained and difficult to clean.

How much weight do you need them to hold? 

A few decor items won’t make a difference, but if you’re looking to hold a TV, kitchen appliances, or other bulky items, you may need the support of a heavy-duty shelf made of wood or steel.

How much space do you have for your shelves? 

Floating wall shelves come in several lengths and depths, so be sure to pre-measure your area to get what you know will fit.

How complicated are they to install?

Some shelving units will be more time-consuming and challenging to hang, especially if you’re working solo. It’s a good idea to check reviews first to see how easy or complicated the installation process is.

How do I arrange floating wall shelves on a wall?

There are many ways that you can arrange your floating shelves on your wall. The best part is it’s up to you how you want to do it. There’s no right or wrong way to place these shelves, regardless of whether you’re using them for decor or storage, as long as they’re level.

One way to arrange floating shelves is to line them up vertically in line with one another. It’s a popular arrangement for kitchens, laundry rooms, or bathrooms, where wall space might be limited. It’s also a good option for people who prefer a tidier appearance.

Other people like their floating shelves to stagger diagonally or asymmetrically. These arrangements are perfect for using your shelves as a focal point in a large area with a lot of wall space, like a living room. Your shelves can break up a lot of blank wall space this way and draw the eye to a particular area of the room.

Are floating wall shelves strong?

Floating wall shelves are sturdy, but their strength depends on their material and design. Many floating shelving units come from reclaimed wood that’s incredibly strong, but you can also find durable steel shelving or lower-priced plastic shelving units that may not be as sturdy.

The strength of floating shelves mostly comes from the cleat and rods and how you install them. Cleats drilled into studs tend to hold more weight than those without studs, and those with more rods that insert into the shelf are often stronger. However, a floating shelf ledge made from thin plastic is more likely to warp or sag over time than a wood or steel shelf no matter how you install it if you put a lot of weight on it.

Do floating shelves need studs?

Floating shelves don’t necessarily need the cleat to be attached to the wall studs, but it certainly can help give them a higher weight capacity. Screwing the cleat into your wall studs ensures that your wall has an excellent grip on your shelving units to hold items with heavier weights, like laundry detergent bottles or appliances. If you plan to use your wall mounted shelves for decor only, then you’ll probably be safe not using studs.

If you can’t find your wall studs or your shelves don’t align properly with studs, you can opt for using wall anchors instead. These plastic pieces create a mount for the screw without needing a stud, so the shelf cleat can still get a firm grip on the wall. Be sure to look for wall anchors specific to your type of wall, as drywall anchors differ from anchors designed for plaster walls.

How much weight can it handle when attached to studs?

The type of wall on which you hang your floating shelves and the type of installation can affect how much weight your shelving holds. Shelving designed strictly for display shelves may hold less than other shelves with more durable cleats and rods, even when you install them on the studs.

However, floating shelves you install using the studs correctly can have a weight capacity of 50 pounds or more, depending on how many rods hold the shelves in place and how many studs into which you drill screws. A good rule of thumb is the more rods your shelf has and the more studs you use, the more weight it can hold. Deep, thick shelves should have more rods and use more cleat screws into studs than thin, narrow shelves to ensure a sturdy hold in the wall and higher weight capacity.

Boost Your Room’s Appeal and Function with decorative Floating Wall Shelves

From fireplace mantels to storage solutions for every room, floating shelves offer unique opportunities for function and decoration in your home. Because they’re generally easy to install with the right mounting hardware, you can create a new, inspired look in your home within a few minutes.

Floating shelves are also perfect for maximizing the wall space you have in your home that would typically go untouched. Whether you want to create a focal point or provide extra storage to keep clutter off the floor, a floating set of shelves takes advantage of your wall space without making it look messy. With a broad range of styles and colors to choose from, there’s a floating shelving unit for every look.
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