Designing your home with lots of storage and shelf space from the start is probably what all of us would prefer, but of course that’s not an option if we didn’t personally help design the house before it was built.
Thankfully though, adding shelving space is one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to increase the storage areas we have in the house. The trick though, is to increase the amount of shelf and storage space we have without creating a cluttered, messy look. Shelves should help us organize and display our treasures, leave room for future things we might want to display, and still stay both functional and attractive looking all at the same time.
Shelving units tend to fall into two broad types: Fixed units which usually includes built in or wall mounted shelves, and freestanding shelves which can be moved around like the rest of your furniture.
Both types of shelves have their pros and cons.
A built in shelf unit will take up space in your home permanently – unless of course you embark on a major renovation project. Because it will always be in that one spot though, you need to choose the location of your built in or wall mounted shelves very carefully.
Will the location of your built in shelves create limitations in how you’re able to rearrange the furniture in the room? Will it be an eyesore if the built in shelves get cluttered or dusty? What else can that space be used for if you choose not to put built in shelves there?
On the upside, built in or wall mounted shelves are excellent choices for under utilized space in your home. If you have a small alcove under the stairs for instance, it may not be large enough to put in a coat closet or even a reading chair. But a small set of shallow shelves might be just the thing for putting favorite books, trinkets, or collectibles on.
A freestanding or movable shelf unit can be much more versatile, and this is especially enjoyable if you like to move the furniture around regularly. Freestanding units can be dangerous if they’re large though – especially if they have heavy glassware or books on them.
On the downside, freestanding shelves can make the room look cluttered if you have many of them scattered around one room.
The best course of action is to decide what you want your shelves to do for you first. Will they hold books? Plants? Collectibles? A DVD collection? Will the shelves need to be able to handle a lot of weight? Will they need to be deep so that you’re able to place bulky or large objects on them?
Do you want shelves that are attractive and can fit in well with your home’s design style, or do you just need something functional?
Think too about your everyday household and it’s activities. Do you have children or pets? Do you like to rearrange your furniture regularly?
Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide between built in shelves, free standing pieces of furniture, or wall mounted and similar shelf options.
©2008, Kathy Burns-Millyard