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10 Types of Shelves To Organize Your Home

Get organized, display your favorite things and keep clutter at bay with these different styles of shelving.

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Kitchen Shelves With Ceramic Utensils, Fresh Flowers And Ceramic Figures Of Mushrooms And BeetlesElena Grigorovich/Getty Images

Floating Shelves

Floating shelves are extremely popular, and for plenty of good reasons. They don’t take up a lot of real estate, so they work in small and oddly proportioned spaces. They display your favorite items beautifully. And they’re generally easy to install and maintain.

A recent trend involves replacing upper cabinets in kitchens with open shelving — perfect if you have a beautiful set of pots and pans, pottery or china to display. This style of shelving means stored items can get dusty and potentially grimy from cooking and other messy kitchen tasks. Floating shelves also work well in a bedroom or living room.

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Fixed-Bracket Shelves

Fixed-bracket shelves look like floating shelves, with one key difference: The brackets supporting the shelf are visible. These brackets can be beautiful and decorative, or merely functional.

You may pay more for ornately designs and high-quality materials, but that cost can be worth the decor boost. These shelves can be used in almost any room of the home. They’re usually chosen to display people’s favorite items unencumbered.

Adjustable Slotted kitchen Shelvesmixetto/Getty Images

Adjustable Slotted Shelves

Adjustable slotted shelves can be freestanding (almost more like pallet racking) or wall-mounted.

Wall-mounted adjustable slotted shelves are a common option when people want to fill a wall with open shelving, but don’t want to pay up for built-in shelves or full bookcases. These shelves work well for interiors or in garages, as some are made for heavier-duty use.

Metal stripping attaches vertically to the wall, with slots to anchor the shelves. That lets you position each shelf at the height and spacing you need, whether you’re storing tall sculptures or short stacks of paperbacks. It’s easy to re-size at any point as your collections change.

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Built-in Shelves

Built-in shelves are essentially bookcases recessed into a wall. Historically, built-in shelves were often found alcoves or nooks. These days they’re much more common in new homes or retrofitted into older ones, like this traditional unit.

Built-ins have a great cozy quality, organizing clutter while preserving floor space.

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Ceiling-Mounted Shelves

Ceiling-mounted shelving can be a great option when you need to save wall space, or don’t have much to begin with. They’re really versatile. Hang one over a kitchen island as a rack for pots and pans. Some are made with a hang bar for closets. They also work in garages for storing seasonal or outdoor gear up and out of the way.

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Pullout shelves

Pullout shelves, almost like a shallow drawer, are most often found in pantries. Usually included with other types of shelving or cabinetry, pullout shelves function as the name implies: They pull away from the wall on a glider so you can more easily access the items contained. Build these to fit your space, or purchase and install ready-made shelves.

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Box or Cube Shelves

Box or cube shelves are a twist on a floating shelf, just in a square, rectangular or intersecting geometric form. They’re great for displaying a knick knack or two, almost like a shadowbox.

slanted bookshelf in a modern roomKatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Leaning Shelves

Leaning shelves can slim a room’s profile, saving you space while still storing or display your stuff. They can also be a much more affordable alternative to other similarly-sized shelving. Leaning shelves come in various sizes to accommodate lots of rooms. While some assembly may be required, installation is a snap.

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Tension Rod Shelving

If you’re looking to put up a stack or wall of shelving without doing much drilling, a tension rod shelf might be your best bet. Rods extend from floor to ceiling tightly to form the frame of the shelves. They’re affordable, great as temporary solutions, and work well in small spaces and rentals. No filling holes in the wall before you move.

Vinyl records decorations on a gray wall with molding and wooden furniture in a retro home office interior for a writer. Real photo.KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty Images

Freestanding Shelving

Freestanding shelves are the most obvious and classic type of shelving. They come in a nearly limitless variety of styles, materials, colors, sizes and shapes, from a simple wooden bookcase to a chrome wire freestanding shelf. Some setup may be required, but any “installation” should be mainly assembly.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.