15 Stylish Floating Shelf Ideas for Displaying Art and Accessories

reclaimed wooden shelf mantle
Photo: Edmund Barr

Floating shelves, installed with concealed brackets, update underused walls with streamlined storage and display space. Hang them in kitchens, bedrooms, and living areas to stow necessities or exhibit favorite finds and artwork. Use these ideas to create stylish and practical displays.

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How to Hang Floating Shelves

kitchen with blue base cabinets and white shelves over sink
Dane Tashima

Floating shelves provide storage and display space without cumbersome brackets or braces that might distract from the view. To install them correctly, you'll first need to attach a hidden bracket to the wall, then slide the shelf onto the bracket and secure it with screws. So the shelves remain secure, it's best to mount them on wall studs.

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Ideas for Floating Shelves

Piano with shelf filled with frames, artwork, and photos
Ann VanderWiel Wilde

Floating shelves offer plenty of options for accessorizing. They can stand alone, in a group, or in a stacked arrangement. However you hang them, they offer space to display more items and the ability to easily switch out artwork and decor. For a narrower version of floating shelves, try picture ledges, which feature a small raised lip at the front that prevents artwork from sliding off.

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Floating Kitchen Shelves

gray kitchen with tile and white open shelving
Greg Scheidemann

Not only do floating shelves allow you to supplement kitchen storage, they let you place things exactly where they're needed most. In this breakfast area, open shelves provide grab-and-go storage for everyday dishware. Coffee mugs, cereal bowls, and small plates remain at the ready for quick breakfasts.

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Floating Shelves in Bedrooms

Bedroom with wicker basket and light on wall
Marty Baldwin

In bedrooms, floating shelves let you store necessities close at hand while preventing other surfaces, like nightstands and dressers, from becoming cluttered. They can be particularly helpful in small bedrooms where storage space is limited. For a streamlined look in a tight spot, you can even hang the shelves in place of a traditional nightstand.

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Bathroom Floating Shelves

bathroom shelves
Adam Albright

Bathrooms often lack the space required for standalone shelving units and other storage furniture. Floating shelves provide a smart alternative that boosts bathroom storage and doesn't require floor space. To provide space for practical items, from cosmetic brushes to towels, or for art and decorative accessories, hang open shelves in the empty wall space above the toilet or near the vanity.

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Recessed Floating Shelves

modern floating shelves by fireplace
Kritsada Panichgul

Create the look of built-in bookcases by equipping alcoves, niches, and bays with floating shelves that span the recess. Consider proportion when selecting your shelves. Large and deep recesses call for thick shelves, while slimmer wood, metal, or glass shelves are best for shallow, narrow niches.

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Floating Storage Shelves

White brick shelf desk books
James Nathan Schroder

Properly placed floating shelves make life easier in nearly any room. Set them within arm's reach of a desk chair or locate them so they can be accessed by someone in a standing position. Unlike storage cabinets or very deep shelves, which can become a muddled mess when items in the forefront hide items in the back, floating shelves allow you to immediately see and access what you need.

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Where to Hang Floating Shelves

reclaimed wooden shelf mantle
Edmund Barr

Hang floating shelves at various heights to carry attention from floor to ceiling and around a room. Here, simple shelves subtly mimic the mantel beam's line and shape, while beautifully filling the empty space below. An eclectic display of collectibles and abstract artwork gives the shelves personality.

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Hallway Floating Shelves Ideas

white hallway shelf
John Bessler

Use floating shelves to give hallways something worth observing. Hang a long shelf deep enough to hold propped-up family photos and colorful artwork, but shallow enough that it won't intrude too far into the passageway. Narrow shelves are less likely to be bumped into. Look for ledge-like shelves that feature routed grooves designed for keeping propped items steady and in place.

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Floating Pantry Shelves

Beyond mere display, floating shelves have a practical application. They can work well for pantry storage, and to keep items accessible and in view. Watch to learn tips on how to organize your pantry with open shelving.

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Floating Shelves for Office Storage

functional office space shelving
Dana Gallagher

Move in a sturdy desk and a cushy chair, and you've got the makings of a functioning office. But hang some floating shelves and your operations are sure to run more efficiently. At this artist's workstation, open shelves hold books, artworks, and other items meant to inspire creativity. To boost organization, outfit the shelves with baskets and organizers to hold office supplies and paperwork.

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Floating Shelves Across Windows

window shelving in kitchen
Stacey Branford

Stretch your storage and display abilities by outfitting a kitchen window's upper reaches with a pair of floating shelves. Paint or finish them to match the adjacent cabinets, so they recede, letting your backlit displays take center stage. Use the shelves to hold decorative items, or, to free up cabinet space, to hold frequently used dishware.

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Floating Shelves Media Center

media center shelving
Emily Followill

Use floating shelves to form a media center that's customized to your entertainment needs and equipment. First, make a list of the things you want to display and store on the shelves. Measure the height and depth of all the objects, so you can select the proper size shelves and space them accordingly. Use weight-appropriate wall anchors, so they won't tumble and destroy expensive gear.

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Floating Corner Shelves

corner kitchen shelving
Emily Followill

Wrap a kitchen corner with floating shelves to take advantage of the empty space for storage. Unlike solid-door cabinets, the open shelves keep kitchens from feeling top-heavy, while still supplying generous storage for pantry staples and dishware. Take it up a notch by choosing shelves with beveled edges, decorative details, or crown-molding forms.

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Kitchen Storage Shelves

wooden open kitchen shelves
Edward Gohlich

Floating shelves are ideally suited for showing off pantry staples and kitchen decor. Use them to stash pretty glass jars filled with spices, rice, flour, sugar, coffee beans, and tea bags. Incorporate kitchen-related artwork, cookbooks, and pretty dishes to create displays that are both stylish and functional.

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