Top 10 Styles of Open Shelving for Maximizing Storage

Open shelves and storage solutions not only tidy up your possessions but also incorporate them into your home’s decorative scheme. Open shelves come in various styles and configurations, each offering unique advantages and aesthetic appeal. Here are ten different types of open shelves to choose from.

Designer: João Teixeira

1. Floating Shelves

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These are the most common types of open shelves that are mounted directly onto the wall to impart a floating effect as the brackets are concealed. It is best suited for modern homes and is perfect for displaying decorative items, storage containers, or toys in children’s bedrooms.

2. Wall-Mounted Shelves

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As the name suggests, these shelves are mounted on the wall supported by visible brackets and are available in multiple materials and designs.

Designer: Evan Clabots for Cozey

The Altitude Shelf, designed by Evan Clabots for Cozey, draws inspiration from Japanese and Danish woodworking traditions, boasting clean lines and a minimalist aesthetic. Easy to assemble with included hardware and a placement guide, this versatile shelf seamlessly integrates into any room, offering both functionality and style.

Designer: Markus Hofko of Von Morgen

KUR!O’s innovative shelving unit offers customizable storage solutions with its grid base and interlocking shelving plates. It has evolved into a consumer-ready product featuring durable construction and additional features like dowels for hanging items. The base grid, made from wood-fiber boards, supports powder-coated steel panels, available in various colors for structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. With a modular design and playful color scheme, KUR!O adds contemporary flair to any space.

3. Cube Shelves

Available as rectangular or square-shaped shelves, these units can be used for storage and display. They can be used as individual units or can be combined to create an interesting display.

Designers: Calvin Middel & Bencekommt

Every foyer needs a storage solution for keys, jackets, and daily essentials. Student designers Calvin and Bence crafted Bügal designed a fusion piece blending a coat rack with a shelf system. Utilizing 3D printing, they molded Bügal’s body, achieving a sleek, semi-matte silicone finish. Bügal hangs securely from a wooden peg, accommodating multiple garments and bulky items like cameras or plants. Its deep pocket provides space for keys and phones, offering practical storage without sacrificing style.

Designer: Jean Couvreur for Kabata

The Fréquence shelf by Jean Couvreur, designed for Kabata, offers a versatile storage solution for compact living spaces. It features minimalist aesthetics with clean lines and a sleek white finish. This modular shelving system allows for various configurations, serving as a bookcase, base unit, or room divider. Its geometrically shaped modules, crafted from durable aluminum, enable creative arrangements while minimizing material wastage during manufacturing. With its sturdy construction and modern design, Fréquence adds functionality and elegance to any home environment.

Designer: Deniz Aktay

Deniz Aktay’s ‘Overlap’ table is a versatile and functional piece of furniture designed for modern living spaces. It features two rotated wooden boxes ingeniously joined to create a sturdy tabletop and storage unit. This compact yet stylish design prioritizes both form and function, offering ample storage while occupying minimal space. Its geometrically intriguing form adds a touch of sophistication to any room, making it a perfect fit for small corners or as a centerpiece in a living room.

4. Corner Shelves

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Make optimum use of the corners and maximize storage with corner shelves. These shelves are available in triangular and curved designs and are ideal for enhancing the utility of vacant corners.

5. Ladder Shelves

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These shelves resemble a ladder, lean against the wall, and are perfect for displaying books, plants, and decorative accents. Note that these shelves are wide at the base and narrow at the top.

6. Pipe Shelves

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If you love the modern, rustic, or industrial look then go use metal pipes as the support brackets for holding wooden or glass shelves. These are perfect for a modern or rustic décor.

7. Cubby Shelves

These are open compartments of various sizes that provide flexible storage solutions and are very popular in offices and children’s bedrooms. These are perfect for storing books, baskets, and decorative objects.

Designer: Freia Achenbach

A shelf named “Spectator” captivates with interlocking puzzle piece design, subtly resembling distorted human faces. Hand-painted resin pieces create a glossy finish reminiscent of ivory and bone. While minimalist, it challenges observer roles, blurring lines between viewer and viewed. Despite its unconventional appearance, it seamlessly interlocks, symbolizing the mental space objects occupy. Though not the most functional, it offers a unique perspective, prompting contemplation on perception and cognition in a compact, artistic package.

Designer: Narbutas

In major cities, space scarcity persists, particularly for independent millennials transitioning to their own homes. Office environments face similar challenges, necessitating efficient storage solutions. Narbutas’ Combus Shelving System addresses this need, offering versatile storage and space partitioning with customizable shelving types and heights. Its innovative configurations facilitate dynamic office layouts, while optional accessories enhance functionality. Made from recycled materials, it promotes sustainability and can be easily disassembled for reuse.

8. Wire Shelves


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These shelves provide a lightweight appearance and are highly recommended for use in the kitchen, laundry room, or bathroom to store kitchen essentials and bathroom items.

9. Console Units

Some console units come with open shelves and are primarily used for storing books. These not only look neat but are versatile pieces of furniture that can be used in the entryway, living room, or bedroom.

Designer: Carlos Platz

The Svolta shelving system epitomizes simplicity, with ingenious joinery inspired by alpine architecture. Using precise cutouts, it assembles effortlessly, relying solely on the shelves and legs themselves. Named after the Italian word for “rotation,” Svolta utilizes wooden pieces with fitted cutouts, allowing swift assembly. Crafted from sustainable European oak, it offers an elegant, scalable solution with minimal environmental impact.

10. Decorative Shelving

Some shelving units resemble a piece of wall art and can play a role in enhancing storage with creative shelving configurations of various colors, shapes, materials, and more.

Designer: Kengo Kuma for More Trees

Marumarushikaku is a modular wooden shelf with assorted stacked shapes. Its unconventional design serves as both functional storage and captivating artwork. Comprising rectangular and round boards, it enables personalized arrangements. Despite its delicate appearance, it securely accommodates items like books and plants. Crafted from locally sourced wood, it adds a minimalist touch with rotating plates and is ideal for enhancing any office or living space.

Designer: Lisa Brustolin

The new collection of everyday furniture challenges the prevailing minimalism trend in design by offering vibrant and visually intriguing pieces. Each item combines colors, materials, and shapes to create highlights in any room. For example, the Differ Shelf features translucent epoxy resin legs and opaque shelves, creating a captivating interplay of light. The Opticabinet, crafted by Venetian artisans, creates an optical illusion with alternating patterns of blue and green. Lastly, the Wrong Mirror offers a modern twist on a classic design, prompting reflection with its unconventional form and materials.

Designer: George Bosnas

Drawing inspiration from the beloved 1980s toy, the Rubika bookcase seamlessly merges modern aesthetics with nostalgic charm. While resembling a three-dimensional cube from a distance, upon closer inspection, it reveals the dimensions of a traditional bookcase. This captivating illusion is achieved through a clever arrangement of cubby shapes and a blend of assorted woods, resulting in a visually dynamic and intriguing piece.

Each type of open-shelf design comes with different advantages, and aesthetics, and can be integrated with the decor of different rooms. However, choose the best one according to your individual preferences and space.