9 best modular shelving

Invest in storage solutions which adapt to your living space

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The Independent Online

Industrial in scale, modular shelving systems can go so much further than your average bookshelf. Across entire walls, these systems make great open storage solutions for living rooms, kitchens and offices. Some let you add cupboards and desks – and all are easily designed to work around the quirks of your space. Unlike built-in storage, you can take shelving systems with you when you move making them a great investment. 

1. Skandium String Shelves: from £64.40, Skandium

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Now 60 years old, this classic Swedish design by Nils Strinning is well loved for its functionality and light looks. Metal wire partitions divide up shelves of different depths, and there’s a great variety of finishes to choose from. You can add to the String system as your budget allows, from a single shelf to a whole wall. Cupboards can be built in, making it useful in the kitchen too.

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2. Ikea Algot Wall Uprights and Shelves: £260, Ikea

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Ikea’s system is super versatile, if a little utilitarian when it comes to looks. The bracket and plastic shelf system works well in the living room, where it can blend your TV with books and bits for decoration. The Algot system includes various storage add-ons, and its powder-coated steel finish means it can be used in bathrooms too. 

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3. On&On Shelving System: from £58.66, On&On

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This British shelving company makes made-to-measure designs that it sells direct to the customer. There’s a maximum size of 5m x 2.4m, but a single shelf can run the entire length. It has a seamless effect you don’t get with systems that are made up of smaller parts. There’s a choice of finishes to rails and shelves, and an option to include lighting and bespoke colours.

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4. Kriptonite K1 Wall System Large: £525, Conran Shop

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Best for bookcases and wardrobes, this system is made of aluminium uprights and wood shelves treated with a smooth white lacquer. The uprights have holes to adjust shelves to different heights and positions that suit your needs. This price buys an area 153cm wide and 200cm high, but a couple of units could be used side by side to fill a larger wall.

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5. Heal’s Tower Shelving System: from £65, Heal’s 

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Like the name suggests, building Heal’s tower system is like designing your own mini cityscape. Black railing towers are connected with veneered oak shelving panels that stay in place with subtle grooves on the underside. The shelves can be bought as singles or in sets of five, and there’s a choice of two sizes for the towers. The system is great for utilising awkward corners.

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6. Muuto Stacked shelving system: £649, Nest

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Small coloured clips make these boxes stack together as shelves. The system can be as big or small as you like, and because they are not wall-mounted, these shelves can make an excellent room divider too. There are three sizes of unit which are made from either painted or veneered MDF. This price is based on a combination of six boxes. 

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7. 606 Universal Shelving System: from £318, Vitsœ

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This icon of design by Dieter Rams is the one which all other modern shelving systems aspire to. The clever E-shaped track to which the shelves are fixed to, mean it can be assembled with minimal tools and is incredibly versatile. The configurations are endless and you can integrate cabinets, drawers, desks and hanging rails and bookends which all continue the same industrial look. 

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8. Cubit Shelf With Base: £309.09, Cubit 

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German company Cubit offers 38 different modules of shelving in eight different depths and a rainbow of colours. The MDF boxes are sized specifically for binders, DVDs, CDs and books. There’s an online tool to help you design a system that suits your space, or you can buy preconfigured products like this shelf stack with base.

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9. Royal system: from £154, Twentytwentyone 

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One for the mid-century lovers, this Danish design from 1948 was one of the first wall-hung storage systems. It’s made up of oak, walnut or laminate shelves and brass or stainless steel hangers that give the flexibility to extend or reconfigure your shelving. A single shelf costs a royal £154 so make sure you cost accordingly if you’re planning to fill a whole wall. 

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Verdict

The String shelf has the functionality that comes with a great timeless design, but with a bit of warmth too. The starting price is low and shelves and other components can be added in as budget allows. Heal’s Tower system is more dramatic and has the advantage of being freestanding, making it useful if your home doesn’t have huge stretches of wall.

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