Whether it's piled high with books or lightly furnished with a Houzz-worthy selection of bowls, candles and plants, a well-designed shelf adds both form and function to an otherwise-neglected wall. Here's our pick of the best.
1. HAY Brackets Included Wall Shelf: from £39, reallywellmade.co.uk
As the name implies, the brackets for this clever wall shelf are part of the shelf itself. It’s made from one pressed sheet of steel that incorporates the shape of two or three brackets depending on length and comes powdercoated in either dark grey, white, dusty green or red.
2. Metal Shelf: £20, urbanoutfitters.com
Bright colours lift this utilitarian-looking wall shelf into its rightful place in the home, although at £20 it could as easily jazz up your garage or shed. Two black brackets fix back to the wall, and a sheet of folded, coloured sheet metal wraps over it to make a small shelf. Try fixing three in a row for a spread of colour.
3. Menu Gridy Fungi Floating Shelf: from £35, utilitydesign.co.uk
Norwegian designers Gridy were inspired by fungus growing on trees for this set of stained oak floating shelves in small, medium and large. In black, light or dark finishes, the organic shape looks best with a mixture of sizes staggered out on a feature wall.
4. Vitra Corniche Shelf: from £73, nest.co.uk
Like the little rocks that jut out from a cliff forming footholds or places to grip, Corniches are designed as safe places for the things that might otherwise get lost in our busy lives. House keys, plants, toys and collections are all intended to be displayed on these irregular-shaped floating shelves, which come in six colours and three sizes.
5. Artek 112B Shelf: from £302, nest.co.uk
In 1936, Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto perfected the art of bending wood for the brackets of his 112B wall shelf. Two elegantly rounded birch-ply shapes are fixed back to the wall and to a birch veneer shelf which sits underneath, making the sinuous brackets the star attraction.
6. Ferm Living Studio Shelf: £72, cloudberryliving.co.uk
This Danish-designed house-shaped shelf makes a great bedside addition, with plenty of space for your alarm clock and a glass of water; use your book as the roof and save your page at the same time. Alternatively, buy a few (different colours and sizes available) and create your own little wall village.
7. Grid Five Shelf Wall Unit: £75, oliverbonas.com
We reckon this industrial-style wire shelf would make great bathroom storage. Load it up with your best-looking lotions and potions and a potted succulent or two and you’re good to go. The copper is our interiors crush of the moment, and it’s basically dust-proof.
8. Linea1 Paperback Shelf A: £134, skandium.com
Bibliophiles take note, this signature design from the Berlin-based design duo is the perfect way to let your books shine. Made from a single piece of folded galvanised steel, it’s hardly visible when loaded up with your (coolest) tomes and the three-sided design means that there’s no book ends necessary.
9. Kartell Bookworm 11 Bookcase: £429, johnlewis.com
Something of a design classic by Ron Arad, this is an innovative way to store your books. There are 11 dividers that you can move into a configuration that works best for your stuff. Each support will take up to 10kg. There is also a seven divider version if you haven’t got such a big space.
10. Belvedere Shelf: £54.39, bouf.com
Here’s a nice one for a bathroom or bedroom. By French designer Inga Sempe, the solid beech shelf with an integrated mirror works well for make-up or displaying any smaller pieces you want to show off on their own platform.
11. Ikea Ekby Karl and Ekby Mans: £25, ikea.com
Unsurprisingly, Ikea stocks a huge range of good-value shelves and brackets, some that you can buy in one package, including this colourful combo. The 119cm shelf also comes in black if you want something less pink and there are versions with other fixtures, too.
If it's function you're after, Urban Outfitter's utilitarian offering is perfectly practical, well-priced and creates a good pop of colour, but if you've got a little more cash to spare, we love the simple functionality of the Linea1 and the beautiful Scandi design of the Artek.
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