Choosing the Right Shelf

Shelving is used for a multitude of reasons and can be found in both home and professional spaces. In this guide, we will identify the key points to consider when choosing a shelf, whether for decorative, display, or storage purposes.

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  • How to choose the right shelf

    CLEVER - Wall Mounted Shelves

    CLEVER – Wall Mounted Shelves

    In order to choose the right shelf for your needs, you’ll want to consider a variety of important points. While the main use of the shelf is the focus, other elements will play a role in helping you make your selection. Here are the key criteria:

    • Purpose
    • Designated location
    • Types and installation options
    • Styles available
    • Material options
    • Current trends
  • How do you plan to use the shelf?

    LF ITALY - Display Rack

    LF ITALY – Display Rack

    Shelving can be a decorative addition to any space, but you might have something specific to store or display, in which case the strength of the shelf is crucial. Check that your shelf is correctly dimensioned and strong enough for your needs. Also, think about how often you need to access the displayed items as this can also impact the position and height at which you place your shelving.

    If you are looking for shelving to stock or display particular items intended for sale, you might want to consider shop shelving or display racks. These can be dimensioned to display specific items such as magazines, shoes, eyeglasses, clothing, and wine bottles. A modular design might help to make changing up your displays easier.

  • Where will your shelf be used and by whom?

    KRISTALIA Outdoor Shelves

    KRISTALIA Outdoor Shelves

    Make sure that the shelves you choose will fit the environment and intended user. In residential properties, for example, shelves for rental housing need to be long-lasting and easy to clean. Individual homeowners might seek more decorative shelving to suit their personal preferences. If your shelves are destined for commercial or tertiary buildings, such as an office, shop, or school, check that they comply with local regulations.

    Think about how frequently the shelves will be used and whether they are likely to come into contact with water or household chemicals. Shelves that will be used intensively by a large number of people will need to be much tougher and easier to clean than shelving for an individual. Shelves for wet environments such as bathrooms and kitchens need to be water and stain-resistant. If you need outdoor shelving to display plants and sculptures, or to store equipment, make sure they are weather, insect, and UV-resistant.

  • What types of shelves and installation options are available?

    LAGO Wall Mounted Shelf

    LAGO Wall Mounted Shelf

    Think about how many shelves you need and how often you’ll need to access the stored items. The dimensions and position of the shelves can also have a big impact on the layout and decor of a room.

    Free-standing shelves don’t require wall fixings and are therefore easier to install, but they take up floor space. They can be moved if you want to reconfigure your space, although not all designs are made to be repositioned regularly. If you need mobile shelves, you might want to opt for shelves on casters.

    High or floor-to-ceiling shelves can maximize wall space for displays or storage. They can also be used to divide spaces. While wide floor-to-ceiling shelves can be great for storage areas, they might not be the best solution for compact living spaces as they can make a room feel small. If you prefer to keep the space open and need all the items stored to be within reach, low free-standing shelves might be a better option.

    Wall-mounted shelves can be great for decoration and displaying important items. You’ll want to check that the wall fixings are suitable for the type of wall or partition you have and that they can support the total weight of the shelf and items stored on it. Make sure the shelves are installed at the right height for their intended use.

  • What should I know about shelf material options?

    When choosing a shelf by material, make sure it will be suitable for the intended use and environment. Here are some of the most popular shelf materials:

    FIAM ITALIA Glass Shelves

    FIAM ITALIA Glass Shelves

    Wooden shelves can be made out of solid wood or an engineered wood board such as plywood, MDF, or particle board. Engineered wood boards such as MDF or particle boards are cheaper than solid wood and often have a coating such as a lacquer or a decorative outer layer in laminate or melamine. They tend to be economical and available in a wide variety of colors and motifs such as imitation wood. Plywood shelves are made up of layers of wood glued together at a 90-degree angle. They are therefore much stronger than particle boards and are a cheaper alternative to solid wood shelving.

    Metal shelves are popular for both decorative and functional storage shelving. Shelves in stainless steel or aluminum are impermeable, easy to clean, odorless, and corrosion-resistant, making them a popular choice for kitchens and bathrooms. Stainless steel shelving is often the preferred choice for hygienic environments such as professional kitchens or laboratories because it is more durable. Metal storage shelving is often modular, with several assembly systems available such as clip, rivet, and cantilever shelving. Steel is a popular material for warehouse and stockroom shelving due to its great strength and heavy load capacity. Although aluminum is not as strong as steel, it is much lighter and easier to recycle.

    Solid wood shelves are long-lasting and can be more easily refinished and repaired than most engineered wood boards. Even so, they might need a protective coating such as varnish to prevent staining. Wood can vary in density, resistance, availability, and price. In general, softwoods such as pine are cheaper than hardwoods because they grow faster and are more readily available. Hardwoods are much denser, so they tend to be tougher and are frequently chosen for their aesthetic look and particular technical properties. Teak, for example, is naturally water-repellent and weather-resistant, making it a great choice for outdoor shelving or bathroom shelving.

    Glass shelves are generally easy to clean and work well with other materials such as metal or wood. Transparent or mirrored glass shelves can help spaces appear more open and luminous. Glass shelves are usually made out of toughened or laminated glass for safety, but they can still be chipped or cracked. It is best to avoid this material in places where the shelves will be used regularly by a large number of people, such as stockrooms, schools, etc.

  • What style shelves are available?

    MOVISI - Original Design Shelves

    MOVISI – Original Design Shelves

    Shelves come in a range of styles, allowing you to find one that can complement your existing decor or stand out as a feature. For period-style rooms, you might want to opt for traditional or classic-style shelves in materials such as brass, wood, and glass that incorporate decorative motifs from a certain era. Contemporary shelves come in a variety of shapes, colors, and materials. If you are looking for something to stand out, an original design shelf in an unusual shape could make your space look more interesting and provide a focal point. If you need something more subtle, a minimalist design shelf could be a better choice.

  • What are the current shelving trends?

    AMBIVALENZ Folding Shelf

    AMBIVALENZ Folding Shelf

    Minimalist and compact shelves continue to be popular for decorating home spaces. Trends include floating shelves that are supported by hidden fixtures, space-saving folding shelves, or ones with integrated drawers. If you’re looking for an alternative to a single flat shelf, consider a geometrically shaped shelf to decorate your walls and frame your belongings.

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