Interior designers have long used wooden floating bookshelves as a way to add stylish storage and display space to a room. They don't take up any floor space like a traditional cabinet or shelf rack would, so they're particularly helpful in a small space where it can easily feel cramped.
Floating shelves are simply shelves that seem to "float" on the wall without any visible means of support.
We have a couple other articles about this type of wall shelf and floating nightstands, but this time we are focused specifically on whats possible with wood shelves.
Minimal To The Avant-Garde
There are plenty of articles out there with fairly conventional design ideas and we chose to include a few of those there for people who want more conservative design ideas.
But, because Probuk Studio is all about pushing the limits of what can be done, we wanted to include some forward thinking and genuinely different wall shelf designs that caught our attention.
You'll see some stylish more understated designs and some wood shelves that push the limits of what is possible with modern materials and fabrication methods.
How Does a Floating Shelf Attach To The Wall?
Before we get into designs, here's a quick overview of how floating shelves work in general if you aren't familiar.
This is the back of a natural wood edge floating wall shelf. It has two holes where metal brackets insert into the back of the shelf. This is what will support the shelf itself and anything you decide to put on it.
Here you can see how this type of wall shelf anchors in place. The brackets need to be anchored into something really sturdy for maximum strength, ideally the studs in the wall.
Necessary Mounting Hardware
As you can see, it's pretty minimal and usually makes for an easy installation. You just need some kind of mounting brackets and screws.
Lots of off the shelf or diy floating shelves use metal brackets like the one pictured below.
But there's one thing in the above image we would not recommend using. See those plastic pieces? Those are called wall anchors.
They're for mounting the wall shelf supports directly into drywall when you can't hit a stud, but we're not a fan of them because the shelf is going to be fairly weak and will fall off the wall if overloaded. Drywall just isn't that strong on its own.
A shelf thats exclusively for light storage items like family photos, small plants, or decoration they can work. But, for displaying books or kitchen storage we would steer clear of using wall anchors to mount floating shelves entirely.
Don't Use Wall Anchors Like These If You Can Help It
Wooden Mounting Brackets
One more thing to note about note about wall shelf mounting hardware, sometimes the internal structure of floating shelves can be custom made from wood as it is pictured below.
A wooden frame is custom cut and screwed into the wall studs.
Then, the actual shelf is cut to form a hollow design that fits over the wooden frame. Here's an image of what they look like from behind.
The outside surface of the shelf is usually veneered or stained to match the decor. And as you'll see further along in the article, the possibilities are near endless.
Are Floating Shelves Stylish?
Absolutely and we'll prove it to you!
Now that you have an idea of how a floating shelf works and why you might want to install them, let's get the interior design ideas flowing.
Basic Wooden Shelf Set
Simple, minimal and easy to install. Whats not to like here? This is the classic option that works well in pretty much any room, be it kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom. This is a medium-dark color stain, but just adjust the finish to match your decor.
Natural Edge Floating Shelf
If the standard floating shelves pictures above are too vanilla looking for you, the "natural edge" adds more character and personality to your home decor.
Especially in a space with a modern design (think lots of smooth surfaces and clean lines) the natural edge look adds some spice to prevent the space from feeling too synthetic and sanitized. A clean room looks great but nobody wants a space to feel excessively clean, like a hospital.
The look of solid wood can break things up just enough to add the right amount of organic texture you might be looking for.
Natural Edge #1
Since natural edge shelves are usually a solid wood piece with an unfinished edge, the type and cut of wood really makes a big difference. You're using a texture created by nature to display books or organize decorations.
The example below isn't quite as gnarly as the first, but still looks great and will wipe clean more easily while still giving you the extra storage space you need.
Natural Edge #2
Natural Edge #3
For floating shelves with even more character, you can opt for a design that leaves as much of the natural texture of the shelf set as intact as possible.
The corners are rounded and sanding is done to make the shelf feel like a finished product, but the natural flow of the wood is preserved to make this style of floating shelf feel at home over a fireplace or in a dining room to display decorative glassware.
Corner Mounted Wall Shelves
If you're looking for the best floating shelves for a small office or bedroom, this design might be the perfect fit.
Probuk Studio does a lot of fabrication and design for clients in Northern NJ in areas like Jersey City, Newark, Union City, Hoboken, as well as throughout Manhattan and the New York City outer boroughs. So we're used to lots of small or oddly shaped rooms.
This is our bread and butter. A corner like this is perfect for wall mounted shelves because otherwise the space might go unused. Instead, by hanging triangular floating shelves it can be used to decorate, provide storage, and organize books.
The Other Kind Of Corner Mounted Floating Shelves
Here are three shelves that take the opposite approach to the last example. Instead of being mounted inside a tight corner of the room, these are hung around the outside of the wall corner to provide extra storage.
And as you can see, they can be cut to multiple sizes and shapes.
In terms of functionality, this is also one of our top picks because despite being three shelves, you get 6 surfaces on the wall shelves that can be used for storage space. Each floating shelf has a top and bottom.
Open Floating Shelves For Books And Magazines In Solid Wood
This unique wall shelf design is another one of our top picks if you know you want to store books or magazine exclusively.
You could maybe argue that this is not actually a set of floating shelves, but instead a floating book rack, but functionally we don't think it matters that much!
For organizing books in living rooms, this is an eye catching design that gives easy access to all your reading material and elevates your home decor.
The only drawback with this style of floating shelf is you'll only be able to see the outermost book or magazine, so maybe not the ideal option if you want to really display your books. That said, they look so cool in a room, people will probably have more to say about the shelf than the actual books!
Floating Shelves: The Industrial Look
The standard way of installing floating shelves in a room hides the support structure.
However, this style of design goes the other way on purpose—you hang the shelf using exposed metal pipes, usually in a rustic grey or black finish,
supporting the wood shelves.
They're not everybody's cup of tea when it comes to home decor, but in the right
space such as a laundry room or bathroom, they can look great. And they certainly can hold a lot of weight if you plan on stacking heavy items on the walls.
The Piping Rack
Instead of using the piping for mounting the shelves and aesthetics, it can also be incorporated as part of the function. In the example below, the pipe makes a rack to prevent stored items from falling off, perfect for bottles of wine or spirits.
Crossed Floating Shelves
If you are looking for a lighter design of wall shelf to store spices, small picture frames, or
small accessories, this "criss cross" design is a perfect fit, especially if your room is calling for a shallower floating shelf.
Geometric Floating Shelves
This is technically a single floating wall shelf, but look at how eye catching it is and how many small plants you can fit on it! This would also look great if used to display picture frames with family photos in your primary living space.
It definitely looks too stylish to lock it away in the laundry room and its probably too wide to fit into a lot of bathrooms, especially the smaller ones we encounter in New Jersey and NYC.
It's also not a particularly deep wall shelf, so its better suited for storing accessories or just to add a decorative piece to the house.
Rather than calling this a floating shelf, it leans a little closer to be being wall art that has some functionality.
Asymmetrical Floating Shelf
If you enjoy designs that are asymmetrical but still feel balanced, this is a solid
wood wall shelf design that gives you that off kilter balance while retaining some of the desirable qualities of the previous example.
The beauty of this design in particular is you can easily scale this up to fill the space in almost any room. It would look great in a kitchen to store spices and coffee (you can add additional levels if you have a lot of them) but we would definitely put it on display somewhere in the room because it's a little too cool looking to have this locked away in a pantry where nobody can appreciate it.
A Scaled Up Variation of the Asymmetrical Shelf
Maze Style Floating Shelves
This maze-like shelf unit is sitting on the floor, but we can use this maze-like design and the standard mounting hardware to create an eye catching wall shelf that allows for tons of storage in a wall mounted unit.
It definitely too big for something like a bathroom (unless we scale it down quite a bit) but for something like kids toys (it has a fun look and feel) as well as plenty of space to help keep things organized.
Floating Shelves For The Music Lover
If you love music and play an instrument or just have a really sweet stereo system, these floating shelves are going to let every guest know it!
These wall shelves can also be modified so each space inside the floating shelf has a drawer to keep small items together, or the wall shelf can be left open to display accessories.
Floating Shelves For A Growing Library
The perfect wall shelf for a nature themed room or a children's play area for
obvious reasons. It looks like a tree!
This type of shelf set is scalable as well, so you if you want to look with a smaller area or you have a redwood sized library it can be scaled up.
Since the individual shelves are solid wood, the will also be fairly strong, provided that the wall has an ample number of studs available.
Delicate, Picture Frame Style Floating Shelves
This style of shelf is ideal for a softer, more delicate decor with a modern feel and lots of clean lines throughout the space.
The visual framing built into the shelf design will look best on a wall with a contrasting color and some kind of decoration on display. Think of this style more for aesthetics and less for storage.
The Best Floating Shelves For A Modular Design
The "honeycomb" style of floating wall shelf looks great in many spaces and the beauty of it is you can scale up easily later if you want.
Need to add more storage? No problem, just build another cell in the same shape and stain, then hang. This example has a relatively shallow design, but it's possible to make them with more depth to increase the storage capacity of the shelves.
The Massironi Floating Shelf
This design is attributed to Manfredo Massironi, an Italian architect (or as he said and "experimental draftsmen" who was obsessed with visual forms.
It provides plenty of storage for smaller items, but the main reason to hang a shelf like this is because it's visually stunning. If you're an architecture fan, this is a great way to show it off to guests.
A Wooden Wall Shelf Inspired By Nature
Designed to emulate the look of fungi growing on the side of a tree in the woods, these shelves take on a very nature themed form without being too obvious about it like a more "rustic" type of design would.
Perfect for a bedroom that needs just a touch of something to display books, succulents, or small decorations.
Curved Wood Sine Wave Wall Shelf
For a strictly modernist decor, this wall shelf uses a curved piece of wood to support the actual shelf surface. In this case it happens to be glass, but if you prefer an all wood design, that is a simple change to make.
If you're thinking about other design possibilities, this would pair well with the "fungi" style of shelves in the previous example.
Triangular Shelf Set
If the Fungi look isn't your cup of tea but you still want small shelves you can distribute over a big surface, this triangular design may be a better fit.
It still has a modern edge to it, but gives a warmer feeling with the exposed wood grain.
Simple Curved Floating Wall Shelf
Simple and to the point. Your basic floating shelf design, except it is curved in a deliberately imperfect way.
Simple, Functional Kitchen Shelf and Knife Holder
This twisted design is very clever and stylish because it provides some space for spices like salt and pepper, but the section after the twist has an embedded magnet that allow you to stick knives to the shelf surface for easy storage.
Circular Floating Wood Shelves
An all circular design that provides a distinct and eye-catching look thats perfect for plants or small ceramic pieces you want to display.
You do lose some storage space compared to a traditional floating shelf, but if you're opting for this design, you're probably more concerned with form over function.
Meet Synapse, an interactive system of shelves created by the Chilean artist Sebastian Errazuriz and inspired by human brain cells.
These modules can be combined together in any configuration imaginable, giving each piece an organic feel--and they're perfect for creating your very own walls.
Another piece by Sebastian Errazuriz, but this asymmetric wall shelf is even more bold. Inspired by the thick ivy in his childhood garden, he created an artwork of incredible beauty and complexity in which each shelf takes the form as if it were a living creature with its own personality - at times elegant yet fierce!
Wooden Bicycle and Wall Shelf
Designer Chris Brigham has come up with a novel multifunctional concept for storing books and bikes - the Wooden Bicycle Bookshelf.
The idea behind it, obviously includes combining two things that are often stored separately: bicycles on one side; shelves filled with read-worthy material (books) across from them in perfect symmetry.
Flexible Wooden Bookshelf
Last but certainly not least, the Chuck flexible wooden bookshelf by German designer Natascha Harra-Frischkorn is a shelving system that will adapt the way you want it to.
It's one of the more unique design ideas in this article and the only one the resident will adapt to their needs on a day to day basis.
Here is the concept:
If your book storing requirements change, so does this ingenious shelf!
It's made of six 4 mm thick sheets of wood held securely at each end with stainless steel sleeves which provide an adjustable yet very distinctive flair for any room.
If can function as a single, fairly vanilla floating shelf in this configuration.
Shelf When Expanded
However, if you need more storage, you can simply pull apart the leaves of the shelf and insert your books, which will be naturally held in place by the elasticity of the wood.
Metal Brackets To Anchor Ends
As you can see from this view, the stainless steel sleeves on the end of the shelf allow for the individual pieces of wood to bend and flex as needed.
Floating shelves are a unique and versatile way to spruce up any living space.
They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to fit any design scheme you may have in mind.
If you found this page looking for design ideas for a project you're currently putting together, contact us today for a free consultation.
We would be happy to help bring your designs to life!