Shelving ideas for clutter-free living

Shelving should suit the way you live and the space you have. Find a place for everything with these ideas using freestanding, wall-hung shelving units and modular shelves.

Create wall-to-wall shelving:

Place three open shelf units flush to the wall to create the look of built-in storage that doesn't dominate the room - and requires no DIY.

How to choose the right unit:

* Allow 3cm to 5cm space above books so you can easily pull them out.

* For accessibility, go for units no higher than 21cm, with the top shelf at 180cm.

* Shelves should be 30cm wide to fit larger books and 20cm for paperbacks, CDs and DVDs. Leave 25cm to 30cm between each shelf.

* Hardback books are heavy, so need sturdy shelves. Slim shelves are only suitable for lighter paperbacks and ornaments.


Stylist's tip:

Keep the wall colour light to contrast with dark shelving and provide a backdrop for ornaments.

Create a room divider:

Separate living and dining areas with freestanding shelves. They'll add storage that can be accessed from both sides.

* Display objects in between books - it'll lighten the overall feel.

* Keep the look neat by tucking small items away in storage boxes.

* Arrange books by size - it's more visually pleasing to have large ones at the bottom in deeper shelves.

* For closed-back bookshelves, line the back of the shelves with wallpaper to add a personal touch.

* Store oversized books horizontally to reduce the stress on their spines.

* Put display items on eye-level shelves.

* Light-coloured shelves divide without being too dominating; choose a darker unit for a greater impact.

* Create a focal point by grouping flowers in the middle of the unit - mix and match vases of different shapes and sizes for an eye-catching feature.

Use box shelves:

* Tidy away your home office essentials with wall-mounted cubbyhole-style shelves and keep your desk clear from clutter.

* Hang box shelves above your desk, painted to match the colour of your wall. It looks smart and you'll never need book ends again.


Stylist's tip 

To customise your shelving, line the backs of the cubbyholes with a bold-print wallpaper.

Double the capacity:

* Get the maximum use out of minimum shelving by fitting two rows of books on each shelf - simply raise the back row of books on a piece of wood that's painted to match the shelves.


Stylist's tip 

Paint the floating shelves the same colour as a desk below to create a modern take on a dresser.

Install sliding panels:

Create stunning but inexpensive sliding fabric panels that'll look fantastic drawn across alcoves. Try IKEA for the tracks and fixings.

 
Stylist's tip

Match the fabric on the panels to the wallpaper on the chimney breast to create the illusion of a feature wall

Choose flexible modular units:

Want something you can add to over time? Go for modular units you can arrange exactly how you want, with drawer inserts to hide clutter.


Stylist's tip

Laid back on their sides and covered with a seat pad, the modular units create a handy window seat with storage.

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