Bookcases and other shelving options

In today's homes, bookcases and shelving are being used for more than just books. Shelves are a handy way to display collections, family photos and even bathroom toiletries. The wide variety of materials and shapes means there isn't a room in your house where a shelf wouldn't be a useful and attractive addition.

Matching Shelves to Your Decor

Consider the purpose of your room when adding a shelf. Even the smallest bathroom can benefit from the convenience provided by a corner shelf. Line your home office or den with bookshelves to give it the look of a library, or give your office a more professional feel – and protect its books – by adding a barrister bookcase.

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Glass and metal shelves are good choices for home offices or more modern decor, or consider "floating" shelves, which use hardware applied to the back to give the shelves the appearance of floating on your wall. Solid wood shelves give a more traditional look, either classic or country depending on the type of wood and the finish.

Shelves as Focal Points

Sometimes the shelves, rather than their contents, are the center of attention. By thinking outside the box and getting creative, you can devise a set of shelves that complement the decor of a room or highlight a collection or theme.

When considering options to create a unique wall shelf, think of the overall structure you're looking for. Most shelves are long and have a relatively slim profile. Wooden skis fit that profile perfectly. Attach a wooden strip or blocks to the bottom of the ski to aid in attachment to the wall. Or try the same idea using a skateboard as a bookshelf. These shelves lend themselves beautifully to a kids room, den, family room or other casual living space, as well as more urban, eclectic decor.

For country or rustic decor, consider using an old orchard ladder, hung vertically or horizontally, as shelving. When hung sideways, you can use both the top edge, as well as the spaces between the rungs as display space. Or, for a thin, vertical spot in need of attention, hand the ladder vertically as it was intended, and use the rungs for mini-shelves. Choose a ladder with flat rungs, rather than round dowels.

Salvaged Shelves

In addition to skis and ladders, consider architectural salvage yards as a source for unique bookshelves. Reclaimed barn wood is an excellent choice for rustic, country, modern or urban decor, and can be used as you would newer wood.

Thrift stores, yard sales and auctions are all great places to look for vintage freestanding shelving units that will make your room's decor really pop.