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15 Smart Shelving Projects and Ideas

by Maxwell Tielman

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas
If living in Brooklyn has taught me anything, it’s how to make room out of nothing. Matchbox-sized rooms; windowless, code-violating basement closets; hallways with a kitchen at the end of them—you name the crummy, overpriced apartment living situation, and chances are, some New Yorker has braved it. There are numerous ways to make do with these rathole-sized abodes, but one of the most effective is as old as time itself: shelving. Yeah, I know. Like, duh. Still, although shelving might seem like the most obvious space-saving technique out there, once you break the concept down, the options (and ideas!) are seemingly endless. From crates lined with wallpaper and mounted to a wall to a revolutionary way of looking at magazine holders, we’ve got fifteen of our favorite and most beautiful shelving ideas to keep you—and your teenie apartment—organized and happy. What are your favorite space-saving shelving techniques? We’d love to hear them! —Max

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

1. Turn wooden wine crates into decorative, wall-mounted shelves to display books and mementoes. Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

2. Use pegs to create a creative storage space on a large, unused wall. Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

3. Use rope to create a simple and effective shelving system. Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

4. Vintage leather belts + salvaged wood = one snazzy storage solution! Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

5. Turn a discarded drawer into a shelf/reading light. Perfect for reading nooks! Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

6. Wooden pallets make for awesome shelving frames. Full project here.

Design*Sponge | 15 Brilliant Shelving Ideas

7. Next time you see some beautiful driftwood, take it home and turn it into a beautiful shelf! Full project here.


8. Shelves need not be symmetrical, or even fully horizontal! Use recycled wood to experiment with different shapes and sizes! Full story here.


9. The spaces above windows and doors are often under-utilized. They make for great storage spaces! Full story here.


10. Mix mass-market brackets with recycled or salvaged wood for a lovely custom look. Full project here.


11. Create a custom framed shadow box to add some elegant flair to your storage. Full project here.


12. Craft a glamorous, deceptively simple shelf using beads and plexiglass. Full project here.


13. Finding an attractive and functional way to store teas and coffee can be difficult. This DIY shelf is a perfect solution! Full project here.


14. Vintage ladders are easy to come by at flea markets and make for stunning shelves. Full story here.


15. Transform a magazine organizer into a handy-dandy storage unit. Full project here.

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  • This is the part where killjoys like me have to remind people that just pallets are stacked up outside of a building does not mean that they are free for the taking, and if you take them you maybe stealing. Ask first. Also make sure if you are going to use them in a space where children will be around them that they are not the treated kind.

    • That is the gentlest reminder regarding pallets ever. Thank you for being kind and reminding others to be kind!

  • The lamp was the best for me. I was looking for ideas to spice up me room and as a book lover, the hanging lamp amazed me. I was wondering why I didn’t come up with that idea.

  • I never noticed that it was a pallet until i arrived at your comment section. Very nice! I also love the combination of the wood and leather belt. You’re very creative and resourceful. Thanks for sharing your talent.