Searching for bedroom shelving ideas? Here are 10 inspiring solutions

From floating to freeform, here’s how to make simple shelves work hard.

Even if we all dream of a minimalistic hotel-style bedroom, where only the main pieces of furniture and dreamy decor are on display, the reality is usually different.

With all the books, jewellery, family photographs and miscellaneous paraphernalia, we seem to cling onto, sometimes there’s just not enough space to store it. Despite our annual spring clean or wardrobe decluttering sessions, there’s always an overspill of “stuff” that needs a home.

bed with pink and navy headboard incorporating shelvingCredit: Studio Dean
Creative design can provide clever shelving solutions

Shelves, often simple in design and construction and easy to install, can be a solution, but how best to make them suit a bedroom? Here are 10 bedroom shelving ideas to help you with your search.

How to decide what shelving you need

When it comes to finding the right bedroom shelving ideas for you, Audrey Williamson, buyer at Oak Furnitureland suggests that: “A good starting point is to think about what you actually need shelves for.

“Are you looking to display ornaments, pictures and plants or do you need somewhere to store your books? This will help you decide on the size of the piece you need,” she says.

“You’ll then need to think about where the shelving will fit, being sure to think about access around your room. This is especially important around the bed – you want to ensure you have enough space to walk without bumping into things.”

1. Build up and over

Surround your bed with shelving

grey shelving built around and above bedCredit: Claudia Dorsch Interior Design
Create a cosy reading spot with surrounding shelving

Perfect as smaller bedroom storage, when space is at a premium, adding bespoke shelving around the bed ticks all our shelving requirements.

This design is filled with savvy ideas. From the integrated bedside tables, two different types of lighting – spotlights and more traditional bedside lights – as well as floor to ceiling shelving with a variety of heights and cupboards – it’s a hoarder’s delight.

We especially love how the designer has squeezed in one last shelf at ceiling height next to the entrance rather than dismissing it as unusable.

Painting the unit in a paler colour also ensures it blends into the space and isn’t intrusive. And whilst the deeper sections around the bed create a naturally cosy spot for sleeping or reading, reducing the depth of the shelving to the side means there’s still space for a comfy chair to sit and enjoy the view.

2. Add a shelf with wall panelling

This season’s popular trend can present a shelving solution

bedroom with peach panelled wall including top level shelfCredit: Neptune
Pop a shelf on your panelling for displaying decor

We’ve waxed lyrical about this season’s panelling trend on more than one occasion, extoling its virtues as an easy DIY project or as a way of adding storage to your small bedroom. It really is the interior gift that keeps on giving, as it even answers your shelving requirements, with the chance to run a narrow shelf that sits on top of the panelling. And although it won’t be necessarily deep, it can run the whole width of your walls.

So while you may not be able to use it to store larger items, it’s a great bedroom shelving option for displaying pictures in frames and a perfect spot for popping trinket boxes or bud vases with your favourite garden blooms.

When it comes to colour schemes, the rainbow’s your limit. The orange and blue colour combination in this room is fresh and fruity, but we’ve seen it used to equal effect in darker tones or neutrals. With the new season soon upon us, bedroom trends for 2024 are already in, so read our early round-up before you next pick up your favourite paintbrush.

3. Shelve your headboard

And by that we mean make it into a shelf, not bin it

bed with pink and navy headboard incorporating shelvingCredit: Studio Dean
Integrate your shelving and headboard for a luxurious look

Headboards can easily turn a bed from ordinary to extravagant as this clever design confirms. Even the simplest of divan beds can be elevated to elegant when framed with an eye-catching headboard, and this design is a lesson in how to do it well.

Painted in a soothing, elegant combination of grey and pink (one of the best colours to add to a grey bedroom), its height means there’s no compromise on comfort as there’s still plenty of space for a comfy padded headboard section and a recessed shelf to replace the need for a bedside table.

Built-in sockets in gold provide a home for the all-essential mobile charger, but by matching them to gold trim of the headboard and wall mounted lights above, they ooze glamour rather than practicality. And the best thing? The boxed design means there’s not one, but two shelving spaces, with the top level perfect for displaying artworks and decorative items.

4. Pick shelving with extra purpose

Add cabinets and drop-down tabletops

bedroom with yellow walls, patterned wallpaper and black shelving including a desk spaceCredit: Claudia Dorsch Interior Design
Use shelving that can multi-task

It’s true that we all ask a little more of our homes post-pandemic. During the time we spent at home, our houses had to work even harder. By day they were workplaces or even schools, while at night we wanted a sanctuary, somewhere to feel safe from the world outside.

Fast forward and we still use our homes for a multitude of reasons. Whether you’re still working from home, want to continue a newly discovered hobby or need somewhere for younger visitors to play, bedrooms are often the room allocated to the job.

Bedroom shelving can be your solution to these needs when it combines other elements such as cupboards and drop-leaf tabletops.

Need extra workspace in a guest room but don’t want to add a permanent workstation? Install a multi-functional unit that offers more than just shelves into your existing architectural alcoves.

We love how this room has blended a black shelving unit into a strikingly dark, rich wallpaper that contrasts with the bright yellow walls. Photos and decor are the focus of this shelving unit rather than the shelves. Placing the cupboard and tabletop on the lower sections again replaces the need for bedside tables that may otherwise have sat in the alcoves.

5. Slot in slimline shelving

Don’t dismiss shallow alcoves – they still offer opportunities

yellow painted bedroom with narrow shelves in alcoveCredit: Gong
Make your shallow alcoves purposeful

Even if your shallow alcoves aren’t deep enough for a shelving unit with extra features, there’s always room for slimline shelving to store smaller items.

Colour blocking works well again in this design, with everything from walls, shelving, soft furnishings and artwork featuring shades of yellow and brick red. As well as creating a lovely cocoon-like feel, colour blocking enhances the sense of space in a room by removing any boundaries created when you paint surfaces in different colours.

A simple stool replaces a bulkier bedside table so that lighting can be close to hand. To avoid the shelving looking too busy, use floating shelves rather than ones requiring brackets so that the items on display are the focus, not the shelving supports.

 

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Kyrre Stool

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Kyrre Stool

I’ve got a similarly narrow alcove in my new bedroom and have been looking at ideas to make it a feature rather than a wasted space. Although I’m considering a few options, including indulging in a roll of ‘Air wallpaper, £316 a roll from Harlequin’, (my current wallpaper obsession, but definitely an investment) to use as a backdrop, I’m leaning towards installing shelves. Even though I’ve been ruthless in my decluttering, I’ve still got treasured memories I need to display.

6. Create a ready-made dressing station

Stack your shoes and clothes on shelves for an easy morning routine

oak and white freestanding hanging rail with shelvingCredit: A Place for Everything
Use shelving to make your morning routine sleeker

As Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City confirmed with her closet filled with racks of designer delights, shoes and shelves make the perfect partners. A friend of mine once purchased a glass-fronted display cabinet in which to showcase her collection and I coveted it for years.

But if like me, your budget and expectation aren’t always aligned, there’s still a way of using shelving that both stylishly displays and fulfils a function.

We love this light wood and white metal unit that combines a hanging rail with shelving. Ideal for several uses, we dream of being organised enough the night before to curate our next day’s outfit to make the morning routine a breeze.

Or, if you’ve got less space in a guest room and want to give your visitors somewhere to hang and store their weekend wear, it’s stylish enough to be on permanent display with the side shelves providing opportunity to display candles, vases or photos year-round.

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Clothes Rail with Shelves - Bellwood

RRP: £375

Clothes Rail with Shelves - Bellwood

7. Get creative with your shelving design

Match edging strips to decor detailing

Pop on a trim to creative a cohesive lookCredit: Rebecca Hughes Interiors/Astrid Templier
Pop on a trim to creative a cohesive look

Although we love floating shelves for their clean and simplistic feel, if you feel the finish is too bare, have some fun with the edges and add a trim that ties in with the rest of your interior design detail.

When you’re deciding how to decorate a bedroom, it’s often one item that inspires the final look and this shelving display is a lovely example on how to create a fully cohesive scheme.

With floral as the foundation of the room, from the wallpaper and framed prints to the fresh garden blooms and decorative edging, everything is different, yet the same, because of the clever use of similar patterns and colourways.

8. Choose modular shelves for maximum storage

Keep the profile slim for streamline shelving

Modular options mean you can move or adapt them to suit your shelving needsCredit: Shelved
Modular options mean you can move or adapt them to suit your shelving needs

While built-in may be better for some, the beauty of a modular shelving system is that you can also move it with you if you relocate – or even just switch its position in your current home.

“By keeping bedroom storage units to one wall only, you are also freeing up additional wall space for a large headboard, artwork, and other bedroom furniture,” says Jonathan Clark, creative director of Shelved. “Floor-to-ceiling units will also allow you to save valuable floor space,” he adds, as they maximise on the vertical rather than horizontal space available.

To make the most of the wall space you do have, Clark recommends you, “opt for a tall modular design with a slim profile. Open shelves will provide additional storage,” he says, “allowing you to keep decorative items within reach, whereas low-level cupboards are perfect for keeping your personal possessions neatly hidden away.

And if you need your bedroom shelving idea to really earn its keep, “certain modular configurations can also act as a bedside table, creating a place for a bedside lamp, candle or book,” he explains, noting how, “multi-functional storage solutions are particularly ideal for small bedrooms, where every inch of space counts.”

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Snilesworth

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Snilesworth

Freestanding storage units often come with fixings to secure them to the wall. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing any new furniture in your home.

9. Use lean-to shelving

Climb the ladder to shelving success

Ladder shelving provides shelves with varying depthsCredit: Oak Furnitureland
Ladder shelving provides shelves with varying depths

Ladder shelving comes in a variety of forms, from lean-to to freestanding. Although leaning versions work well in bedrooms to display items such as scarves or extra throws, more solid versions are needed for items such as books and vases.

“In terms of styling,” says Williamson, “ladder shelving works well near a dressing area where it can be used to hold and display jewellery and accessories, or you might want to use it to store toiletries if it’s placed near an ensuite.”

“If your bedroom doubles as a workspace,” she says, “then add some filing boxes at the bottom to store paperwork or place magazines for Sunday morning reading. The separate shelves make the piece multipurpose, so it’s easy to showcase the items you love and hide clutter away in boxes on the lower levels.”

The added benefit of a free-standing ladder shelf is also the variety in the depth of each shelf. Its triangular sides lead to naturally wider shelves at the base, providing you with shelving for clothing or storage boxes.

We love how the wooden details of this shelving ladder help ground the unit to the floor and create a luxurious contrasting addition to the marble effect wallpaper.

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Whistler Natural Solid Oak Wide Shelving Unit

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Whistler Natural Solid Oak Wide Shelving Unit

10. Curate your corners

Even compact corner shelves can add valuable storage space

three images of corner shelvingCredit: Ikea UK
Small and corner shelving can make even the smallest space a shelf space

Mini but mighty, small shelves can be used to good effect when fitted from floor to ceiling in an otherwise unused space, such as the corner of a room or next to a doorway.

Pick shelves that match your wall colour so that they don’t encroach on the room too much and then store items away to your heart’s content.

Whether it’s for decorative display, neatly folded clothing or for adding pretty storage boxes to hide items that would look messy if left on display, the added beauty of using individual shelves rather than a ready-made unit is that you can also tailor the height between them.

Although this design has opted for uniformity, if you’ve got larger items you could make the spaces between the lower shelves larger and then reduce the space as you get higher.

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Lack Wall Shelf Unit

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Lack Wall Shelf Unit
Sarah Harley

Written by Sarah Harley she/her

Published:

Since first picking up a paintbrush and experiencing the joy of re-decorating her bedroom in a questionable red, white and grey scheme as a young teenager, Sarah Harley was hooked on the world of interior design. This obsession even led to a real life ‘Grand Designs’ project in 2005 when she donned a pink hard hat and appeared on TV screens, project managing the renovation and extension of a Grade II listed 17th century Folly in South Wales.

Throughout her career, Sarah has gained an array of experience in several different roles, ranging from copywriting, PR, events management and photography to interior design and home staging. With her two passions being the written word and the joys of a beautifully designed home, Sarah’s mission is to open the door on the world of interiors, inviting readers in to help them work their way through the vast choice of products, ideas and trends so that their own homes can reach their full potential.

Away from work, Sarah fills her Pinterest boards with more ideas, dreams of where to travel, takes photographs and loves being by the sea. She has two sons and if she absorbed everything they said would also be a football expert. The fact is she is often more interested in the colour and design of the kit – but don’t tell them that.

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