Storage space is frequently a problem no matter what type of space you occupy. Vast, sprawling homes with full basements and attics, tiny urban apartments with one closet, cabins in the woods, townhouses in a retirement community, and any other home you can image can suffer from lack of places to put things safely and in an organized manner. Cabinets and closets work, but they can take up a lot of room and be expensive to install. Shelving, on the other hand, makes sense in almost any application.
How do you find the best shelving type for your space? Answer these four questions to figure it out.
1 – Are They for Style or Storage Only?
Shelving units intended to help decorate your home will have different materials, structures, and hardware than those that are just for storage. Few people will stack metal and plastic shelves in their kitchen, but they will in the garage to hold tools. A fine-grain, perfectly-stained floating wood shelf may hold a vase with style in the living room but would be out of place in the basement.
2 – How Strong Do They Have to Be?
While many types of shelves are suited for multiple purposes, knowing what you want to store there the most often helps when choosing the best type for your space. Spice shelves in the kitchen barely need support at all, while built-in bookcases have to hold up such a heavy load they basically become a part of the wall support system.
If you buy a shelving kit from a hardware store or online shop, they will probably list how much weight can safely be kept on each shelf. Err on the side of safety to prevent disasters in the future.
3 – Will the Floor or Wall Support Them?
Besides knowing if the shelves will support what you want to hold, you also need to check to make sure the floor and walls will hold them up safely. Most residential floors will have no problem with standard shelving storage units. The contents of the shelves matter too. For example, large fish tanks and stacks of leather-bound books are incredibly heavy.
Hanging shelves on the wall is another story. Always find the studs and make sure the shelf brackets or bolts fit into them securely. There are DIY kits for hanging shelves securely. When in doubt, call in the professionals to help you find the best way to get shelves that will never fall.
4 – Are They Convenient and Useful?
Shelving can be purely decorative. Narrow glass floating shelves may display a few small baubles or figurines. Most shelves are intended for storage purposes as well, and you have to make sure they provide that service in a convenient way. Depending on your home and the space available, they can be up to the ceiling, down to the floor, and stretch from corner to corner.
As your storage needs evolve over the years, will the shelves still provide the same level of use as when they were installed? The answer to this question may determine the height of each shelf space, for example. A shelf specifically designed to hold your extensive shot glass collection will do little to store your children’s toys when you give up partying and settle down.
Choosing the best type of shelving for your space requires more forward-thinking than simply wondering if the shelves look good. In the end, shelves are mostly about storing things in a convenient and secure manner. Before you screw the first bracket into a stud or measure the wall for bookshelf installation, ask yourself these questions to make sure the option is right for you and your home.