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Floating shelves: What you should know

Floating shelves are a creative way to shake up traditional overhead cabinets and add a unique styling element to your home. Yet years into this trend, there still remains a hot debate amongst homeowners around their practicality. So how do you know they’re right for you? Luckily, we’re diving into everything floating shelves so you can feel confident in your design decisions.


Floating shelf bracket and panel

What are floating shelves?

Floating shelves have concealed fixings and are attached to a wall with no visible supports. They give off a light and airy feel and showcase your homewares. This often can be confused with open shelving, but the terms aren’t interchangeable.

Open shelves are not enclosed by a door or panel, but can be built into cabinet carcasses, can have visible brackets and come in multiple forms. Hence, floating shelves are a type of open shelving. 

To install, a concealable shelf bracket will be screwed into a wall, which is then slid into the holes on the wall-facing side of the shelf and fixed into place.


How well do they bear weight?

Although floating shelves create a seamless and sleek look, they don’t support as much weight as regular overheads and open shelving. Character Cabinets CEO Squeak Van Duyn explains that they should be a more decorative decision rather than a direct replacement for overheads. 

“Floating shelves should be seen more as a decorative product rather than for storage. In circumstances where the shelf is fixed between two walls, the shelf can then hold as much weight as an overhead cabinet, however, where the shelf is just floating in the middle of a wall, it should only be used for ornaments etc.” 


floating shelves on tiled wall

What maintenance is required?

Floating shelves are more exposed to things like grease and dust in your home. Interior designer Yanic Simar suggests putting commonly used items on floating shelves to avoid dust building up. 

“If the items are used frequently, they won’t sit for long. If you keep rarely used items like specialty glasses or serving pitchers on open shelves, be prepared to give them a rinse before use.”

Additionally, these shelves require careful styling and curating as your homewares are on display. Making sure your possessions are arranged neatly and kept tidy can take some extra time and effort.



What are the benefits?

If you don’t mind the occasional dusting, floating shelves can be a great styling outlet. If you’re a collector or just love looking at your beloved knick-knacks from over the years, curating and rearranging from time to time can be rewarding and an easy way to freshen up your space. 

Being able to see your go-to items can help you stay organised. Whether you find yourself doubling up on spices or never being able to find that one good pan, having easy access to items can make life a little easier. 


The takeaway

Floating shelves are a great way to complement overhead cabinetry and provide some additional flair to your space. The main thing to consider is whether you want to commit to the dusting, styling and maintenance that comes along with them. 


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