Are there ever enough shelves?

Our storage requirements vary in different phases of life. We may need shelf space to display travel memories one year and then fill them with children’s books the next year.

With these changing needs – not to mention our evolving tastes in decor – it’s no wonder putting shelving is one of the best DIY projects out there.

While choosing one seems pretty straightforward, there are a few considerations to keep in mind if you want your shelves to last.


Before buying a shelf, think about where to put it. Is it outside or inside

If it’s an outdoor balcony shelf or a location that’s exposed to a lot of heat and moisture, galvanized steel is your best bet, according to Sujal Suresh, product and computer designer at local design firm Custo.

If you insist on wood, go for a solid example like teak, as its natural oils offer some protection against wear and tear. A protective coating is still required to ensure top condition.

When it comes to indoor shelving, you have a wider range of options.

Mr Darryl Loh, CEO and founder of custom wood furniture maker Table Guy, advises homeowners to first consider what type of wall they want to mount it on.

Heavier shelves made of solid wood or plywood must be mounted on a concrete wall that can support their weight.

Wood is a no-no for bathrooms.

“We strongly advise against using solid wood in rooms with high humidity and poor ventilation,” he said.

Instead, use plastic shelves that are lightweight and won’t warp easily.

Ms. April Kwan, Ikea’s communications and interior designer, said, “Recycled plastic has many advantages. It’s strong, durable, light, versatile and easy to maintain. I know, however, that many will disapprove of the word ‘plastic’. You can Always look for other sustainable alternatives. “


Nowadays, shelf colors range from neon colors to light oak.

Since they are usually placed in the center or high up against a wall, shelves take up a significant amount of visual space and change the overall look of a room.

A safe bet is to match their shadow to your walls. Alternatively, high-contrast black shelves against white provide a stylish, graphic look.

You also need to consider what you are going to place on it. A curated exhibition of minimalist sculptures or a colorful jumble of books? What other shades are there in the room that can go with them or collide with them?

Their shape also plays a role. Aside from the classic horizontal shelves, there are sloping and even expressive shelves like Kartell’s Bookworm, whose visually appealing spiral shape makes it the center of attention in a room.


What will the shelf hold? This will determine the type of assembly you would use.

For shelves designed to hold light items, consider the floating shelf.

The support bars are drilled into the shelf so you can’t see them. This method requires preparation. So inform your shelf manufacturer in advance if you plan to do this.

Another type uses external brackets, the most common of which are known as L-brackets.

These are above or below the shelf, and while they may not look as neat as a floating shelf, they can hold a lot more weight.

“Shelves that are deeper, for example 40 to 50 cm deep, and designed for heavier loads such as books, generally require external support structures,” said Loh.

For added security, Mr. Suresh recommends mounting shelves from both the top and the bottom.

Adding legs is another option if your shelf doesn’t need to be against the wall.

He added, “To avoid mistakes, it is important to properly measure your space before confirming the dimensions.”


If you are into custom shelving, a 10-12 week lead time is expected, Mr. Loh said.

For simpler options that you can set up in a day, you’ve come to the right place at Ikea. The modular shelving systems are flexible and easy to install with the right tools.

You can also turn to Ikea’s planning studio for expert advice. As a bonus, 70 percent of the materials used to make furniture come from recycled or renewable raw materials.

The Swedish furniture retailer plans to use 100 percent recycled or renewable raw materials by 2030.

This article was first published in Home & Decor Singapore (