About small decorative shelving

Written by meg mackenzie
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About small decorative shelving
Small decorative shelves are a prominent place to display your photos. (Bildramen image by vintsik from Fotolia.com)

While most shelving is used for organisation and storage, small decorative shelving is meant for display. Small decorative shelves are an easy and prominent way to show off your photos or trinkets, and there are many styles to choose from.


Like the mantle above a fireplace, decorative shelves draw attention to themselves and what they display. Pictures, candles, holiday decorations or collectable trinkets all receive the attention they deserve when displayed on a well-placed small decorative shelf. If you have an empty space on the wall, or an odd niche in a corner, a small decorative shelf can be a creative and versatile alternative to a photo frame or piece of art.


Most decorative shelves are made of wood or glass. Wood shelves can come painted or with a natural finish. Retailers often sell small, decorative glass shelves in the bathroom department, as this is where they are most commonly hung, although they can be displayed anywhere in the house.

Small decorative shelves range in length from 6 to 24 inches, so there is sure to be one that fits your empty space. Height and depth vary greatly by shelf length and style, but will be clearly indicated on the packaging, as will the amount of weight the shelf can support. Make sure your shelf is deep enough, and sturdy enough, to accommodate whatever you want to display.


Small decorative shelving comes in every style, from chunky and rustic to delicate and detailed. While most small shelves are simple ledges, some are square or round and form frames around the objects they display; some even piece together with complementary frame-like shelves to create a sort of collage that hangs three-dimensionally on the wall.

Corner Shelves

Corners or small niches can be some of the hardest places to decorate, and small decorative shelves built for corners are a great option. Although it is not the only style, in most corner shelves, two sides form a 90-degree angle, while the side facing outward is rounded. Buying several, in descending sizes, and climbing them up a corner brings sophistication to an otherwise dreary and ignored section of space.

How to Buy

Conveniently, small decorative shelves are often sold in sets that include several different lengths in the same style. Most commonly there are three or four shelves per set, which run between 6 and 24 inches long. Buying several shelves in the same style allows you to stagger them to fit your empty space, where one small shelf might have seemed out of place. However, if you prefer, small decorative shelves are also sold individually.


Floating shelves, hung on screws with no brackets showing, are common in small decorative shelving, though more traditional styles do have brackets that both support the shelf and add to its style. Most small shelves come with the hardware needed to hang them, although be sure to check the packaging. A level, screwdriver or drill and stud finder are the only tools you'll need to hang your shelf. Depending on what you choose to display, even small shelves can get pretty heavy, so make sure you screw into a wall stud or use a molly bolt so your shelf is safe and well supported.

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