Getting to Know Your Vintage Shelving Options
Can storage really look stylish? With the right vintage shelving - yes! Whether you opt for individual wall-mounted shelves or a whole unit, shelving helps you organize and display all the objects and oddities you’ve amassed over the years or the collection of books currently piled in stacks on the floor.
From wood to steel to glass, from sleek and minimal to elaborate and ornate, we’ve got all types of used shelves to maximize your space in the most efficient and elegant way.
Types of Shelving
Bookcase: A design staple that fits seamlessly in any room, a vintage bookcase can be found in most homes. Found in all shapes and sizes from tall to squat, these ultra-versatile shelving units typically have solid backs, but this isn’t always the case. Some feature long shelves, others have square cubbies.
Because a bookcase is freestanding, it can serve as the perfect divider, adding eye-catching color and character while breaking up a room into smaller spaces. Work in your studio/office on one side and relax in a living area on the other. Or position an antique bookcase behind your bed for a visually intriguing headboard that keeps your favorite novels in easy reach.
Étagère: Resembling a bookcase without a back panel, an étagère has a thin frame with sturdy shelves. The airier feel of a secondhand étagère helps open up your space and offers just as much storage as a common bookcase.
Larger étagères are ideal for storing linens and dinnerware in the dining room or books, blankets and attractive trinkets in the living room or bedroom. Get a smaller used one to house extra supplies in a home office or bathroom.
Credenza: A cabinet with a long flat top and ample storage space hidden by sliding doors, the credenza gained popularity with the resurgence of mid-century modern, though you can find vintage credenzas in a variety of styles. Place a turntable and speakers on top and store records below. Or display a tray of beautiful liquor bottles while keeping barware dust-free on the unseen shelves.
Because credenzas are short and low to the ground, you can place one under a window or use the space above it to hang art. Adding a hutch on top is an easy and appealing way to affix even more shelves.
Wall-Mounted Shelving: When you want to optimally utilize a small amount of space, go for vertical storage with wall-mounted shelves and leave the floor free. Choose floating shelves or ones with visible brackets for a different look. Try a modular unit for a dose of minimalist modernism. Or go industrial with a vintage unit in steel or iron.
Corner Shelves: Another major space-saver is an antique corner shelf, either wall-mounted or freestanding. With a 90 degree angle that nestles into a corner, it provides storage and decoration in what can easily be wasted space.
How to Style Your Shelves
Proper styling keeps everything on your secondhand bookcase or étagère pulled together but still attention-grabbing. Before arranging your objets, get rid of anything that does not perform a useful function or bring you any joy. Then fill boxes or bins with items you’d like to keep hidden, placing the larger ones on the bottom shelves. Smaller storage containers like magazine files can go up top. Consider buying boxes and files in the same color to keep the look harmonious.
Next, stack books on the shelves both horizontally and vertically. Unless you are color-coding them, mix up the colors to avoid placing all your dark-hued books in one section and all the lighter ones in another.
Show your personality with artwork that resonates with you. Lean frames, prints or photos against the back panel to create a sense of depth.
Finally, scatter all your pretty little things throughout the shelves. This means sculptures, bowls, vases, tiny lamps or terrariums filled with succulents or air plants. Shake up the sizes, textures and patterns but try to stay within a common color palette to keep everything looking balanced instead of cluttered. And remember that empty space is valuable too, helping to provide some breathing room among all your treasures.