The magic behind floating shelves
Learn about floating shelf systems and gather ideas on how to create your own
By Gareth Greathead
The floating shelf is thus named due to fact that it is suspended with no visible mounting points or supports. Popularity of the floating shelf is accelerating during our current minimalist era, where sharp lines and clean design dominate.
No matter the shelf or the material used, the concept stays the same. The bracket of the floating shelf is integrated within the shelf design. It could be in the form of an exterior surround or a bracket anchored to the fixing point that accepts the shelf into which it is slotted. Alternatively, the trickery can be completely hidden from sight by creating a male bracket onto which the other component of the shelf fits. There are many ways of achieving the same objective, but, importantly, your design will hinge on the load-bearing capacity required. The design will also depend on the theme you are trying to continue in your home. Floating shelves aren’t just for Apple junkies, they can just as easily complement the classic style found in old and new homes alike. Like classical music, classic architecture and accessories never lose their appeal.
Where can I use floating shelves?
Floating shelves can be used throughout the home to house decorative pieces, books, televisions as well as kitchen and bathroom consumables and so much more. Your selection of timber, laminate, glass, aluminium or even dyed Perspex or resin and an infinite variety of alternative materials adds another dimension. Selecting a floating shelf mounted into a surround crafted from exotic timber with routed edges results in a usable shelf to complement a classic theme. Both young and old appreciate the rustic look, the wood is cheap and, if finished correctly, it creates a sturdy and unique look not found in commercially available products.
Glass is a popular feature in modern homes, in keeping with the minimalist tradition. Some houses are made almost exclusively from glass. Laminated surfaces boasting clean and sharp edges are sure to command the attention of the minimalist. Hipsters may appreciate a chunky translucent red resin composite to complement their funky style.
Utilise dead space
Designers will tell you that the way you utilise a corner space can make a room. A corner provides a space in which to create a focal point out of a purely functional component of architecture. Even a minimalist will appreciate this theory and its application can provide a welcome break to a home that has become cold and clinical. All homeowners have the opportunity to make use of dead space and add some character to a room at the same time. It is worthwhile mentioning that a floating shelf fitted in a corner is supported on two sides, allowing it to support greater weight.
Floating shelves need not be complicated to be effective and creativity goes a long way. The floating shelves shown on the right were made using a length of aluminium U-channel and several pieces of 10mm glass ordered from a specialist glass-cutting facility. The U-channel was fixed
to the wall using ordinary wall plugs and the shelves were slotted into it and glued with silicone.