Long Floating Shelves: Design Guide

Installing long floating shelves in your home is a great way to add style while also providing valuable storage space for decorations, collections, and other small knickknacks! Shelves can also be an easy DIY project that will allow you to get creative and customize your shelves to fit exactly where you want them. In this blog post, I will guide you through everything from designing your unique shelves to getting them decorated with your favorite home decor items. Of course, as I always do I will also be showing examples of some of my favorite floating shelf design ideas to help inspire you as you get started creating your very own perfect shelving system!

Designing Your Long Floating Shelves

Before you start designing and thinking about your long floating shelves, you need to have a clear idea of their intended use and where in your home the shelves will be installed. Knowing this information will guide you as you design your shelves.

There are several important factors to consider when designing your shelves, including their size, shape, material, color and location each of which are discussed below.

Long Floating Shelves Graphic

Floating Shelf Size

The first thing you need to consider is the size of your shelves. Measure the space where you want to install the shelves and decide how many shelves you want. Make sure to choose a size that will fit all the items you want to display. The length of your shelf is a design element by itself. One long shelf in a space will have an entirely different look and feel in a space than multiple smaller shelves.

Long Floating Shelves Shape

The shape of your long shelves are a vital part of your shelf design. Do you want a chunky wood shelf? Are you looking for a slim and modern shelf?  The shape of the shelf is the first thing people notice when they first see the shelves. It’s important they make a statement and getting the shape right is an important step in that direction.

Floating Shelf Material

Floating shelves can be made from a range of materials, such as wood, glass, metal, or even plastic. Consider the material that best suits your room’s decor and the weight of the items you want to display. By far the most popular long floating shelf option is wood and that is what I focus on in this blog post. Even with wood, there are still decisions to be made. Do you want that classic farmhouse, then you may want to choose a reclaimed wood. Are you planning on painting them, then it might be more cost-effective to use particle board or some other form of cheap lumber.


The color of your long shelves is another important factor to consider while in the design phase of your project. Most shelves are made of wood so here are some design tips to consider when matching different wood patterns in your home.

Choose a Dominant Wood

When mixing different wood styles, it’s important to choose a dominant wood that will set the tone for the entire space. This dominant wood will be the main focal point and will guide the rest of the design decisions. For example, if you have a dark walnut dining table, you may want to choose long shelf pieces that complement the table’s color and texture. Going with a pine wood here might not make the most sense.

Use Contrasting Colors

Mixing different wood styles doesn’t mean you have to match everything perfectly. In fact, using contrasting colors can create a more interesting and dynamic look. For example, pairing light-colored oak floors with a medium stained long shelf can create a striking contrast that adds visual interest and appeal to the room. Mixing woods is one of my favorite home decor tips and is something I do often in my own home.

Consider Texture

The texture of the wood is just as important as the color when it comes to matching different wood styles. If you have a rough-textured reclaimed wood coffee table, you may want to pair it with shelves that are as equally rough-textured to provide that cohesive look throughout your home.

Use Accessories to Tie Everything Together

If you’re having trouble matching different wood styles, you can use home decor accessories to tie everything together. For example, if you have a mix of oak and maple furniture in a room, you can use decorative accessories like throw pillows, curtains, or an area rug to bring all the different design elements together. I already have compiled an amazing shelf decorating guide you can use to assist you as you decorate your shelves.

Stick to a consistent style

Regardless of the various wood types you combine, it’s essential to maintain a unified design style throughout your room. For instance, if you have installed a modern-style dining table in the space, consider complementing furniture pieces with a similar design aesthetic. Your goal is to develop a cohesive look in the space and this idea can help you achieve that.


The location of your long floating shelves is also an important factor to consider. Consider the room’s layout and light, as well as any potential obstructions that may impact the shelf’s appearance or functionality. Another thing to think about is the usability of the floating shelf, do you plan on using it for kitchen storage? If so you will probably want the shelves in or near the kitchen. Do you plan on using the shelves for purely decorative items? If so then a spot right at eye level on the wall might be best.

Long Floating Shelf Design Ideas 

Here are 9 of my personal favorite floating shelf design ideas. Some I have used before others I am saving in my back pocket for my forever home.

Long Floating Shelf for Book Storage

The installation of long floating shelves in your home is a great way to store your books. If you are a book lover like myself and struggle with finding a place to store your favorites these long shelves are perfect for displaying and storing rows and rows of your favorite books. These shelves are a great alternative to crowded traditional bookshelves.

Staggered Floating Shelf 

You can also get creative with your long floating shelf layout. A staggered floating shelf pattern is a great idea and adds an interesting look to the space. You can customize the shelves by adding different sized shelves in varying lengths, creating a unique and eye-catching way to display your favorite decor. items

Bar Floating Shelf

Adding shelves can also be a practical choice. In this application the shelves are perfect for storing your favorite liquor bottles and glasses. Long Floating Shelves can create an inviting and stylish look in any room while also being very practical, making them the perfect choice when setting up your home bar. This would also be a great organizing solution for a home coffee station as well.

Home Office Long Floating Shelf

This home office has plenty of storage for office supplies and home decor items. This really long floating shelf goes wall to wall and looks great in this space. This design could easily be incorporated into a bedroom (or any room of your house) if you don’t have a home office.

Chunky Wood Floating Shelf Idea

Rustic looking floating shelves in a farmhouse kitchen. The shelves match the oven hood exactly.
Via Lewis Builders

Chunky wood shelves are a great way to bring some texture and warmth into your home. This chunky wood floating shelf is a great way to add visual interest to your kitchen. Long floating shelves can also be used to store and organize your kitchen items like this homeowner who stores their dishware on this shelf.

Corner Floating Shelves

Don’t forget about the corners of your room. Long floating shelves can easily fit perfectly into an empty corner and provide extra storage for displaying items or simply storing away items you want to show off. Corner shelves are also a great space saving idea as well, corners are often hard to reach and are way under utilized in most kitchens..

Under Cabinets Floating Shelves

Under cabinet storage in a small bathroom.

These long shelves are built in underneath the bathroom vanity. The longer shelf design allows you to take full advantage of the horizontal space and gives you plenty of room for storing items like towels and other bathroom necessities.

Floating Box Shelves

Box Shelving in a home office with a gray sofa and huge floor-to-ceiling windows.
Via Surfcoast Property Stylist

This shelving idea is a unique spin on the old classic floating shelf design. These box shelves double your storage space and are a great look for any space in your home. These shelves make for an easy DIY project. I DIY’ed a floating nightstand that was similar to this and is worth checking out if you are interested in this floating shelf idea.

DIY Floating Shelves

In my previous home, I had this small wall in the living room that I could never figure out what to do with. I had a small piece of art hanging there for a long time but I knew I wanted a statement piece there. I came up with the idea of adding these small DIY floating shelves there and ran with it. We used a kit since adding traditional shelves would have put too many holes in the wall and we knew we would be moving within a short time after installing them. These shelves ended up being a great spot to store some of my favorite pottery pieces as well as adding in some favorite family photos.

Closing up

Floating shelves are a beautiful addition to any home. With a little creativity, you can design and build your own custom shelves that are both functional and stylish. Whether you’re looking for extra storage space or just want to display your favorite items, these shelves are a great option. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can create beautiful and functional shelves that are sure to impress.

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