There is a running joke (hilarious!) in the office that I have a weird thing for shelves. And why not? Set aside the predictable—books and bookends mixed in with $50 objects designed to look nice and that’s about it—and consider the functional instead: A shelf is all possibility. It can be secured at any height and many depths, from low and deep to shoulder-height and just wide enough to hold a tin of cinnamon, and is so utilitarian that it really can do—or, rather, be—anything. Hear that? This is a practical obsession! I am definitely not writing this article to justify my shelf fetish to our editorial team. Consider that we all live in small apartments, wherein every piece of furniture has to be able to do about 100 things before it can justify a single square foot of floor space. A shelf, either inexpensively wall-mounted or part of a bookcase you already own, is basically a freebie; use it instead of trying to fit in a desk, or a bar cart, or instead of whining about the fact that the apartment doesn’t have a pantry. Here are our favorite super-functional, unexpected ways to use a shelf.
Pantry or Spice Rack
Peek at the next IKEA or Container Store catalog you receive and you’ll realize that open shelves can make for excellent pantries. You’ll definitely have to invest in some nice containers to make this work, but just look at how easy it is to see what’s ready for a re-stock!
Bar Cart Sans Cart
Need somewhere to store your speakers, Apple TV, cable box, and WiFi router but aren’t really excited in investing in a big fancy console? Enter a few shelves, mix in some art amongst the electronics, and check that box.