Everyday Things You Didn’t Know Could Be Shelves

Gone are the days when a shelf was just a shelf. Now almost anything can be a shelf—as long as at least part of it is flat. We’ve collected some of the most interesting things that can be turned into useful storage and unusual décor.


There are a surprising number of ways to style books as shelves. The simplest option is to use an old book (one you don’t mind damaging) and add brackets to mount it as a wall shelf. There are even DIY project that show you how to mount them as floating shelves without brackets.

For a more interesting take, you can use one of the techniques above, but lift the top cover and a few pages to stand vertically. That way, you get an unusual background to offset whatever décor you choose to display on your DIY shelf.


Using ladders as shelves has become popular enough that you can actually buy ladder-shelving in stores. But you don’t have to buy something new to get the same look. Repurpose an actual ladder into shelving by simply disconnecting the sides of the ladder and adding shelf platforms to the rungs.


Nothing adds a rustic feel like apple crates. Attach the bottom of the crate to the wall so the open top of the crate faces outward into the room. You can even stack them for a more dramatic effect.

Baskets or Boxes

You can use the same principle to turn sturdy baskets or wooden boxes into floating shelves. Metal baskets are also an option if you prefer a more industrial feel.


These can make very interesting shelving in a couple of different ways. Turn the drawer however you like, depending on its shape and size, and attach the bottom as above.

A long skinny drawer could make a long horizontal shelf or a dramatic vertical one. A large drawer could even serve as a second frame for artwork, complemented by a few well-chosen pieces sitting below on the shelf.

You could even cut off the front and several inches back, fill it in or top it with a piece of wood, and attach it with the front of the drawer facing out.

The Fronts of Other Unusual Objects

The objects themselves may not be unusual, but they certainly make unusual shelves. DIY-ers have cut off the fronts of coffee tables and suitcases to attach to a wall as shelving. In the case of coffee tables, you can stack different ones together to create a unique and whimsical gallery wall.

And Much More

To create your own custom shelves, simply add brackets to a flat object. You could use a sheet of glass, an old shutter, a repurposed cabinet door, a wooden tray (complete with handles), an old cutting board, a slab of marble, or a simple piece of wood. The brackets can be interesting too, like cast iron or painted corbels.

The only limit is your imagination—and maybe your DIY skills.

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