The home office is the organization hub for life and business. While the kitchen is a central space for togetherness, nourishment, and gathering, the home office helps keep life running smoothly.
So, how can a personalized office space be the most efficient, organized, and visually pleasing? It’s time to consider built-in shelving options that will endure all organizational needs, provide storage, and keep sight lines beautifully clear.
Don’t get overwhelmed, including additional shelving and storage won’t be hard for your builder at all. In fact, some of these options can be installed by the homeowner post construction. That said, check out our robust guide on built-in shelving options for the ultimate home office.
Simple or Sophisticated Shelving? Where to Begin?
Before diving into shelving trends and design styles, it’s important to nail down the size and ample storage areas in the home office. Whether the home office is spacious with its own ensuite bathroom, a private entryway to an outdoor space or a cozy nook in a multi-purpose room, any size space benefits from built-in shelving.
Keep these numbers handy: standard height for cabinet shelves tops off at 83 inches and standard depth is no more than 12 inches. And if you’re aiming to have shelves specifically for books, the spacing between bookshelves should be between 9 and 12 inches.
And, if are leaning toward built-in wall shelves, the lowest shelf should start at 3 to 4 inches and the highest height should be 72 to 78 inches. The recommended shelf spacing for this unit style is 7 to 15 inches.
After locking down the size and specs of the area, determine how much shelving you need to finalize a budget for materials and installation. With this in mind, it’s important to consider other options that will elevate built-in shelves such as lighting, cabinetry, and outlets.
Built-in Shelving Options
Homeowners will discover that shelving options come in a variety of sizes, specs, and materials. Most commonly, shelves are constructed of wood, metal, glass, and even stone like terrazzo or granite. But you can broaden your scope to bamboo, lucite, or concrete.
Below are the top-tier shelving options for the home office.
A classic and universal look, built-in bookshelves commonly decorate many home offices, dens, study spaces, and living rooms. Most likely, homeowners will opt to build in custom bookshelves above cabinet spaces for additional storage for items that don’t require daily use. Built-in bookshelves can be completely customized to an individual’s styles and needed. Cabinets can include shelving, as well as drawers and cubbies.
Bow Window with Seating
Bow windows, large paneled corner windows, offer loads of natural light, seating, and opportunities for shelving. Under the bow window is prime real estate: a space for seating with hidden cabinets and shelves. And bracketing each side of the bow window is another chance to design custom built-in shelves. Note, depending on the height of the window, it’s even possible to curate shelves and cubby holes above the bow window.
Turn underused areas into extra shelving spaces, especially if the home office is located in a multi-purpose. A half-wall can contain built-in shelving near desks and reading nooks for extra storage, books, printers and other essential office supplies.
If you prefer to showcase your books, decorative objects, plants, and art pieces, consider floor-to-ceiling shelves. Forgo cabinets and keep everything on display. For items that might not be aesthetically pleasing or must be boxed away, add in a handful of decorative bins for items like copies of documents, file folders, cords, and other materials that must be preserved.
Like a bustling mailroom, adding one row of shelving that holds both envelope and soft packages in a built-in bookshelf is clever and a major space saver. While these cubbies are more of add-on or a bonus space for built-ins, they are ideal ways to optimize storage smartly.
Similar to floor-to-ceiling shelves, wall-to-wall shelving encompasses all or nearly most of the free wall space in an office. This is a particularly efficient design style if the room layout already includes built-in furniture such as a desk, bay window seating, islands, recessed and spot lighting.
Creative Ways to Level up Built-in Shelving
Now that the space and shelving units have been formalized, there’s still an added value to be mixed in. From cubbies and drawers to classic shelves and cabinet doors, there’s more to add.
Homeowners can work smarter, not harder, to maximize office space by making built-in shelves more intuitive and user friendly. Homeowners should consider installing under-shelf lighting for added illumination and spotlights to create larger areas of light around a shelf area or object. Under-shelf lighting can be switch powered, motion sensored, and even smart controlled.
Another simple but clever touch includes outlets for charging tucked away electronics and powering tabletop lamps that reside on a shelf.
Stephanie Valente is a Content Director and Editor in Brooklyn, NY. She’s previously held writing and social media positions at Barkbox, Men’s Journal, and currently works at a full-service advertising agency. She’s a self-confessed home and design enthusiast. Stephanie is an award-winning poet and fiction writer. When she’s offline, you can find her taking a yoga class, running, hanging out with her rescue dog Pepper. Find her on stephanievalente.com.