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Putting up shelves? Here's what you need to know

These tips will help you choose the right shelf to place in the right spot and have it installed the right way

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MELODY BAY on 09 Apr 2021

The New Paper

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Is there ever such a thing as enough shelving?

 

Our storage needs vary during different life stages. We may need shelf space to display travel mementos one year, and then fill that same space with children's books the next.

 

With such changing needs - not to mention our evolving taste in decor - it is little wonder that putting up shelves is one of the top DIY projects.

 

While the choices may seem fairly straightforward, there are a few considerations to note if you want your shelves to last a long time.

 

THE PLACEMENT

 

Before you buy a shelf, consider where you are placing it. Is it outdoors or indoors?

 

If it is an outdoor shelf for the balcony or somewhere that is exposed to plenty of heat and humidity, your best bet is galvanised steel, according to Mr Sujal Suresh, a product and computational designer at local design firm Custo.

 

If you insist on wood, opt for a solid example like teak as its natural oils offer some protection from wear and tear. A protective coating is still required to keep it in peak condition.

 

When it comes to indoor shelves, you have a wider range of options.

 

Mr Darryl Loh, CEO and founder of custom wood furniture maker Table Guy, advises home owners to check the type of wall they are planning to mount them on first.

 

Heavier shelves made of solid wood or plywood need to be mounted on a concrete wall that can hold their weight.

 

For bathrooms, wood is a no-no.

 

"We strongly advise against using solid wood in spaces that contain high humidity and have weak ventilation," he said.

 

Instead, go for plastic shelves that are lightweight and do not warp as easily.

 

Ms April Kwan, communication and interior design manager from Ikea, said: "Recycled plastic has many benefits. It's strong, durable, lightweight, versatile and easy to maintain. However, I know many will frown at the word 'plastic'. You can always look for other sustainable alternatives."

 

THE LOOK

 

These days, shelf colours run from neon hues to light oak.

 

Since they are usually placed at mid-level or high on a wall, shelves occupy essential visual space and alter a room's entire look.

 

A safe bet is to match their shade to your walls. Alternatively, high contrast black shelves against white are a stylish, graphic look.

 

You also need to consider what you will place on them. A curated display of minimalist sculptures or a colourful jumble of books? Also, what other shades are there in the room that may match or clash with them?

 

Their shape matters as well. Apart from the classic horizontal shelves, there are slanted and even statement ones like Kartell's Bookworm, whose visually arresting spiral shape makes it the centre of attention in a room.

 

THE FUNCTION

 

What is the shelf going to hold? This will determine the type of mounting you would use.

 

For shelves intended to support lightweight items, consider the floating shelf.

 

Its supporting rods are drilled into the shelf so you will not see them. This method requires preparation, so do inform your shelf-maker in advance if you plan to go for this.

 

Another type uses external brackets, the most common of which are known as L-brackets.

 

These go above or below the shelf, and while they may not look as neat as a floating shelf, they can support much more weight.

 

"Shelving that is deeper, say with a depth of 40cm to 50cm, and intended for heavier loads like books, generally require external support structures," said Mr Loh.

 

For added security, Mr Suresh recommends mounting shelves from both the top and bottom.

 

Adding legs is another option if your shelf does not have to be on the wall.

 

He added: "To avoid mistakes, it is important to measure your space properly before you confirm the dimensions."

 

LEAD TIME

 

If you are looking at custom shelving, a lead time of 10-12 weeks is expected, said Mr Loh.

 

For simpler options that you can set up within a day, look no further than Ikea. Its modular shelving systems are flexible and easily installed with the right tools.

 

You can also consult Ikea's Planning Studio for expert advice. As a bonus, 70 per cent of the materials it uses to make furniture are from recycled or renewable materials.

 

The Swedish furniture retailer plans to go with 100 per cent recycled or renewable materials by 2030.

 

Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

 

 

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