If the Shelf Fits...

Vitsoe Shelving

Decent shelving makes the difference between a cluttered and messy looking house and a perfectly arranged home. And as well as its basic function as a place to put all your stuff, if done well, it can add character and style to a room.

One of the things I love about my job is seeing how people use items and space within their home to make it perfect for them. Whether it’s ten Billy Bookcases to house the accumulated affairs of a home office, or an antique, slightly rickety bookcase which has been passed down three generations, everyone has their own solution. Here are a few of my favourites:

The Design Classic

Vitsoe’s 606 Universal Shelving System was created in 1960 and has been manufactured and sold continuously ever since. It was loved so much by one client of mine that she installed the system in its various forms in her drawing room (as a bookcase), office (as desk, drawers and shelving) and kitchen (as both an additional work surface and as a storage unit). This is the beauty of Vitsoe; it’s a modular system that is adjustable and extendable dependant on needs. It’s not cheap (the smallest unit costs £155) but the simple and clean design has won numerous awards for design excellence, in keeping with the company philosophy of helping people ‘live better with less that lasts longer’. Vitsoe’s flagship store is on Duke Street, off Manchester Square in London.

Cheap and Cheerful

Ikea is the first place people think of when looking for an inexpensive storage option. Their Billy, Expedit and Lack ranges start at £10 and are the ones that you will see in the home of at least one of your friends or family members. Each range offers a whole host of storage options in a variety of veneers, one of which is sure to fit the bill.

If you have an hour to kill, and want to go REALLY cheap, then how about unleashing the amateur carpenter within? This video on www.instructables.com shows you how to make a pretty modern looking and very cheap shelving unit using MDF/plywood in the space of an hour. Good luck! If you have a garage, chances are there’s a bit of wood in there that fits the bill. If not, it can be easily picked up.


Find yourself a carpenter (like one of the ladies at www.home-jane.co.uk) who can create a built-in or freestanding unit to fit your exact requirements. Shameful admission: I watched Neighbours for the first time in years the other day (I was reliving my student days!) and I really like what Karl and Susan Kennedy have done with their square built-in bookcase.

Sometimes it’s quite obvious what would work in a certain part of the room in question, but you can be really creative when you have limited space or an awkward area to work with. I have seen ‘bookcases’ built into staircases, ceiling beams and made into hidden doorways. Thinking they wouldn’t move again, one client had a huge piece made-to-measure that covered the entire wall of one room in their old house, which miraculously fit (almost) perfectly in their new one. But that’s not always the case, and is something to think about if you’re investing a lot of money into something that might not go elsewhere.


They don’t make them like they used to! Whether it’s inherited or sourced from one of the many antique markets the UK has to offer, there’s nothing quite like a bit of antique furniture to add a some character to a room.