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You’ve considered built-ins. You’ve scrolled through pages of expensive bookcases. You’ve thought about DIY-ing modular cabinetry. But as some of our favorite spaces prove, sometimes the best option is the simplest. In this case, that would be utilitarian, garage-style shelving. 

You know the type: Wall-mounted laminate planks, frequently held together by the most basic of metal brackets. They don’t deserve to be relegated solely to car parking. Pick up a few at your local hardware shop or even the Container Store for a fraction of what a custom installation might cost, then spruce them up to your heart’s desire; the era of fussy organization is officially over. It’s a trick we first noticed in Great Jones founder Sierra Tishgart’s Manhattan apartment and have been spotting all over the place ever since—with so many different ways to customize them, these shelves make a convincing case for paring back. 

Go All the Way (Up)

Tishgart’s bookshelf situation immediately caught our eye because, well, it’s impossible for it not to—the thing is massive. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-mounted racks (which Tishgart’s designer, Jen Levy, scored for a great price at Home Depot) make an empty wall an instant eye-catcher. With each square filled with a unique colorful tchotchke or stack of books, the setup looks more like an art installation than a strictly functional storage unit. 

Douse Them in Color 

We found these vibrant fixtures in British brand L.F. Markey’s London retail space and instantly fell in love with the bold palette. This was a custom creation for the store, but you could easily upgrade your own metal shelves with a simple coat of paint (what else were you going to use those leftover sample pots for?). Leave the boards bare as the shop did here, or try your hand at color-blocking by giving the planks and frame different hues. 

Try Tonals 

Vintage shop owner Sarah Shabacon knows a thing or two about decorating with neutrals: Her Vancouver home is full of them. But when a color wheel’s worth of earthy shades are packed into a single vignette, the hues are nuanced, not one-note. The tonal menagerie of vintage pieces certainly helps mask the fact that they’re sitting on industrial shelving from IKEA

Whether you’re also sticking with brown or choosing a livelier treatment, these storage solutions definitely don’t belong with the snow shovels and garden tools anymore. 

See more storage ideas: The Organization Tricks That Bring Whimsy to Any Office Who Needs Cabinet Doors When a Simple Piece of Fabric Will Do? 5 Chic Shelving Units That Don’t Require a Single Tool to Assemble