Published on January 8, 2016

If you don’t own your apartment, custom shelving probably isn’t in the cards (unless, of course, it was already in your home when you moved in!). Luckily, there are lots of alternatives—like products and simple DIYs that can easily help you fake a custom unit. With a bit of elbow grease and lots of imagination, your friends will be asking for tips in no time. 

diy corner shelving

An easy way to fake out-of-the-box shelving is to add a few floating shelves to your corner. Make them yourself or simply hang two individual shelves on alternating walls for a similar look.

alternating corner shelves

Instead of placing individual shelves together, stagger them for a more vintage feel.

closet shelving

Everyone dreams of a huge, customized, walk-in closet. In the meantime, work with what you have by installing a bookshelf for folding clothes (or shoes!) and two closet rods on either side for faux customization—and extra storage.

wall-to-wall bookshelves

Take a page from the Man Repeller’s newly redesigned office and steal her bookcase that spans almost the entire length of the wall. The white on white metal frame blends into the white wall and is a lighter, more modern take on a full custom shelving unit.

honeycomb shelves

If plain horizontal shelves are boring you, consider hanging multiple hexagon-shaped shelves together. This design will ultimately create a stunning honeycomb effect. Power tool enthusiasts can DIY their own—or buy from a variety of vendors.

your own custom desk shelving

Customize your own desk unit with a DIY by Old Brand New. Think of it as straightforward custom shelving on a budget.

an under the stairs unit

Most people assume that oddly-shaped spaces require custom—and expensive—shelving. But not so fast. Instead of building a truly customizable unit for under your stairs, opt for this bookshelf from Trilogy.

closet nook

If you have too many shoes and accessories for floating shelves, consider one or more Billy bookcases from Ikea. Shimmy them into a nook and they’ll look like a custom wardrobe.

vanity replacement

Hanging a million small floating shelves can feel daunting. Get 7 shelves for the hassle of one with Ikea’s Lack shelf unit. Hang next to your mirror for a convenient standing vanity.

bench shelving

Fake a low bench unit by simply lining up short shelves. Hang art, floating shelves, or hooks above for added utility. If the bookcases feel sturdy enough, cover the tops with cushions and invite guests to sit!

above your radiator

Make the most of your radiator by fashioning a fake, table-esque custom unit above for a convenient shelf. Just make sure it’s safe when your radiator gets super hot in the winter months.

floating shelves above cabinets

Hang floating shelves above a cabinet for a custom feel. If you already have a cabinet and a nook, slide a few standard-sized shelves right in. If your nook—or cabinet—is an irregular width, DIY custom shelves to the appropriate length and enjoy your new decoration (and storage!) opportunity.

against exposed brick

Hang your unit (or DIY your own brackets and shelves) all the way up your exposed brick wall to create a vintage library. (Nervous about nailing into exposed brick? We’ve got you covered.)

entryway nook

It feels like every home has an annoying little space where we all end up dumping shoes, bags, and more to create a messy corner. Instead of letting your nook collect your clutter, hang floating shelves and make it an organized, decorative space.

commit to DIY-ing your own custom shelves

The cool part of custom shelving units is that usually you’re paying someone else to create a built-in, beautiful structure for your stuff. Most fake custom shelves simply mimic built-in units, but if you’re a DIY expert and are feeling up to the challenge, it is possible to make your own. All it takes is a few power tools, multiple bookcases, crown molding, and a vision. Follow these three brave DIY-ers for full instructions—and inspiration—starting with Shirley & Chris.

Find out how Kate Riley of Centsational Girl pulled off this impressive unit.

And finally, we feel like Shayna’s kitchen was meant to have these beautiful custom shelves.

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