Published on August 3, 2019

The billions of screws, the too-vague instruction manuals, the occasional power tool—ah, the lengths we’re willing to go to have beautiful shelving. We just want a place to store our books and vases, but between the hours spent agonizing over which bolt goes where and why the top shelf looks lopsided, what we’re really left with (at least, in the short term) is one big headache. Fortunately, a few savvy furniture designers have decided to take the tools out of the equation. 

Ever played with Lincoln Logs as a kid? These five easy-to-assemble shelves are kind of like that: They layer, snap, and stay in place all without the help of a single screwdriver. If you’re still looking for a spot to house your ever-growing pile of summer reads, skip the IKEA brainteasers and opt for one of these genius units instead. 

The Therapeutic One 

Brooklyn-based Studio Snng’s made-to-order Wedge Shelf features a series of interlocking ledges and pegs (in your choice of ash, white oak, or walnut) that can be configured in multiple ways. With absolutely zero hardware to slow you down, you might find the process of stacking each piece on top of the next, dare we say it, soothing. 

The One With Extra Storage

There aren’t any unsightly nuts or bolts getting in the way of this unit’s elegant design. Its slim birch-plywood planks extend beyond the vertical sides, giving you the perfect perch to display a small succulent or even attach a clamp lamp. 

The Supersize One

If you want the look of custom built-ins without the pain of drilling lots of holes into your walls, Hay’s Woody shelf offers the best of both worlds. Psst: Because the piece doesn’t feature fronts or backs (it’s just the wood frame and bent steel planks!), it can also be used as a divider in an open room. 

The One That’s All Yours

Doors or no doors; legs or no legs; color or no color—there are more than 40 modules and 24 hues to choose from in Cubit’s custom slot-in shelving system. Our advice? First, figure out the kinds of items you want to store—Do you have a ton of ceramics you to show off? Old DVDs you’re trying to hide?—and go from there.

The $25 One

Scrap the sad metal utility unit you’re using as a makeshift pantry and line up your latest farmers’ market finds on this colorful, ultra-affordable option. Just align the poles, feet, and boards and turn the dowels clockwise to tighten.

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