House Grail is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

14 Basement Shelving Ideas & Design Tips



Basements are often characterized by their gloominess. They’re where we keep things that we don’t necessarily need every day – like Christmas decorations or keepsakes. However, your basement can also be a peaceful getaway. Just because basements are often underground and lacking in natural light doesn’t mean we can’t spruce them up a bit while still storing all of our extra stuff.

In this article, we’ll go over some actionable design tips to help you bring your basement to life while also storing all the extras.divider 4

1. Brighten Up Your Basement

It doesn’t take that much work to spruce up a basement. The main problem with basements is that they don’t have windows. And, if they do, they are minimal. If you happen to have any windows in your basement, take full advantage of them. Don’t cover them up with curtains. Let them bring in as much natural light as possible.

Windows can easily make your basement look like just another room in your home – not a dungeon.

2. Store Your Wine

Basements are naturally the perfect place for storing wine, thanks to their usually cool climate. If you have a kitchen in your basement, you can easily add a wine cabinet as well. Even if you don’t, a wine cellar is a reliable option for most basements.

Of course, this is only applicable if you like wine. While wine cellars are an increasingly popular option, they aren’t a “must-have.”

3. Use Entertainment Centers

While you can add shelves into your basement and call it a day, this doesn’t make your room very welcoming. You probably won’t want to be spending much time in a storage room. However, even if you want your basement to be a live-in space, you will need to get creative with your storage solutions.

One easy way to do this is with an entertainment center. Entertainment centers are a normal part of most living rooms so that it won’t look out of the ordinary in a basement. Get one with cabinets, and you can easily hide what you’re storing.

4. Utilize Your Stair Space

All basements have stairs; that’s just a normal part of basements. Stairs can take up quite a bit of space. For this reason, we do recommend using the space underneath the stairs if possible. Most people do this by making the space a closet or installing cabinets into it. This is a suitable option if you’re concerned about storage.

However, you can also clear out the space underneath the stairs and use it for a seating room. This will open up your basement slightly, which may be vital if your basement is very tiny.

5. Adapt Shelving to Fit Your Space

You are never going to get maximum storage by using pre-fab shelving. The companies that make the shelving don’t know what your home looks like and won’t match the shelving perfectly to your space. Instead, you need to adjust the shelving to fit correctly into your home and utilize as much space as possible.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to build your shelves from scratch. However, you may need to adapt any pre-fabricated shelves to your particular space.

6. Made Shelving a Design Piece

You can make your shelving system part of the design. Use aesthetically-pleasing cabinets with baskets that you like for storing smaller items. You can even store your Christmas decorations in big, lovely baskets inside the cabinets, depending on how much room you have.

In other words, make the shelving look nice! It doesn’t have to take away from the surrounding space automatically. Instead, the cabinets can easily make the space look a bit nicer. You’re going to add storage and shelving anyway, so it might as well look the part.

7. Use Built-In Shelves

To maximize your space, use built-in shelves if possible. Shelves can take up a lot of floor space. This is never a good thing, especially if you want to use your basement for more than storage. By building them into the wall, you can save some room. Plus, built-in shelves can look very aesthetically pleasing as well.

There are tons of designs out there. Bookshelf-style is the most common, but you can genuinely make the shelves whatever shape you need to.

8. Less is Often Better

If you’re using a particular area in your basement for storage, less is often the better option. Don’t fill up the basement with as many shelves as you can, even if it theoretically means you can fit more stuff. You don’t want your basement to be cluttered or to lose your belongings in a maze of stuff.

Leave plenty of space between each shelf, and don’t pack them as absolutely full as you can. It’ll make it easier to find things in the long run. Furthermore, either use unique containers or label them. You don’t want to be pulling everything off the shelf to find your long-lost crockpot.

9. You Don’t Have to Get Fancy

Sometimes, bare wooden shelves are just the way to go. You can quickly build bare wooden shelves out of wood if you have a bit of DIY know-how. Plus, you can build the shelves to make exactly what your space needs. If you have particular containers you’re using, you can build the shelves to hold those containers correctly. If your basement is oddly-shaped, you can make the shelves fit a bit easier.

Plus, if you want to get fancy, you can paint the shelves or otherwise spruce them up. Sometimes, it just takes a little bit of work for the shelving to look professionally made.

10. Warm Up the Space

Use wooden accents or even whole wooden cabinets to warm-up space. Basements often feel cold and damp. Some warmer colors – like browns – can help remove some of that cold, damp feeling. Plus, the cabinets can store away your stuff out of sight while also being essential design pieces.

Add rugs and even tapestries as needed. Once again, warm colors should be your go-to here. While a white, modern style may work in the rest of the house, it can just seem hospital-like and cold in a basement.

11. Organize Your Shelves

Great, you’ve gotten some shelves. That does not mean you can throw everything onto a shelf and call it a day. You will also need to keep the surface of your shelf at least somewhat organized. Otherwise, the shelves aren’t going to look nice – no matter how nice the actual shelf is.

You may want to get baskets and storage containers to keep everything in the correct place. We also recommend using labels whenever necessary. They can take away a lot of the look-and-find you’ll go through when attempting to find something.

12. Try Kitchen-Style

Kitchen-style cabinets and shelving can look very lovely in a basement. If you’re using some of your basement as a kitchen, then kitchen-style cabinets are the way to go. Of course, you don’t want to go overboard. Otherwise, your basement may look like a cafeteria before too long.

Another reliable option is to just add-on to a bar or kitchen you already have in your basement. You can use the extra cabinets to store whatever you need, but it’ll look like part of the kitchen.

13. Consider How Much Shelving You Actually Need

Oftentimes, people will overestimate how much shelving they actually need. Once all your stuff is properly organized into containers, you’ll be surprised by how little room you require. While there is nothing wrong with having too much room, you may want to organize your stuff together before deciding on the number of cabinets or shelves you need.

Furthermore, you’ll also be surprised by the amount of space shelves take up. Once you get them in your home, they often seem a lot larger than they were at the store. Measure before you purchase anything.

14. Cubby-Shelves Are The Way to Go

If you’re using the basement as a kid’s space, cubby shelves are the best option. They allow you to set all the toys out where the child can see them (which makes them more likely to play with them). However, they still keep the toys organized and together. Don’t cram each shelf with as much as possible. This will make it look messy, make it difficult for the child to find anything, and may limit the child’s ability to put everything back on the shelf.

When in doubt, get more shelves, not fewer.

You might also be interested in:

Featured image credit: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Related posts

OUR categories

Project ideas

Hand & power tools