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Ultimate Guide to
Decorating Your Home with Glass Shelves

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As trends come and go, classic glass wall shelves offer a timeless look that adapts to many styles. When your living space needs a fresh vibe, the addition of glass shelving opens up diverse possibilities. Because of their versatility, these shelves are at home in any room and can be integrated into just about all decorating styles. They also have a classic and timeless look that allows them to keep beautifying your home, even as changing trends cause you to alter what’s displayed on them. Let’s get answers to questions you may have about glass shelves and how they can be used throughout your house.


1. What are some glass wall shelving basics?

2. Can glass shelves be customized?

3. How are glass shelves used in a living room setting?

4. Why put glass wall shelves in my dining room?

5. How can glass shelving be used in the kitchen?

6. Could a glass shelf improve my bathroom?

7. Are glass wall shelves suitable for laundry rooms and mud rooms?

8. What about glass shelves in an entryway?

9. Can glass replace old shelves in closets, cupboards, and cabinets?

10. How should I take care of glass wall shelves?

11. How can I have custom glass shelving installed in my home?

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Glass shelves are sections of glass attached to a wall with brackets, clamps, or some other hanging system. They can also be installed as replacement shelves in other furniture and fixtures. Shelves are often comprised of annealed (standard) glass, but there are other options if you are worried about safety or the longevity of the shelves:


  • Tempered Glass – 3-4 times stronger than annealed glass, tempered glass is also less dangerous if it does break.

  • Laminated Glass – This product is composed of two outer layers of glass adhered to a clear vinyl interlayer. Even if laminated glass gets fractured, it will stay in place, stuck to the interlayer.

  • Glass Alternative – Polycarbonate and acrylic sheets offer a glass-like appearance paired with awesome durability. These materials would be suitable for areas where there is a high risk of damage.


Stock glass wall shelves can be purchased from a retailer, while custom glass shelving can be ordered from a glass company.

1. What are some glass wall shelving basics?

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2. Can glass shelves be customized?

Absolutely! When you opt to order your shelves from a glass company, they can be tailored to your tastes and preferences in the following areas:


  • Glass thickness – within parameters dictated by weight capacity, etc.

  • Dimensions of each shelf – also within doable parameters

  • Glass style – clear, acid-etched, patterned

  • Type of hanging system or brackets

  • Style and finish of hardware components


You can order shelves of various dimensions or even shelves made of different types of glass. Glass shelving provides a surface on which to display decorative items, but it also serves as a wall ornament in its own right. Being able to custom order your shelving allows you to maximize this potential through the appearance of the shelves and their arrangement on your walls. Points to consider in choosing your options include:


  • Primary purpose – display or storage

  • Weight and dimensions of items you want to place on the shelves

  • Overall style/theme of the room and surrounding furniture

  • Metal finish(es) already used in the space

  • Type of glass already present in the room

3. How are glass shelves used in a living room setting?

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Living rooms – and similar spaces like family rooms and dens – are one of the most popular locations for glass shelving. It can take many forms, from shelves entirely lining a bare wall to a small set of corner shelves. Whatever form they take, living room wall shelves make it easy to create a display that functions as the room’s focal point. Since they are primarily installed for decorative purposes, living room wall shelves often hold vignettes and other displays. Let’s go over some FAQs to help with successfully adorning living room wall shelves.

How full should the shelves be?

For most decorating styles, there should be plenty of negative (empty) space on the glass wall shelves. Small groupings and vignettes should be placed intentionally and without filling the shelves completely. However, maximalism is a décor mode that follows different rules, loading shelves to capacity with a layered (but still curated) collection of treasures.

How can I create attractive groupings of items on my living room wall shelves?

Cluster items of varying heights for visual interest and remember that odd-numbered groupings look best. It’s also helpful to vary the orientation of certain items – ie some books stacked horizontally and others stood on end. Also try to tastefully blend complimentary colors and textures within each vignette.

What kinds of items look good in a living room display?

You have lots of options for items to include in a living room wall display, but favorite picks include:

  • books

  • framed photos

  • items from nature

  • carved wood bowls

  • vases

  • live plants

  • sculptures


Choose items based on your living room’s theme, style, and color scheme…..and simply on what you like!

Are there ways to enhance a glass shelving display?

There are! You might have a custom wall mirror installed behind the shelves to double the visual impact of their contents. You can also illuminate them with ceiling lights, wall sconces, or a small lamp on one of the shelves.

Are glass shelves also a storage solution?

They certainly can be. Living room wall shelves can be used for the storage of tastefully arranged books, collectibles, and more.

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4. Why put glass wall shelves in my dining room?

Dining room glass shelves also provide a great opportunity to combine storage and décor. In fact, you can free up some kitchen storage space by moving lovely dishware and glassware out of kitchen cupboards and onto the wall shelves. You could even install a low glass shelf to function as a modern take on the traditional sideboard. If you already have a sideboard, you can have glass shelves hung above it for even more storage. This is a great place to house items you frequently need in the dining room such as placemats, cloth napkins, and serving utensils. Glass wall shelves in the dining room are also a wonderful surface on which to showcase:


  • Wedding china or heirloom china

  • Unique handpainted dishware

  • Irish pottery

  • Barware

  • Crystal goblets


At the same time, dining room shelves can be used for displays that are purely decorative in nature. Many decorators will opt for a blend of both. Examples include:


  • a stack of plates topped off with a small vase of flowers

  • canisters of flour and sugar alongside some decorative vintage pitchers

  • everyday dishware interspersed with a few decorative plates in stands

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5. How can glass shelving be used in the kitchen?

Some cooks actually prefer open shelving to cupboards with doors in the kitchen, so one option is to replace a certain number of cupboards with glass shelves. Advantages include:


  • Easy access to commonly used items and ingredients.

  • Don’t have to spend time rummaging through cupboards.

  • Easy to find what you need.

  • Ability to turn kitchen storage into an attractive display.

  • More roomy and open feeling for the kitchen.


However, if you like your kitchen cabinets, look for an unused corner or bare wall space where the addition of glass shelves would give you more storage and design options. Glass shelves can be part of a coffee bar, a home bar area, or a simply a place to stash a few things that you use every day. Try to locate kitchen shelves away from high splatter areas to prevent the buildup of grimy grease. Kitchen shelves should be regularly dusted and wiped down to keep everything sanitary and looking its best.

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6. Could a glass shelf improve my bathroom?

In a bathroom, a glass shelf can be a lovely partner to other glass fixtures such as a glass shower enclosure or a glass privacy screen. This addition also helps you combat one of the most common issues detracting from a bathroom’s atmosphere: clutter. With the added surface provided by a glass shelf, you have extra room for:


  • beauty products

  • toilet paper

  • towels

  • health products

  • potted plants


Good locations for a bathroom glass shelf include behind the commode, in a corner, and inside the shower. If it’s practical to add in-shower shelves, these make it much easier to keep your shower enclosure neat, tidy, and well styled at all times. Glass is a nice material to use in a bathroom because it does not absorb odors or moisture and can be sanitized easily.

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7. Are glass wall shelves suitable for laundry rooms and mud rooms?

Glass shelves add beauty and functionality to the space where they are installed, and laundry rooms and mud rooms are no exception. Wall shelves above the washer and dryer make it convenient to store detergent, fabric softener, stain remover, and other laundry care items out of the reach of children and pets. Shelves of various materials can be used here, but glass shelves will style up the room in a way that wire shelves cannot.


Even mudrooms are no longer purely utilitarian spaces in which to dump coats and shoes. Mudroom decorating ideas abound, and having plenty of attractive storage options is often their foundation. Homeowners today also spend time choosing color schemes and themes for the mudroom. Glass shelves can hold baskets and bins full of hats, scarves, and mittens; décor accent items to make the mudroom fashionable; or even your out of season shoes. In summary, glass shelves benefit laundry rooms and mudrooms by:


  • Giving these practical areas a classy vibe.

  • Allowing you to store items neatly but in easy reach.

  • Providing additional usable surfaces for both storage and the display of decorative pieces.

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8. What about glass shelves in an entryway?

Even the small (or large) entrance to your home can improved with one or more glass shelves. Sometimes this is space that lacks décor, and if it is small, it can be hard to find room to add anything decorative. A wall shelf allows you to style up the space with a charming vignette. However, glass shelving in the entryway can also be used to store:


  • shoes

  • hats

  • out of season coats

  • keys

  • handbags


If space is tight in your entryway, keep this in mind when choosing shelf dimensions and be sure the shelves don’t extend out too far from the wall. Corner shelves or shelves installed above a piece of furniture are other possibilities.

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9. Can glass replace old shelves in closets, cupboards, and cabinets?

Yes! This is another attractive possibility offered by custom glass shelves. Wooden shelves in a closet, cabinet, or cupboard can bow over time, start to sag, or actually break. Instead of replacing them with a similar product, you can upgrade to glass. Glass shelves will not sag like wooden ones, and they will style up the entire cabinet. Glass is also easier to wipe clean and sanitize, which can help keep closets from getting musty or mildewed. Even if your existing shelves are not damaged, you might want to make the move to glass. Good places to do this include:


  • Kitchen cupboards where you are replacing the door fronts with clear cabinet glass

  • A dining room china hutch

  • Book cases

  • Your bedroom’s walk-in closet

  • Bathroom vanity cupboard

  • Display cabinet or trophy case


As in the case of wall shelves, you can choose the glass style and hardware to coordinate with the cabinet, cupboard, or closet.

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10. How should I take care of glass wall shelves?

If glass shelves and their contents are not cleaned regularly, they’ll get dusty and detract from the room rather than add to it. It is important to dust at regular intervals and to give them a more thorough cleaning every so often. For example, you could start with weekly dusting and monthly cleaning and then adjust this schedule as needed. Use a feather duster to remove dust from the shelves themselves as well as their contents. You may wish to lift items off the shelf and dust beneath them if time allows. Follow these steps for the periodic deep clean:


  • Snap a pic of the shelves so you can remember how you had the display arranged.

  • Remove all the contents of the shelves and dust them and wipe them down as needed.

  • Dust the shelves with a feather duster or microfiber cloth.

  • Spray approved glass cleaner or a 50/50 vinegar and water solution onto the shelf, taking care not to spray the wall, floor, or surrounding furniture. (You can also spray the cleaner onto a rag and use this to apply it to the shelving.)

  • Clean the glass using newspaper or a lint-free cloth.

  • Buff until dry and repeat the cleaning process if streaks remain.

  • Wipe down the hardware with a damp cloth and then buff it dry as well.

  • Allow the glass and hardware to air dry completely.

  • Using your photo as a guide, put the contents of the shelves back in place.


Additional tips for keeping a glass shelving display looking its best include:


  • Change out some or all of the items from time to time to keep the display in style and relevant.

  • Include one or two seasonal or holiday themed items, but be sure to remove them once that season has passed.

  • Let the display help keep your room in style by occasionally adding an item in a trending color, pattern, or theme.


With regular cleaning and thoughtful content curation, your glass shelves and their contents can improve any part of the home!

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11. How can I have custom glass shelving installed in my home?

Custom glass shelves are delivered and installed by glass shops like ABC Glass & Mirror of Manassas Park, VA. To get started or just to explore your options, call us at (703)257-7150. You can schedule a free, no-obligation, in-home consultation with a glass shelving specialist. This is a convenient opportunity to view product samples and pictures and get your questions answered by a glass expert. We will email you a price quote for the products and options you are interested in, so all the shopping can be done from the comfort of your home. After you receive the estimate, the process wraps up:


  • You make a decision and place your order.

  • We fabricate and source all that is needed for your custom shelves.

  • Our team schedules an installation visit.

  • Your glass shelves are put in place by a trained crew.

  • You arrange your items on the shelves and enjoy the beauty and additional storage they provide.


ABC Glass & Mirror is a veteran and family owned glass company that has been serving the Northern VA region for over twenty years. We serve homeowners as well as commercial clients and are happy to undertake projects large or small. Our team would love the chance to earn your business, and we believe you’ll love the quality and commitment to customer satisfaction that we offer.

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