How To Choose An Etagere

Etagere bookcases are a great way to organize and display a lot more than just books. They are also perfect for displaying trinkets, photo frames, plants and ornaments. Nevertheless, people often struggle when buying a new etagere due to the sheer number of different types and styles available.

Here's how to choose the perfect etagere bookcase for your home.

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What are the different types of Etageres?

Here are some of the main types of etagere you'll come across when choosing your new model:

Classic Etagere

Classic etageres have a thin frame and open backs. They come in a variety of sizes, however, they are all characterized by their clean lines and elegant silhouette. While wood or metal or a combination of both are popular choices, you'll also find classic etagere bookcase shelves in a wide variety of different materials, including glass, plastic, and laminate. 

Classic Standard White Etagere
Wood and Metal 5 Shelf Etagere Bookcase
Classic Wood Slim Etagere Bookcase
Classic Brown Wood Etagere
Wood and Metal Classic Etagere
Small Classic Wood Etagere

Geometric Etagere

Geometric etageres are popular in modern homes where they make good focal points. They are also useful for displaying items that would otherwise look a little "lost" on an average shelf. Geometric etageres use both vertical and horizontal lines within the external frame to break up your shelves into partitions of various shapes and sizes. They can vary in style from fun, creative looks to serious and severe.

Long Slim White Geometric Etagere
Metal Silver Geometric Etagere
Open Dark Wood Geometric Etagere
White Simple Geometric Etagere
White Big Geometric Etagere
Large Brown Wood Geometric Etagere

Corner Etagere

If you're really tight on space or need to place an etagere in a high traffic area such as a hall or landing, then a corner model could be just what you need. Corner etageres are triangular and are designed to maximize your storage space. While they are less practical for storing large books, they make excellent display units.

Rustic 4-Tier Corner Etagere Bookcase
Wood and Metal Corner Etagere
Black and Brown Corner Etagere
Long White Corner Bookcase Etagere
Slim Metal Corner Etagere with Wood Shelf
Dark Wood aCorner Etagere

Ladder Etagere

Contemporary ladder etageres give your room an air of originality without detracting from the rest of your decor.

They consist of a very simple frame that uses two sloping uprights that lean against your wall. The shelves start off deeper at the bottom, where the frame is further from your wall and progressively become shallower as the frame slopes backward to meet the wall. 

Some models feature walled lower shelves, which can be useful for storing larger items or even a storage box full of smaller things that could otherwise become cluttered.

Grey Wood and Metal Ladder Etagere
Wood and Metal Ladder Etagere
White Wood Ladder Etagere
Dark Wood High Ladder Etagere
Black and Brown High Ladder Etagere

Room Divider Etagere

Room divider etageres are typically wide and tall. They can be used along a large free wall; however, they are popular for portioning up open plan spaces into different usage areas. You could use one to section off your dining area from your sitting area, without losing the appeal of one large room.

Fill room divider etageres for a more divisive effect or leave them mainly open to keep a spacious feel. Etagere room dividers with geometric shapes are also popular, as they provide an eye-catching division. In contrast, standard straight shelves will need some imaginative filling to prevent you from simply gazing straight through.

How to Choose the Right Etagere for Your Decor?

It's important to find the right etagere to match your decor, here's what styles to look out for.


If your home is traditional in style, then you should look for an etagere with a clean-lined silhouette.

Opt for a wooden or metal frame in muted tones that allow your display items to command attention. White or natural wood are good matches for a traditional home, or you could also consider matching your etagere's finish to other items in your room for a harmonious feel.


For a modern look, opt for etagere bookcases that use glossy surfaces, such as laminate or plastics.

You could also team modern style wooden etageres with a more contemporary setting. Geometric shapes work well also, as do room divider etageres, breaking up loft-style apartments into their respective areas, without restricting light and movement. Look for feature pieces in bright accent colors or play it safe with neutral tones


Thanks to their understated frames and open backs, etageres look great in minimalist homes. Opt for a metal frame and neutral or natural shadedshelves for a classic minimalist look that places the emphasis on the raw beauty of the materials.


For a streamlined industrial style, opt for a sturdy iron-framed etagere bookcase. Ladder styles make an excellent choice thanks to their utilitarian looks. The juxtaposition of rustic pine shelves and distressed black painted metal will give an authentic industrial feel to any living area. Extra details such as X-braces and metal bolts or cutouts add decorative touches without detracting from that factory feel.

Modern White Folding Etagere Bookcase
Modern Foldable Etagere Bookcase
Industrial Etagere Bookcase with Wood Shelves
Metal and Wood Industrial Etagere
Industrial Etagere Bookcase
Traditional Decorative Etagere Bookcase


If you have a farmhouse-style home, then an industrial style etagere can also look good in your kitchen or living room. Etageres with wooden shelves and metal frames replicate farm machinery and classic styling where function rules over form.

However, if your farmhouse style is more cozy cottage, you may want to look for a wooden etagere that is more substantial than the typical fine framed versions. Wooden trellis panels can add extra decoration without detracting too much from the basic design.

Shabby Chic

Go for a romantic shabby chic look and choose an etagere with a brass frame and marble shelves, for a classic chic French look. Otherwise, a gilded metal version would look great. Depending on your vision for your room, you may also like to consider a wooden etagere with white distressed paintwork and trellis details, for a more romantic look.


Geometric etageres work well in some eclectic homes, especially more modern ones. You could also consider a rectangular etagere with eastern-inspired trellis sides for extra individuality. Wood, plastic or metal, whatever mis-matches best with your current collection. Opt for a striking color or play it down with a neutral frame and arch details, to let your collection of ornaments or unusual literature really shine.

Farmhouse Etagere Bookcase in Ecru
Small Farmhouse Etagere Bookcase
Short Eclectic Etagere Bookcase
Light Wood Eclectic Etagere Bookcase
Shabby Chic Long Etagere Bookcase
Shabby Chic Short Etagere Bookcase

What Size Etagere is Best for Your Home?

Once you have your ideal style etagere in mind, you'll then need to ensure you find the right size for your home. Here's how.

Room Size

No matter how beautiful your favorite model is, make sure it's a good fit for the room you're planning to place it in. Obviously, small rooms will benefit from narrower but taller etageres to avoid looking cramped and cluttered. Use wider etageres in larger rooms without worrying about a reduction in floorspace.

As etageres tend to feature open backs and thin frames, they are actually an ideal choice for smaller homes. If you dream of a spacious living room and feel cramped and stuffy with your current furniture, try replacing a bulky, solid dresser with a large open etagere or two. This will give the impression of a much more spacious living area while still providing plenty of storage.

Display Contents

Are you going to be using your etagere for tall books or ornaments and trinkets?

Consider what you will be displaying when choosing your etagere. For small items, you may prefer a smaller, geometric etagere so your shelves don't look too bare. Tall books can often be problematic, although if you only wish to display a handful of interesting hardbacks, you may find they look better flat rather than upright.

Choosing an etagere with adjustable shelves can help you to house all the items you wish to. For items you are keen to display and not just store, consider lower etageres. You can use the top level for most prominent objects. On taller models place your favorite pieces you want to show off at eye-level.

Other Decorative Items

Make sure that your etagere will fit in with other items in your room. For example, if you have a distinctive wall mirror, you could place a short etagere beneath it for an elegant look, reminiscent of a console table but with extra storage.

If your room has a lot of furniture, you may wish to opt for a tall etagere that will offer a maximum of storage for a minimal footprint. Tall corner models tuck away unobtrusively, whereas wide chunky frame etageres make more of a bolder statement and are best teamed with a bare wall.

Choosing an Etagere - Short or Tall?

Go for a short etagere for:

  • Storing/displaying small items.
  • Placing under a prominent wall mirror or painting.
  • Tight, low spaces.

A tall one for:

  • Storing/displaying items you don't need to access frequently.
  • If you're short on floor space.

A wide etagere can be good when:

  • You have an empty wall.
  • You have a lot of similar items to store next to one another.
  • You want to replace a bulky dresser or large cabinets to make your room appear more spacious.