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What Kind of Shelves Should I Use If I Can’t Drill Holes In My Wall?

Because you need a place to put all your books and abubot!

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Photography: Kurt Alvarez (Main Photo)

This is a common question of renters or those living in homes with walls that cannot structurally support anything built-in or heavy. Short of just placing everything on the floor, our resident interior designer shares more attractive and practical solutions.

Q: I rent a 30sqm condo unit, and I can't drill holes on the wall or construct built-in shelves. My only choice is to buy freestanding ones. What type of shelves will not look so bulky in a small space? —Panjee

A: The best option is to pick a freestanding shelving unit that doesn't look or feel heavy. If you can find one, choose a unit with a slim silhouette, and shelves that have no backing, so that when the furniture is placed against the wall, it will look as if it's part of it.

You can also pick shelves with thinner side supports, or those that make use of glass sides in order to avoid visually cramping up your wall. Some shelves are even expandable, while some are in glass or mirror cladding—all of which won't take too much space. Here are some suggestions:


The open sides and back of this Sutter Shelf by Philux does not visually clutter the space.


Habitat’s Magna shelf has casters, so you can easily wheel your shelves from one spot to another.


If you want something more compact, the slim Ferman Shelf from Our Home is a good, affordable choice, and its closed back gives a more stable storage option, especially if you have to divide one area from another.

Interior designer Vera Villarosa-Orila is an alumna of the University of the Philippines and is one of the go-to designers for the Real Living Makeovers. You can get in touch with her through e-mail: vera.villarosa[at]gmail.com.

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Do you have questions or concerns about your home's layout, furniture, and color scheme? Send your questions to reallivingonline[at]gmail.com with the subject: Expert Advice. We might answer and feature your queries online.

This snippet appeared in the “Ask It” section of the June 2015 issue of Real Living magazine

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