Ideas for Temporary Shelving

Kathy Adams

Temporary shelving provides a quick, take-down alternative to a permanent installation, ideal for an apartment or dorm or to display your wares during a yard sale.

Repurpose materials from around the home, or purchase a ready-made system that is easy to assemble and take apart, in case you want to move it to another area in the near future.

Crate Creations

Milk crates that stack together create open-ended, adjustable shelving that can be built as tall or wide as you like. Stack crates along a wall in a desired pattern, such as three crates across, three crates high, with the openings facing the room, or stack them into a pyramid shape or a single column, based on available space. Wooden wine crates or vintage beverage bottle crates can be used in place of milk crates. If using plastic crates, paint them a color that coordinates with the room so they look more suited to the space.

Ladder Love

Old, sturdy wooden stepladders serve as structural and decorative supports for homemade shelving. Paint the ladders a cheery color such as orange or apple green or a shade that matches the room's decor, or leave them as-is for a repurposed look. Place two equal height stepladders facing opposite one another, steps or rungs facing out. A wide, long board spans from one ladder's bottom step to the other's, with one board at each step. Panels from accordion closet doors or long window shutters can be used in place of boards.

Reusable Wire Racks

Wire rack shelving units serve as attractive, temporary shelving that fits into the decor in just about any room. These units are often sold in chrome or black finishes, so they look just as nice in a kitchen as they do in a home office. Small two-shelf units, on up to tall racks with four or more wide shelves, are available; many of these can be modified to add additional shelves by adding posts to the top layer and another shelf atop that. They also come apart for easy transport and reassembly where needed.

Suitcase Solutions

Vintage leather or hard-shell suitcases and briefcases have an iconic look that pairs well with a travel- or vintage-inspired room. Secure shelf brackets to the bottom of each suitcase using screws or nuts and bolts, then mount the brackets onto studs on the wall, or into wall anchors. If you'd rather not make holes in the wall, mount a series of the suitcases to an old wooden door and lean the door up against a wall or corner of the room. Use the suitcases closed as one way to display the shelves, or open for another look. Disassemble the cases to create two halves, each serving as its own shelf; mount them open-end up or open-end down, whichever look you prefer.