We asked a few experts to weigh in.

By Caroline Biggs
March 16, 2020
Lindsay Salazar

A good corner cabinet or shelf can be a game-changer for your home. Along with creating a storage opportunity where there previously wasn't one, they can make a stylish display out of an otherwise empty space. "The greatest goal of a corner cabinet or shelf is to capitalize on every available square inch of usable space for storage or display," says designer John McClain of John McClain Design. "Chances are every room in your home has an empty corner crying out to be useful."

They are also rife with design opportunity, too. "They're a great place to add a pop of color inside the shelving with wallpaper or paint and accessories," says Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis. "They work amazingly for small vases and the like." Looking for more ways to curate a stylish and storage-savvy corner cabinet or shelf display? We asked a few experts for advice—and here's what they had to say.

Related: Our Favorite Bookshelf Organizing Ideas

Take proper measurements.

The first step to securing the right corner cabinet or shelf for a room is taking the correct measurements for the space. "Start from the corner and measure both to the left and right; give yourself enough distance to be able to open any doors the cabinet may have," explains Luka Sanders of Luka Duggan Design. "If there is another piece of furniture next to the cabinet, a safe minimum distance would be 36 inches."

Mind your surroundings.

"To maximize storage when selecting a corner cabinet or shelf, measure both the legs and the hypotenuse of the area," McClain says. "Take into consideration any base molding or window trim that may interfere. If you want the cabinet to look as if it were built-in, you can cut the baseboard to allow it to sit flush against the wall. If it is particularly tall, ensure it can make all the necessary turns through halls and doorways to make it into the space."

Pick the right shape.

According to McClain, these pieces typically come in either triangular or pentagonal configurations—and selecting the right style for your space is crucial. "Your amount of available space, functional needs, and visual preferences will likely dictate the ultimate shape and size of your corner cabinet or shelf," he says. "The common triangular shape looks more modern and has minimal impact on clearances and walking paths, while the traditional pentagonal shape provides slightly more storage and presents the opportunity for a small countertop, landing pad, or charging station."

Make it feel cohesive.

In order to make a corner cabinet or shelf work with the rest of the décor in a room, McClain suggests mimicking the design and finish of the other accessories. "For instance, if you have brass accents in a room, choose a cabinet with brass knobs or pulls," he says. "When you wish for the cabinet to visually recede, the entire piece should be painted either the color of the walls or trim. If you only want to blend a portion of the cabinet and create a bigger visual impact, paint the interior a contrasting color from the exterior. You can also add wallpaper to the back of the cabinet in a coordinating color or pattern."

Curate accordingly.

Our experts say knowing what you're going to stash in this nook is every bit as important as selecting the right size or style. "Be real with yourself about what exactly you wish to store or display," McClain says. "If you are not up to careful placement and occasional dusting sessions, open storage or shelving is not for you. Closed storage is of particular interest in spaces such as the bathroom, where whatever you are keeping is probably of little aesthetic interest."

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