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Floating shelves are an elegant way to display or store items around your home. However, if you are going to purchase floating shelves and plan on mounting more than one in a single location, a crucial question quickly arises: How far apart should floating shelves be?

Procuring the answer is essential, as going into the venture haphazardly could result in diminished functionality and aesthetic appeal.

Therefore, we have taken the time to put together this piece, which will inform you not only on how far apart floating shelves should be but also on distance suggestions for different spaces and scenarios. Let’s take a look at how to correctly space floating shelves.

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Purpose Is Important

Floating shelves are a smart solution for storing books, plants, spices and a panoply of different items. However, when mounting these kinds of shelves, it is critical to take into consideration the purpose of the shelf and how much space will be needed for the items it will house.

For instance, if the shelves are going to live in a bathroom, their use will drastically differ from shelves mounted in a kitchen or living room. Moreover, practicality versus aesthetic use must also be factored into the equation.

Therefore, when asking “How far apart should floating shelves be?” it is vital to examine the context in which they will live, as this will help to significantly inform your project.

There are some general guidelines by which you can abide.

How Far Apart Should Floating Shelves Be?

As far as horizontal placement is concerned, the biggest factor impacting this is going to be the location of wall studs. The fact is that the bracket system used by floating shelves demands that they be secured to studs if they are to bear any kind of weight.

row of timber wall studs

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If floating shelves are mounted using drywall anchors, over time the weight of the shelf and whatever it is holding will begin to pull away from the wall and sag.

Those who know how to find wall studs will tell you that studs are usually 16 inches apart (though there can be 24 inches between them). Therefore, the horizontal distance will be dictated by your home’s wall studs.

In terms of vertical distance between shelves, this will largely be determined by the height of the items that will be placed on the shelf. When vertically mounting shelves, provide room for the tallest item on the shelf, plus a few inches for breathing room.

A good rule of thumb for spacing floating shelves is to measure 12 inches between the shelves. However, this can be boosted up to 18 to 24 inches for exposure and accessibility reasons.

Additionally, as far as height from the ground goes, much like artwork, shelves should be hung near eye level or about four to five feet from the floor.

floating shelves in the kitchen

Source: David Berlekamp/

There is going to be some variation on vertical spacing depending on the shelves’ location:

  • Kitchen: If you are redoing your kitchen and purchasing antique knobs and pulls, refacing cabinets, installing a new sink or making other changes, this is a perfect time to install floating shelves. In a kitchen, shelves should be 18 to 24 inches above the counter, with 21 to 15 inches between shelves.

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  • Bathroom: If you are going to mount a floating shelf above your bathroom’s toilet, it should be no less than 10 to 12 inches from the top of the toilet — enough to remove the tank’s lid.
  • Living Room: Hanging a shelf behind your couch in the living room? Then be sure to measure 10 inches above the back of the couch.

The Bottom Line on Floating Shelf Spacing

The bottom line here is that these are just general guidelines. You can truly have as much or as little vertical space between shelves as you desire. Just keep in mind that spacing them too close or too far apart can diminish the aesthetic value.

However, horizontal spacing will largely be determined by your home’s wall studs.

No matter how you choose to space your floating shelves, making them look good is just as important. Therefore, don’t forget to check out our piece on decorating floating shelves for some great tips and tricks!