What is an Etagere?

An etagere is a piece of furniture consisting of a series of open shelves for displaying or storing items.


An etagere is a stylish and functional piece of furniture that finds its roots in 18th century France. Its primary purpose is to showcase objects, books, or decorative pieces in an open and accessible way. Essentially, it is a set of open shelves, often made of metal or wood, that can range from tall and slender units to those that are broader with more space between shelves.

The etagere is versatile; it can be placed in various locations around the home or office, from living rooms and bedrooms to bathrooms and kitchens. Its open design not only allows for easy access and display of items but also adds a sense of airiness and space to a room. Unlike closed storage units, etageres invite the eye to explore the textures, colors, and nuances of displayed items.

Modern interpretations of the etagere blend seamlessly with a range of interior design styles, from traditional to contemporary. They can be purely decorative, act as room dividers, or offer practical storage solutions. The choice of materials and design details can significantly influence an etagere's character, making it a statement piece in its own right.


In a modern home, an etagere can be used in the living room to display a collection of favorite books, framed photos, and unique decorative objects. In the bathroom, it might serve to organize towels, toiletries, and small plants, adding both functionality and aesthetic appeal. In commercial settings, etageres are often used to display products, literature, or art.


  • Can an etagere be used in small spaces?

    Absolutely! An etagere, with its open design, can help to visually expand a space by allowing light to pass through and offering a minimal visual footprint. It's a fantastic option for adding storage or display space without overwhelming a small room.

  • What materials are commonly used for etageres?

    Etageres are typically made from metals such as iron or brass, or woods either in their natural state or painted. Glass shelves are also popular for a more modern, lighter appearance.

  • How do you style an etagere?

    Styling an etagere involves balancing objects of different heights, textures, and colors to create an appealing arrangement. Incorporating items like books, vases, picture frames, and small sculptures can add personal flair and visual interest.

  • Are etageres expensive?

    The price of an etagere can vary widely based on materials, craftsmanship, and size. There are affordable options available, as well as more luxurious, artisan-crafted pieces.

  • Can etageres be used for storage?

    Yes, though primarily used for display, etageres can also provide practical storage solutions. They're great for organizing items in spaces like bathrooms and kitchens, where accessibility is key.

Practical Application

When incorporating an etagere into your decor, consider the balance and rhythm of the displayed items. Aim for a mix of sizes and textures to create visual interest, and remember to leave some open space to prevent clutter. Layering items, using books as bases for smaller objects, and incorporating greenery or artwork can enrich the overall aesthetic appeal. It's also essential to choose an etagere that complements the room's overall design style.