Should You Put Shelves Above A Bed?

Should You Put Shelves Above A Bed?

For some, putting shelves above a bed would not be an option. For others, this is a design feature. The safety aspect of having shelves above a bed is a consideration. So, should you put shelves above a bed?

Shelves can be put above a bed and are mostly fitted between three and four feet above the mattress level. Shelves above a bed need to be securely fixed to a wall. The purpose of putting shelves above a bed must be considered, and the weight of items to be placed there must be considered.

Putting a shelf above your bed risks crashing down at night or during the day. Also, items placed there can fall off, especially when asleep. If properly secured, the linearity and horizontal shelves above a bed are a feature. Here are some aspects to consider if you fancy a different look for your bedroom.

A Shelf Above A Bed As A Style Feature

Shelves Above A Bed

Bedroom shelving ideas are plenty; you can put a shelf above a bed as long as it’s securely fixed and at the right height. A shelf above a bed shouldn’t be so low that you fear or even bump your head. For a start, ensure a shelf is properly bolted to a wall, preferably four feet higher than the mattress level. 

The height here is based on the average sitting height of three feet. Some shelves to consider are:

  • Floating shelf – closer to four feet higher than the top of the mattress and six inches or wider (overhang) than the actual bed
  • Straight forward – fix the shelf at least three feet above the bed with the width or overhang on the sides at least six inches. 
  • Wall-to-Wall Shelf – a shelf can be from one wall to another in an alcove or a smaller room. Here placed four feet from the mattress, ideal for late-night reads (a book or so) or family photos on stands.
  • The Built-in Shelf – above a headboard depends on the depth or height of the headboard. This shelf is either:
    • Part of a headboard and the shelf are put, on average, at least four feet higher than the mattress
    • Separate from the headboard with the headboard at least three feet deep, curved, or even scalloped. The shelf is fixed higher but relates to the headboard. You might rethink this option to avoid cluttering a bedroom wall on the side of a bed with additional shelving above.

Some coolest features have been an artistically arranged collection of typography prints in black and white. These add dimension to the bedroom, displayed on a shelf, unlike framed and hung on a wall.

Related Article: Where Should Floating Shelves Be Placed

Horizontal Shelves Above A Bed As Design Feature

Shelves Above A Bed

Styling a bedroom with a designed shelf above a bed has inspired interior planners. A thin horizontal line of shelves above the bed has aesthetic appeal and is functional. Interior designers are adamant about not letting shelves above a bed cause sleepless nights! Just do it.

Open shelves above a bed are popular in main bedrooms, guest rooms, and kids’ rooms. In a kid’s room, these shelves can house stuffed toys. Shelves above a bed can also help with clutter in a kid’s room. Standing on a bed and selecting a toy, and then repacking is also an early learning curve in tidiness for kids.

Shelves above a bed are good for showing or displaying personal pieces. Such displays bring interest to a room and add a personal touch. Shelves above a bed often are used to declutter a room.

On average, a standard shelf above a bed is put at least 14 inches above a twin-size bed’s headboard, 16 inches above a queen-size bed, and 18 inches above a king-size bed. If you have a headboard, start designing the shelf and headboard simultaneously.

A quick guide for the height of shelves above a bed is to get the tallest person using the space to sit on the bed and then measure a head height. The first shelf is put at least 6 inches higher than the head mark. The spacing for subsequent shelves is 8 inches apart for paperbacks. The shelves are put 12 inches apart for larger books or decorative items.

The classic look has always been shelving above the bed incorporated in the headboard, behind, and on the sides as a built-in unit or cozy nook.

Downside Of Putting A Shelf Above A Bed

Shelves Above A Bed

Most frequently, the reason for not putting a shelf above your bed is the safety aspect. What is commonly put forward is that shelves above a bed risk things falling from there, especially in an earthquake zone. These must be secured and not overloaded to stop shelves from collapsing, which stops the risk.

One of the main safety issues is the weight of items stacked on shelves above a bed. Also, the kinds of items you put there on display. You won’t stack shelves above a bed with books or use poorly fixed shelves on a wall. Keep the depth of shelves narrows too. And you won’t put a metal bolt from a shipwreck on the shelf, either.

Feng Sui And Shelves Above A Bed

You might wonder, is it bad for Feng Sui to have a shelf above a bed? One of the commonest responses to this question is that no one needs much storage to take this risk. You might even have heard of people waking up in the dead of night to find a shelf or all the shelves above collapsed on a bed.

Whether it’s bad Feng Sui, think again as this ancient Chinese practice on placement and arranging rooms for better energy says: keep the bedroom free from constrictive energy. Shelving in the bedroom is out, and no shelving above the bed.

Whether you believe this or not, it’s fascinating to consider when you think of putting shelves above a bed. As Feng Sui relates to the flow and balancing energy related to wellness, relationships, and cash flow, putting shelves above a bed might be a reasonable interior design option; your qi also matters. 

Keep a bedroom free from clutter for relaxation, and if this means a shelf or two above a bed, consult a Feng Sui expert on how to balance energies too.


Having shelves above a bed is not a design faux pas; it is done for more than aesthetics, as these shelves can be functional. Whether you should put shelves above a bed will depend on how these are installed and the uses of such shelves.

Properly installed, shelves above a bed are more than a feature only as a bedroom can be decluttered. Though, beware ancient Chinese principles recommend that no shelves be put in bedrooms. 


Hi there! I’m Alex, the one behind this website. I ran and operated a Local Furniture Store in Southern California. The store opened in 2010, during the “Great Recession,” It is still thriving today; however, I have dedicated my time to helping our online customer base. My primary focus is to help you with all your furniture & mattress questions.

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