Spotlight on The Etagere


Etagere is a French word that refers to an open bookshelf.  It was popularized in the late 18th century in France, crafted as a lightweight, freestanding set of open shelves used to display small, decorative objects, or objets, to use the French term.

A formal arrangement of etageres

We love the elegance and lightness of the étagere.  It lacks the heavy visual weight of a solid-back bookshelf making it an incredibly useful case good.  When other pieces in a room have a strong presence, an étagere will keep things light.  It has the ability to draw the eye upwards and fill a void, without being imposing or domineering.   Because of this lightness, étageres are often used in pairs to create a balanced, formal look.  “Bunching” étageres side by side is also a great way to fill a large expanse of wall.
A pair of etageres in an office setting

Bunch them side by side to cover a large expanse of wall 
Bunch them side by side to cover a large expanse of wall 

The open back of the étagere has the advantage of allowing the wall behind to be visible.  Designers often use wall treatments like wallpaper, grasscloth and wall panelling to create a mood.  The étagere doesn’t break up the view of the wall behind it, allowing the walls to become a continuous envelope for the furnishings. 

A word of caution though -- the étagere should be styled artfully.   Objects should be carefully vetted so that the overall effect appears edited and curated.   The openness of the étagere allows for viewing from its sides, so include objects that are artistic and sculptural.  
A few carefully selected books are fine so long as the overall effect is a pleasing composition.  Get inspired by the images below or check out the styling tips at: https://www.universalexplorehome.com/2019/05/31/how-to-properly-style-an-etagere/

In terms of applications, the étagere is very versatile.  We especially love it in living rooms, offices and bathrooms but your imagination is their only limitation.  An emerging use of the étagere is as a room divider.  In today’s open concept floor plans, the étagere can become a creative way to define spaces without the use of walls.  They allow for the delineation of zones while maintaining visual connection between spaces.

Use them as a lower cost and simpler alternative to built-in shelving





Store towels and toiletries with style in a bathroom




Use them as creative room dividers





If you’ve fallen for the virtues of the étagere, contact Eden Design ( https://www.edendesign.co/contact )for help in sourcing the perfect one for your space.  Check out the collection of images below for a small sampling of styles.  They come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and finishes so there’s bound to be one that’s right for you.     



All available through Eden Design 


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