Étagère is the French word for shelf, and it refers specifically to a decorative and functional tall shelving unit usually used for storage and display purposes. An étagère differs from a bookcase in that it typically features open sides, and is constructed in a lighter more airy fashion for decorative purposes, rather than primarily for utility. Yet, even though the étagère prioritizes appearance, it is incredibly versatile and can be a useful addition to nearly any room of the house. Most could look at home holding any variety of items such as knick-knacks, books and pictures, games and DVDs, or even towels and décor.
Stylistically speaking, the étagère has come a long way from its 18th century French roots, and is now available in a huge variety of styles and shapes that stretch the boundaries of typical furniture design. There are many different variations of the characteristic right angled shelf, with variants that imitate period furniture, some that add visual appeal by leaning against a wall, and others that are designed for use in a corner. A more traditional étagère can also have integrated drawers or cabinet space, but typically this is kept to a minimum to preserve the open feel of the shelving unit. On the other end of the design spectrum, some the most aesthetically interesting étagères eschew categorization and typical silhouettes almost entirely, and border on the sculptural side of décor with their nontraditional use of angles and curves.
In addition to the wide range of silhouettes available, these shelves also come in a large variety of finishes. themine.com carries étagères with finishes in nickel, iron, wicker, various paint colors, and wood stains from chic faded tones to lustrous dark woods. With such diversity in design and composition, there is plenty of room for anyone to customize their space with an étagère and add a truly stand-out piece to their furnishings.