Shelf improvement

Private Property South Africa
Genevieve Putter

Modern-day storage solutions are as stylish as they are functional. Here, organisational strategies for turning clutter into character.

  • Box set

Designed by Italian company Office for Design (officefordesign. it), the W-Box modular system of wooden boxes has a distinctly retro feel to it, modernised here by the use of punchy Dulux paint colours ( Create the look yourself with a series of plywood boxes in a variety of sizes, configured as you please against a feature wall. Prime the wood surfaces with a coat of Dulux Supergrip All Surface Primer, then paint it with two coats of Dulux PearlGlo. Map your composition on the wall and then have a carpenter put it all together.

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  • Strung out

Developed over 60 years ago, the String System’s ( classic design is the epitome of Scandinavian cool. The beauty of this system is that it’s highly durable yet the base structure is inconspicuous, which gives the impression that the oak shelves and cabinetry are floating. It has also been developed in a way to that allows you to add and reconfigure the shelves and fittings. Local suppliers for the String System are Joburg-based Mezzanine Interiors (

  • Cable Tied

This attractive shelving system at newly opened Chef’s Warehouse & Canteen (chefswarehouse. in Cape Town’s Bree Street is another that gives the illusion that the products displayed are floating. Dave Hearne of Carpenter’s Creations ( designed and fitted the system, working around the challenge of the heritage-building setting, which meant that nothing could be bolted or affixed to the wall. Chef-Patron Liam Tomlin’s brief was for a system that would lighten the interior colour scheme, honour the existing practical restraints and be robust enough to hold lots of bottles and jars. David’s solution was to use American poplar, a blonde wood that’s light yet hardy, for the shelving, and to connect these with steel cables attached to the ceiling and floor.

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  • Central Station

This central structure in a studio apartment in District Six, Cape Town, was a design solution to create an additional mezzanine level within the apartment in order to house the couple’s workspace. It achieves its intended result but also provides more cupboard space and sets up a series of internal ‘corridors’ and walls that connect all the living nodes.

  • Living large

There is so much to love about the Living Cube (, designed by Swiss- based furniture designer Till Könneker. Born of the need to store a large number of belongings within a small space (and the ultimate expression of living large in close quarters), the Cube succeeds in accommodating all the requirements of modern urban living: a 42-inch flat-screen TV, bookshelves, cupboard space, a queen-size bed and, at its core, a storage or utility room. Available to purchase and ship on request.

Born of the need to store a large number of belongings in a small space (and the ultimate expression of living large in close quarters), the Cube succeeds in accommodating all the requirements of the modern urban lifestyle

  • Float your box

The Zed Shelves by Stokperd ( were a once-off commission by furniture-maker Monya Eastman. A classic case of form following function, their hexagonal shape is a direct result of their intended purpose: to store (and show off) the found possessions in her client’s family home. A carpenter will easily be able to recreate these units using MDF boards, says Eastman, adding: "Hang them in interesting configurations on a wall or simply stack them one on top of the other, which will require no installation at all." Or use the ‘boxes’ as a bookcase, says Eastman, who suggests grouping your books according to one colour for each box to make a real impact.

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  • Divided we stand

This living room in a home in Interlaken, Switzerland, was refurbished by Zurich-based Bergdorf Agency ( and features a bookcase that acts as a room divider. It is painted the same dark green as the background wall, but the pops of colour from the stored books on the shelves are the unexpected heroes, adding light relief to the ambient interiors. Ikea has a range of large bookshelves, available to order in South Africa exclusively through Nevada Furniture (

  • Fitting in

Released at the recent Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan is Caesarstone’s Islands concept, a collaboration with London-based Raw Edges Design Studio. The various islands have been designed around a single work surface (this inspired by Caesarstone’s Classico Collection) into which all the other elements – cabinetry, appliances and other functionalities – merely slot. We love the retro look of the unit: the appendages, made from reclaimed timber, terracotta tiles and glass, among other things, complement the sleek and durable countertops.

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  • Stairway to heaven

This innovative staircase – known as Object Élevé – is so much more than just the sum of its parts and function. Conceptualised by Dutch design team Studio Meike Meijer (, the part-suspended/part-fixed feature offers storage space as well as a built-in desk, and, of course, an arresting link between the different levels of the house.

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