For Form and Function: Make It Modular
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For Form and Function: Make It Modular

The beauty of modular shelving is in its flexibility.

By JENNIFER TZESES
Thu, Sep 16, 2021Grey Clock 3 min

Modular shelving is like a life-sized open-work puzzle that can be configured and re-configured depending on the space.

Whether stacked on top of each other, side by side or used as separate pieces in a room, the beauty of a modular unit is in its flexibility.

“Modular shelving adds the ability to style a room with chic accessories and storied mementos,” says Hillary Kaplan, principal designer and owner of Mimi & Hill design in Westfield, New Jersey. “It is also an easy and accessible way to add more storage to any room.”

With a wide variety of styles and materials available in the marketplace, there is an option to suit every sensibility. Here, tips from the design pros to expand your display horizons.

Materials Make a Difference

“Pieces picked up on travels, personal photos and family treasures find the perfect home on these kinds of shelves. As big fans of symmetry, we tend to use a lot of étagère-style shelves and pieces that can combine and expand to fit spaces with a semi-custom feel. This way, they feel more deliberate and integrate seamlessly with the larger design scheme. Wood is always durable and excellent for multi-use, but we love Lucite shelves that float or white shelves that let the pieces take centre stage.

“Often, the awkward space between a pair of windows is the perfect space for a shelving unit. It feels deliberate and adds a focal point to the room, anchoring a seating area while displaying your most personal objects and family photographs.

“Every room is unique, and it is essential to measure the space to ensure that you are not purchasing something that will feel too small or overwhelm the area. Another reason why we love the transparency of Lucite shelving is that they disappear just a bit. But be mindful of the shelf depth. If you have lots of books, board games or photo albums you want to ensure you select the correct size to account for the depth of your pieces. If not, your items may hang off the edge of the shelf, which looks messy.

“Curating your unit takes some know-how. To keep the look clean and not cluttered, be very intentional and display the most sentimental, fragile or important pieces first. Once those are identified as your must-haves, start to place clean stacks of books. We like to start with the largest ones on the bottom and then stack by size. Group books together in odd numbers depending on their size and thickness. You don’t want stacks that get too tall, as it’s often nice to cap the books with an object or an accessory. And, if possible, colour coordinate them to create a visually impactful presentation that stands out.”

living room with a modular Lucite unit filled with curio
Designed by Hillary Kaplan of Mimi & Hill, a living room feels more interesting with a modular Lucite unit filled with curio.
Toni Deis Creative 

— Hillary Kaplan, principal designer and owner of Mimi & Hill design in Westfield, New Jersey

Create a Custom-Crafted Look 

“One of the reasons I love using modular shelving is for its flexibility. There are so many options for both open shelving as well as closed storage units. This type of shelving can also be hung on the wall to free up floor space below.

“In my office, I used a longer-sized unit along the length of the wall and then, where the shelf overlapped a desk, I used a shorter unit to give it a custom built-in feel. Leaving some bigger spaces in on some rows of shelving allows you to situate larger items, such as artwork or lamps, to make it look more styled. Some modular shelving units even let you add a small desk as part of the shelves.

“In a bedroom, you can have the shelves encase the bed to create a sort of alcove with built-in nightstands on either side. The options are endless.”

wood, modular unit
A wood, modular unit, lends a curated look to an office designed by Jessica Davis.
Emily Followill

— Jessica Davis of Atelier Davis, a design studio based in New York and Atlanta

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New research from Knight Frank’s International Waterfront Index shows waterfront properties are costing more than double their inland counterparts in Sydney while in Melbourne waterside properties attract a 40% premium.

Australia’s coastline attracts some of the highest waterfront premiums in the world with Sydney topping the index — an average premium of 121% — compared to an equivalent home set away from the water.

Auckland ranked second on the list of 17 international locations — a premium of 76%. The list saw Gold Coast (71%), Perth (69%) and the Cap d’Antibes (59%) on the French Riviera round out the top 5.

Australia continued to feature prominently in the research with Brisbane’s waterfront premium coming in at 55%, with Melbourne also in the top 10 at 39%.

According to Knight Frank Australia’s head of residential research, Michelle Ciesielski, there has always been strong appetite for Sydney’s waterfront homes.

Australia’s luxury residential market has advanced, it lacks the depth of prestige markets in more established global cities said Cieselski.

“As a result, our Australian cities can achieve a significantly higher premium on the waterfront compared to a similar property inland without access to, or a view of, water,” she said.

“Also, Australia is known for its balmy outdoor lifestyle, so many buyers in this super-prime space are willing to pay a premium to secure the ideal position along the waterfront.”

The data also suggests that beachfront homes were most desirable, commanding a premium of 63% compared to harbour locations fetching 62% premium and coastal homes with a 40% premium.