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Justin Kooiman

Owner, Obsidian Manufacturing

Transform Your Space: How Custom Glass Displays Can Redefine Interiors


Glass displays are becoming an increasingly popular trend in home décor and interior design. Unlike traditional shelving and cabinetry made from wood, glass offers a lightweight, elegant, and modern look that can instantly elevate any space. From glass-fronted cabinets to wall-mounted glass shelves, there is ample opportunity to incorporate this versatile material.

But what takes glass displays to the next level is customization. Ordering custom-sized and made glass shelving, cabinets, and displays allows you to perfectly fit your functional and aesthetic needs. Customization also enables creativity in areas like mixed dimensions, specialized lighting, and even etched artwork on the glass.

In this in-depth guide, we will explore all the possibilities of using custom glass displays to redefine the interiors of your home or office. From choosing the right type of glass to creative display arrangement ideas, we have covered everything you need to plan your next glass display installation. We have also answered some frequently asked questions about maintaining glass displays so they can retain their shining beauty for years to come.

So whether you already have a glass display in mind or are just beginning to consider one for an upcoming redecorating project, read on to discover how custom glass can utterly transform your space!

Benefits of Custom Glass Displays

There are many excellent reasons to choose custom glass displays for your home or office interiors. Here are some of the top benefits:

Reflects Light and Creates the Illusion of More Space

Glass is inherently highly reflective, allowing it to bounce both natural and artificial light around a room. This brightening effect makes spaces seem larger and airier. Glass displays achieve this luminous quality while also adding your choice of beautiful objects to catch and reflect the light.

Design Versatility – Fits Any Style

Another top benefit of custom glass displays is their innate versatility when it comes to design aesthetics. This is why expert interior designers often choose custom glass shelving and cabinetry to instantly elevate rooms. The transparent neutrality of clear glass shelves and cabinets pairs attractively with styles ranging from Industrial and Farmhouse to Midcentury Modern and Contemporary. For a unique twist, frosted or patterned textured glass can lend additional visual interest.

Practicality – Easy to Clean and Durable

Unlike wood shelves and cabinets, glass displays accumulate very little dust and are a breeze to clean. Their smooth non-porous surface easily wipes clean with a microfiber cloth or dusts in moments with a feather duster. Durability is also excellent compared to materials like particle board. When tempered or laminated glass is used, displays can even withstand the rigors of high-traffic areas.

In addition to these general perks, ordering custom-sized glass displays enables you to perfectly integrate shelving and cabinetry into your floorplan. Have a strangely sized nook or a large blank accent wall? Custom glass openings and shelves make it possible.

Ideal Locations for Stunning Glass Displays

Glass display(shelve)

Glass shelving and cabinet displays visually enhance almost any room they are placed in. However, they are exceptionally well-suited for accenting certain spaces. If you are looking for the perfect spot to install your custom glassware, consider the following rooms:

Living Rooms

The living room tends to be where we relax and gather with friends and family. It is often one of the largest and most decorated spaces in the home as well. For these reasons, the living room is a top location for eye-catching glass shelving installations. Glass shelves or curio cabinets spotlight your treasures while reflecting light around the room.

Dining Rooms

Another excellent contender for glass displays is the dining area. Glass-fronted china hutches maintain the visibility of beloved dishware collections while protecting them from dust. Complementary open shelving provides ideal platforms for alternating what ceramics and serves you wish to put on exhibit.

Kitchens – Open Shelving or Glass Cabinet Fronts

Kitchens also benefit immensely from the strategic use of glass displays. Glass-fronted upper cabinets create a lighter, airier look. The contents remain visible, reducing the need to open doors to find what you need. Open glass shelving is also a classic way to exhibit pretty cookware or frequently used items.

Bathrooms – Small or Large

Do not overlook the potential for glass displays in the bathroom. A set of glass corner shelves or a glass-fronted medicine cabinet cleanly showcases towels, toiletries, and bath accessories. Larger bathrooms can even accommodate stunning stand-alone glass curio cabinets.

Other areas to consider for eye-catching glass displays include bedrooms, offices, and entryways. The possibilities are nearly endless for adding beauty and elegance with this adaptable material.

Customizing Glass Shelving Design & Safety

Ordering customized glass shelving opens up creative possibilities limited only by your imagination. When planning your perfect display, here are some key design elements to consider:


Have an awkward narrow space or a large expansive wall needing décor? One of the top perks of customized shelving is selecting perfect proportions. Specify glass shelf lengths, depths, and thicknesses to flawlessly fit your needs. Mixing shelving dimensions in one installation creates added visual dynamism.

Hanging Systems

Glass shelves require a support structure. Choose from sleek modern metal brackets, industrial piping, or even cabling systems. Glass can also be reinforced to span gaps between ledger boards mounted on the wall. This “floating” look sets off a display for an impressively light appearance.

Glass Types

Clear glass and its elegant transparency are a top choice for shelving. For extra design flair, etched, frosted, colored, and textured glass is also possible. Textured glass options like bamboo or crackled ice glass lend shelving additional depth and visual interest.

Safety Glass

For glass shelves holding heavier objects or installed along traffic paths where accidental impact is possible, safety glass is recommended. Tempered glass shatters into small pebble-like granules instead of sharp shards. The laminated glass features an inner layer holding broken pieces in place. Both prevent serious injuries.

To learn more about the difference between tempered glass and laminated glass. Read their article on the differences between laminated and tempered Glass.

Creative Backdrops for Glass Shelving

A beautiful glass display relies not only on the shelves themselves but also on the backdrop visually supporting them. Whether mounted on a single wall or built into cabinetry, consider the following backdrop options:

Painted Accent Walls

Paint is likely the simplest but most dramatic choice for showcasing glass shelving. For floor-to-ceiling displays, paint the entire wall in a bold hue. To highlight a singular shelving unit, just paint the area immediately surrounding and behind the installation. Choose a color that complements your décor style and glassware collections.


Much like paint, wallpaper offers countless patterns and colors to provide a striking backdrop. Use a vibrant print, textural grasscloth, or modern geometric design as your glass shelving backdrop. Tailor the wallpaper to the exact proportions of the shelves or extend it across entire walls or rooms.

Built-in Mirrors

Mirrors reflect and amplify surrounding light and imagery. Have a large mirror custom-cut and mounted to run the vertical length of your glass shelving. This expands the display’s appearance and showcases twice the treasures. Horizontal mirror backing inside glass cabinetry achieves similar effects.

Artwork/Wall Hangings

Wall art, tapestries, and other hanging décor make excellent companions for glass shelving. Groupings of family photos, abstract paintings, floating shelves, and macramé wall hangings enhance the visual vignettes displayed on the glass shelves themselves.

Lighting Up Glass Shelving Displays

One of the hallmarks of a striking glass shelving installation is strategic lighting. Adequately illuminate your displayed items while also enabling the glass itself to sparkle. Consider these glass display lighting ideas:

Floor Lamps and Table Lamps

Position floor lamps or table lamps near your shelving installation. Opt for adjustable lamp heads to angle light precisely where needed. Choose lampshades made of transparent or translucent materials so the light shines through.

Overhead Ceiling Lights

Properly positioned overhead lighting readily brightens open glass shelving. LED ceiling lights are optimal to minimize energy use. Install track lighting or recessed adjustable lights for the greatest directional control.

LED Cabinet Lighting

For glass shelving inside cabinetry, attached LED strip lighting is ideal. LED cabinet lighting comes self-adhesive for installing inside cabinet frames or shelving. Many options include remote controls to change color temperatures and dimness.

Flameless Candles

Strategically placed flameless candles, especially those with flickering bulbs, add a cozy ambiance to glass shelving displays. Nestle electric candles amongst vignettes or line them along the edges of shelves. Just be cautious of placing true wax candles directly on glass shelves.

Whatever lighting you choose, remember that the goal is adequately spotlighting the displayed items themselves while allowing the beautiful transparent nature of the glass to visibly shine as well.

Curating A Cohesive Collection

With endless possibilities for objects to display, glass shelves beg to be styled and curated rather than haphazardly filled. Follow these tips for curating a visually cohesive collection:

Books, Plants, Ceramic Vases, Dishes

Some of the most striking glass shelf displays incorporate books, plants, ceramic vases, and dishes. Alternate these items both vertically and horizontally for visual dynamism. Mix different shapes, sizes, and colors but within a compatible palette.

Wood Bowls, Glassware, Sculptures

Collections of wood bowls, glassware, and small sculptures also coordinate beautifully on glass shelves. Create stacks and vignettes using pieces that share target style aspects. For example, showcase all mercury glass objects, items in a single predominant color, or natural wood tones.

Rotate Seasonal Décor

Glass shelves readily lend themselves to rotating seasonal collections. Incorporate holiday dishes, evergreen sprigs and ribbons, unique pumpkin displays, faux flowers, and collectible Easter eggs to freshen your shelves for each season.

Cohesive Style

Regardless of the specific items displayed, maintain a cohesive style throughout glass shelving installations. For a boho chic look, incorporate pieces like macramé hangers, desert rose crystals, and embroidered linens. Or take a minimalist approach by limiting accessorizing and negative space.

Thoughtfully curating displayed items enables your collection to delight both visually and emotionally. Allow your glass shelves to showcase what makes you uniquely you.

Arranging Displays for Maximum Visual Interest

Becoming adept at artfully arranging your treasured items takes your glass displays from mundane to museum-worthy. Apply these techniques:

Vary Item Heights

Glass shelves readily enable you to create dimensional displays by incorporating items of various heights. Stand books on the end and lean artwork against the wall. Flank these vertical elements with blocks of horizontal groupings. The mixing of tall, short, and mid-sized pieces intrigues the eye.

Cluster in Odd Numbers

Odd numbers feel more organic and less contrived to our eyes than groupings of 2 or 4. Arrange items in loose clusters of 3, 5, or 7 for a natural aesthetic. Repeat these arrangements in a roughly pyramidal style down the shelving installation.

Leave Some Negative Space

While it’s tempting to cram glass shelves full of beautiful things, restraint allows your displays to feel curated rather than cluttered. Leave at least 20-30% of the shelves bare to give groupings what designers call “negative space” to breathe.

Place Larger Items on Lower Shelves

There is a practical logic to placing larger items on easily reachable lower shelves. However, it also adds extra stability and visual weight anchoring the entire display to the bottom. Continue the pyramid-like shape working upwards to the smallest accessory items on the highest shelves.

Take cues from gallery stylists and allow each precisely chosen piece room to shine while contributing to the overall staged effect. Soon you will have friends and family convinced a professional designed your stunning glass displays!

Cleaning and Caring for Glass Shelving

Keeping glass displays sparkling and dust-free honors both the glass surfaces and precious items being showcased. But constant fussing and moving things to scrub every corner is tiring. Follow these cleaning strategies to simplify glass shelving care:

Dusting – Weekly with Duster

For quick whole-room dust removal weekly, utilize a quality feather duster with long soft bristles. Anti-static microfiber dusters attract and cling to fine dust particles. Gently skim duster brushes over the glass surfaces without shifting around items.

Glass Cleaner – Monthly Deeper Cleaning

Schedule a monthly deeper cleaning session for your glass displays. Have newspaper or a microfiber cloth and commercial glass cleaner ready. Remove all items from shelves and place them on a protected work surface before beginning. Apply glass cleaner to a cloth and wipe down all glass areas until free of oils, water spots, and debris. Fully buff dry using fresh newspaper pages.

Schedule Deep Cleaning As Needed

Depending on traffic and environmental dust and grime, annually or bi-annually perform an intensive deep cleaning. Use the above steps but also remove glass shelves from brackets and soak in warm water with a mild detergent solution. Use a soft bristle brush gently on textured glass surfaces only. Dry and replace glass before replacing displayed objects.

Implementing regular care strategies keeps glass display maintenance from becoming overwhelming. Soon caring for your dazzling installation will feel like second nature!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some style tips for curating my glass display?

When curating a glass display, create cohesive vignettes by choosing items with unifying aspects like color schemes, textures, or genres. For example, you may create a display using all items made from natural wood tones and ceramics. Or arrange only mercury glass candles and vases for an antique apothecary look.

How do I properly clean textured or etched glass?

Use a very soft lint-free microfiber cloth and gently wipe textured glass to avoid snagging delicate etched areas. Do not use abrasive scrub brushes. For frequent cleaning, invest in removable acrylic glass shelf covers to protect the underlying glass texture.

What lighting works best to illuminate glass shelves?

Opt for lighting that shines both downwards on the displayed items as well as upwards to highlight the glass shelves themselves. Install floating shelf brackets allowing light to shine underneath. Use adjustable track lighting or table lamps fitted with transparent lampshades.

How do I order custom-sized glass shelving and displays?

Search for reputable local glass shops in your area that offer custom glass fabrication and installation services. Many can create made-to-order glass shelves, cabinet inserts, tabletops, and full displays tailored to your exact sizing needs. Expect to pay anywhere from $50-$150 per linear foot.

What are the best backdrops for glass wall shelves?

Some excellent glass display backdrops include mirrors, wallpaper, painting the walls a bold accent shade, or hanging art and tapestries behind the shelves. Ensure your backdrop choice complements the rest of the room’s color scheme and décor style.

What safety standards should glass shelves meet?

Look stamping along the edges of glass shelves indicating they meet modern safety standards like ANSI Z97.1. Tempered and laminated glass construction ensures reduced injuries if breakage occurs. Only purchase custom glass from specialized glaziers using safety-rated materials.


Custom glass displays offer seemingly endless possibilities for redefining your home or office’s aesthetic. From stunning glass-fronted cabinets to creatively arranged wall shelving, glass proves itself exceptionally versatile and undeniably elegant.

Ordering tailored dimensions and specialized details enables flawlessly integrating displays into your existing architecture and décor. Frosted texturing, etched designs, interesting support brackets, and mixed glass types further expand customization opportunities.

Artfully illuminating and arranging your curated collections takes displays from impressive to genuinely breathtaking. Caring for glass materials through gentle regular cleaning ensures lasting sparkling beauty.

So whether you wish to spotlight a treasured dishware collection, create an indoor garden oasis, or design a moody candlescape, custom glass shelving makes visions into realities. Transform any forgotten nook or lackluster wall into a conversation-starting focal point when you discover the magic of glass displays!

If reading about the wonders of custom glass displays has sparked dreams of your own stunning installation, the master artisans at Obsidian Manufacturing can make those creative visions a reality.

Their exceptional design and fabrication services create one-of-a-kind custom glass display cases, shelving, cabinetry, tabletops, and more. Precision is paired with imagination resulting in functional artistry handcrafted for your residential or commercial space.

With expertise in specialty finishes like etching, texturing, and mixed mediums, no concept is out of reach. Watch your unique collections and style come to life in custom glass displays expertly tailored to your exact specifications.

Contact Obsidian MFG today to schedule a design consultation and set your dreams in exquisite motion.