Although floating or quasi-floating shelves are generally designed to look light, with the proper design and installation elements, they can be robust and handle weight as well as any conventional bookshelf. Many options are available, from true floating shelves, to less expensive floating shelf options, as well as shelves with built-in lights, or shelves that work around corners.
UPPER EAST SIDE
Built-in elegance with floating shelves
These are "true" floating shelves; they are hanging on posts that are screwed into the concrete layer of the wall.
We first ripped out the existing drywall, had metal custom brackets fabricated, and then screwed these into the concrete layer of the wall. We then rebuilt over the wall with venetian plaster, leaving just the posts coming out. Then we slid the floating walnut shelves over the posts. This allowed for rock-solid support, with no visible means of support.
The TV is also "floating"; TV wires go into the wall and emerge into the cradenza below to tie into the audio video gear. This hides all the wires. The white rectangles on the shelves are lacquered storage boxes with hinged lids.
Rustic "floating" bookshelves for heavy objects
These wall shelves were for a couple that lived in a classic building off the Brooklyn Heights promenade. The couple worked in publishing, and had a lot of books to store. These shelves are supported by thin metal wall straps painted to match the wall behind it; this is a good alternative to more expensive "true" floating shelves, and generally works well when there are a lot of things to put on the shelves (it does not work so well when the shelves are spare, since the straps would be noticeable). The shelves are dark-stained walnut.
As an add-on, we repaired their reclaimed wood dining room table, which had sentimental value.
Floating shelves with exposed brackets
This floating shelf installed on a brick wall features exposed brackets, for a casual look that goes well with the eclectic decor.