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Decorative Shelf Brackets

Inspired by Victorian-era designs, these metal supports add instant charm to open shelving

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Once a handwrought luxury item, ornate metalwork became accessible to all after the Civil War, as the economy boomed and the mass manufacture of decorative hardware hit its stride. By the late 19th century, elaborately detailed brackets made of cast iron or brass turned up in houses supporting everything from wall-hung sinks to library shelves. Catalogs from the period featured a wide range of styles that reflected the over-the-top Victorian aesthetic. These days, as more homeowners opt for open shelving in kitchens and baths, reproduction-style brackets are enjoying a resurgence.

Here, 15 of our favorite options.

Loop and tie

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 9 1/8"D x 11 1/8"H

Made of: Powder-coated cast iron.

Highlight: This simple rope-and-knot design could suggest a nautical look.

Cost: $20; Signature Hardware

Nature theme

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 7 1/8"D x 6 3/4"H

Made of: Cast iron with a rust finish.

Highlight: Flora and fauna get a suitably weathered patina.

Cost: $14; House of Antique Hardware

Scrollwork

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 9 1/8"D x 8 7/8"H

Made of: Iron with a distressed finish.

Highlight: Worn paint emphasizes every curve.

Cost: $65 per pair; Van Dyke's Restorers

Oak-leaf motif

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 11"D x 9"H

Made of: Cast iron with a brown finish.

Highlight: Acorns project from a leafy tree branch.

Cost: $14; Iron Accents

Heavy metal

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 7 1/2"D x 4 3/4"H

Made of: Powder-coated cast iron.

Highlight: Subtle in size, this gleaming bracket has a hefty presence.

Cost: $41 per pair; Van Dyke's Restorers

Brass tack

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 7 3/4"D x 9 1/2"H

Made of: Lacquered cast brass.

Highlight: Fleurs-de-lis decorate this elegant option.

Cost: $18; House of Antique Hardware

Delicate detail

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 6 3/4"D x 9 1/4"H

Made of: Iron with a distressed white finish.

Highlight: Small-scale ornamentation is set off by an antiqued paint finish.

Cost: $30; Signature Hardware

Romanesque

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 9"D x 9 7/8"H

Made of: Aluminum with a nickel finish.

Highlight: Pillars and arches give this one architectural flair.

Cost: $20; Historic House Parts

In the round

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 8 5/8"D x 8 5/8"H

Made of: Cast iron with a rust finish.

Highlight: This pick will continue to oxidize, aging gracefully.

Cost: $29; Signature Hardware

Airy arch

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 6 1/2"D x 6 3/4"H

Made of: Cast iron with a rust finish.

Highlight: This slim, simple profile won’t weigh down a skinny shelf.

Cost: $13; Signature Hardware

In gear

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 8 3/4"D x 8 3/4"H

Made of: Powder-coated cast iron.

Highlight: A steampunk take on a Victorian-era look.

Cost: $20; Signature Hardware

Craftsman

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 7 1/2"D x 9 1/2"H

Made of: Solid brass with an antiqued finish.

Highlight: This geometric pattern has a distinct Arts and Crafts feel.

Cost: $24; Van Dyke's Restorers

Verdigris

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 9"D x 9 1/2"H

Made of: Cast iron with a weathered finish.

Highlight: This green accent will perk up painted or stained wood boards.

Cost: $24; Anthropologie

Climbing vines

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 7 1/8"D x 8 3/16"H

Made of: Cast iron with an antiqued finish.

Highlight: Leafy tendrils reach up to lend support.

Cost: $18; House of Antique Hardware

Gothic look

Photo by Andrew Mccaul

Size: 8"D x 12"H

Made of: Powder-coated cast iron.

Highlight: Ornate details suggest flying buttresses for your shelves.

Cost: $22; House of Antique Hardware