WHAT ARE CORBELS? AND HOW YOU CAN I USE THEM

Posted by Jason MetaFields on

Decorative Uses of corbels

Delightful home decor is in the details that transform your home, inside and out, from bland to beautiful.  A simple way to add delightful details is with decorative corbels.

What are corbels? Simply put, they are decorative supports jutting out from a wall. The vertical and horizontal parts of the corbel form a right angle with the vertical being attached to the wall and the horizontal attached to the shelf or counter being supported.         

All Kinds of Corbels

Corbels can be wood, metal, resin, plaster, new or vintage, plain or intricately carved. Besides adding beauty to your home, they are also very functional, whether holding up shelving, framing doorways or serving as bookends.

After deciding to use corbels because of their functionality and beauty, where do you start? Google “decorative corbels” to find photos and tips. Then, your creative home decor juices will begin to flow and you’ll see many possibilities for using corbels in your kitchen, living room, dining room, or even your library.

If you need additional creativity for using corbels visit Pinterest and you will find endless ideas such as sconces, a small lamp table next to a window, a plant stand, a towel shelf, a kitchen utensil rack and even chandeliers. 

Also, visit our corbel section to see additional uses for corbels, such as a kitchen shelf which doubles as a towel rack/pot holder.

Take to the Streets

To see corbels up close and personal, visit some historic homes or drive through a historic neighborhood in your area, particularly where there are Victorian era homes, to see how corbels are used inside and out.  Outside the home, corbels often embellish porches and eaves. Inside, they support fireplace mantels, add distinctive details under countertops, or draw eyes upward to the ceiling so that a room seems larger.

Now that you’re brimming with ideas, what’s next? Decide on a style. If you’re into Victorian, you’ll want to choose corbels that are intricately carved. If your aesthetic is more contemporary, think about corbels with clean, modern lines,

Use Your Corbel Eye

Then, look around your home to see where you might use corbels. For example, in my home, just behind my piano there is an opening above a half wall between the family room and the living room. A pillar on one side and the interior wall on the other frame the opening. Adding some decorative corbels in the upper corners would create something more interesting than just a square hole in the wall.  

In this case, the corbels would simply be decorative. But corbels can be more than decorative as they can be used to support shelving, for example. A video at www.marthastewart.com shows how to use corbels to support a media shelf under a wall-mounted TV.

For practical purposes, you’ll need to use the right size corbel in proportion to the shelving. According to various home improvement websites, corbels should be at least 2/3 the depth of the shelving. For proper support and balance, corbels should be placed about three feet apart. A Google search for installing corbels will provide you with additional details on choosing the right proportion for your corbels whether you’re using them for decorative or functional purposes.

Get to Work

Now, it’s time to purchase corbels. Then, it’s just a matter of installing the decorative and functional corbels to transform your home from bland to beautiful.


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