What is an étagère?
Étagère translates to shelf, and is essentially an open display furniture piece for objects and collectibles.
I think simply by using the French word étagère, it implies something delicate and refined. Technically any open shelving unit could be an étagère, though I think what separates one from, say, the shelves storing tools and cleaning supplies in your garage, is the idea that what sits on these shelves is something you want to look at every day and/or show off.
Here are some that I love.
What can you display on an étagère? The bigger question is, what do you like to look at every day? For me, it would be a box that Nate Berkus gave me, a brass bird that reminds me of an old client, agate I bought at a town along Lake Superior, pottery made by an old friend, as well as framed photos and my favorite books.