DIY Floating Shelves

First off, please excuse the crummy before shots. Blame my phone! Anyway, I’ve been in need of some office organization for a while. I just had boxes and papers everywhere. Ok, im slightly embarassed to show this… but this is what my office was looking like for weeks:

Yikes! I know! We just didnt have a filing cabinet so we had stacks of papers everywhere and there just wasnt enough space in there for everything. Thanks to my DIY vintage trunk filing cabinet, I’m halfway to organization!  So i also decided i needed some more shelving space. So on the far right wall, i switched out that small wooden shelf for a larger vintage metal one (you’ll see it in the after pictures). And i decided to make floating shelves!

I have small floating shelves from Target but they are very poorly made and easily pull screws out of the wall. I really wanted to make something more substantial. Since i follow Young House Love everyday, i knew where i needed to go. Ana White did a floating shelf how-to on their site over here so i went to check that out. If you dont know either of those bloggers, you definitely need to check them out. Anyway, so on the how-to, Ana put together a digital guide to show you how to build them. I went with this concept because its a really solid construction and goes directly into studs. Since my wall was a lot smaller, i went with 4ft shelves instead of 6. The three graphics/images below are by Ana White!

I just really liked the simplicity of these shelves and the solid construction of them so i went to work! Go to the step by step how to for details.

I also got to use my fancy Laser guided Miter Saw for the first time on this project! Woot! Maybe one of the best gifts we got on the registry. And my favorite part? It was one of Kenny’s friends that got it for him so that he could actually have something as a wedding gift too… little did he know it was actually for me 🙂 Of course, as always… i had to use my (teeny tiny) side porch to use this sucker. Cant wait for a garage.

Once i had all my wood cut, nailed, glued and all put together, it was time to paint! Since I painted these shelves the same grey (That was Kennys vote instead of “boring white”) as the vintage chest so it made sense to paint them at the same time.

Here is what i used:

  • Paint – Olympic All in one paint + primer in semi gloss
  • Minwax Polycrylic protective finish
  • Small foam roller (get a high quality dense foam. trust me, its worth it)
  • Paint tray
  • screwdriver

The trick is to do multiple THIN layers. Lay it on thick and you’ll get lots of bubbles and drips. Eww. So here it is after 2 thin layers.  For these you dont need an angled brush so pretend thats not there. Here are the shelves after one thin layer. I did three layers for these guys and didn’t take much paint at all. I used one quart for these three shelves and the vintage trunk. And then spilt the rest on the carpet. but thats another story.

I threw them up on the wall to check how well they were spaced, if they were balanced, etc.

Im going to be honest because, well… thats what blogs are for. This project was a horrible pain in the butt. Lets just put together a list of all the things that went wrong:

  • Since i dont have the best set up to cut plywood, i had them cut it in the store. Which they cut horribly wrong. So i had to go buy more plywood from a different shop. Which also cut them wrong.
  • The 1X2s were just slightly warped (though they were the straightest i could find in the store) which made one of the entire shelves horribly warped so i had to go buy more 1x2s.
  • i used my fancy new miter saw to cut the 1X2s and smashed the crap out of my thumb. thankfully i didnt cut it off.
  • Since i dont have a nail gun, to nail the plywood on the 1x2s i had to nail them by hand. smashed the crap out of my thumb. again.
  • The screws i used initially would BREAK OFF INTO THE WALL. The metal was just too weak even thought they are wood screws. Yes, there are maybe 4 different screws stuck in the wall. (Dont tell my landlord) So i had to make new holes for new screws. Kennys dad just happened to have bad ass screws in his car so he gave me a handful of them. I just highly suggest spending extra on higher quality screws.
  • If you read over here, you already know that Maggie (the puppy) spilt the entire can of paint onto the drop cloth and seeped into our carpet (PLEASE, dont tell my landlord! Hopefully my landlord doesnt read this…)
  • Once they were all together and on the wall i realized they were sagging! Without even anything on them! I talked to my dad in law (aka carpenter extraordinaire) and he says to A. either use brackets or B. screw the right side into the wall. Because of the way these shelves are built, i cant go with B and A would make sense if i had solid shelves. They dont sag TOO much so i decided just to leave them as is and deal with the fact that they arent perfect. by any means.
  • I also used a filler that didnt do a good job at filling so theres about 57 blemishes. Im ok with it for the most part but they are very far from flawless.
  • They can’t hold much weight. Considering i needed to put boxes and books on them, basically this whole project ended in shelves for decoration. Which of course, im ok with but its not what i needed.
So to conclude… this was one of the most frustrating projects I’ve done. I think if i were to do this all over again, i would just go with solid wood and brackets. Thats not my ideal visually but they would be much sturdier and better for what i needed them for. If you want shelves that dont hold a ton of weight and just want them to look good, then go for it!

With all that said, i am happy how everything turned out. My office is much more clean and organized and its really been staying like that. Plus it was fun to decorate these beauties with some fun new artwork.

Oh, and I just got this cute shelf from Home Goods. Love it! It has that vintage feel and cute little drawers. Im a sucker for little drawers.

I’ll have the whole office before and after soon!



5 responses

  1. Pingback: Clutter, Clutter, Clutter | Rad Design

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