3 Stylish DIY Shelves

A simple shelf with innovative style can change the look and feel of your rooms. Check out our instructions for three different ways to get this look.


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If your entryway is too narrow for a table or bench, hang a slim shelf instead, and then use it to harbor mail and artwork. We topped a trio of sleek metal brackets with a rustic antique floorboard. Installing basic brackets and shelves is easy: Mount brackets to wall, trim shelf as desired, affix to top of brackets, and enjoy.

What You Need

  • Brackets (Convex Steel Bracket; $7 each, www.leevalleyhardware.com)
  • Board (ours is antique from www.elmwoodreclaimedtimber.com)
  • Level (4-foot is best)
  • Electronic stud finder
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Wall anchors (if needed)
  • Pencil

Make It

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  1. Begin by finding the location of the studs in your walls. Studs are generally placed 16 or 24 inches apart, measuring from center to center. With that in mind, once you've located one stud, finding the others is easy.
  2. Roll stud finder over the wall; when its light blinks green, it has located a stud. Mark that location for your first bracket. It's important to drill directly into the center of a stud.
  3. Measure out 3/4 inch from your center mark and draw vertical lines to represent the edges of the stud. You can add an X to make the center mark more visible.
  4. Use the stud finder again to find the locations of the remaining studs and mark for your shelf brackets. Remember, their locations will be either 16 or 24 inches from the center mark of your first stud.
  5. To align the marks (and the brackets) so they are straight and level, use a 4-foot level or laser-line level. Mark a horizontal line directly through the second and third fastener locations.
  6. Drill brackets to wall studs using screws or wall anchors appropriate to the weight of your board, its contents, and the type of walls (plaster or drywall). Not sure which to use? Ask your hardware store for assistance. The brackets come with holes in their backs for you to drill the screw through.
  7. Place board atop brackets. To fasten the board to brackets, drill screws up into the board through holes in the shelf bracket's top. If your wood is dense, first drill pilot holes to accept the screw more easily.
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Get more easy how-tos from Home Depot's Storage 1-2-3, available at your local Home Depot Store.

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Elegant curved brackets and a plain board trimmed with carved molding make a dreamy bedside table. Here's how to build and install one yourself.

What You Need

  • Brackets (Victorian, $13 each; www.vandykesrestorers.com)
  • 1-inch-x-12-inch-x-3-foot board (we used ChoiceWood poplar board, $23, Lowe's)
  • 8-foot-long trim molding (Acanthus, $7, Lowe's)
  • Miter box with a hand saw with small teeth (or power miter saw)
  • Sandpaper
  • Caulk
  • Wood putty
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Tape measure
  • Nail set
  • Clamps
  • Screws
  • Pencil
  • Primer and paint
  • Paintbrush

Make It

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  1. To cut the trim's beveled edges, you will need to make angled, or mitered, cuts, to create miter joints. A miter joint is made of two pieces that are angle-cut at the same angle and joined together to create a 90-degree corner.
  2. To make the cuts, you will need a plastic miter box like the one illustrated here, and a handsaw. The easiest way to cut molding, however, is with a power miter saw.
  3. Set the miter saw to 45 degrees. Begin with one of the side trim pieces. Place the uncut trim against the board's left side edge and mark a diagonal pencil line slightly beyond the width of the shelf to allow for enough trim length for a 45-degree angle cut. Clamp the trim to the miter box and your work surface. Cut at the mark.
  4. Sand after all cuts.
  5. Hold the piece again alongside the shelf edge and mark where the straight edge needs to be. Cut here with the blade or miter box set to 90 degrees.
  6. For the long front edge, cut a trim piece with 45-degree angles on both ends. Cut remaining side trim piece like the first. Place the three trims against the shelf's edges to ensure they fit and modify if they don't. Nail trim to shelf. Countersink nails using nail set. Hide nail holes with caulk and gaps at trim corners with caulk. Prime and paint as desired.
  7. To finish, position first bracket against the shelf bottom at desired location. (Ideally, you will be fastening at least one bracket to a stud in the wall.) To attach the shelf top, drill down into the shelf top and into the bracket, recessing the screw about 1/8 inch into the wood. Do this at the front and back. Repeat for remaining bracket. Fill screw holes with caulk or wood putty. Prime and paint.
  8. Attach shelf to studs in wall. Your brackets come with keyhole anchors bored into their back faces. You will hang these keyhole slots onto protruding screws in your wall. To accomplish this, place a screw into the wall, ideally into a stud, but allow the screw to protrude enough from the wall to hang the keyhole bracket on. Install second screw using a tape measure and level for accuracy.
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Get more easy how-tos from Better Homes and Gardens' Cabinets and Shelves. Find it at local bookstores.

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In a tiny bathroom, a shelf can stand in for a medicine cabinet. Attach a wood dowel between the two brackets and you get a built-in towel bar. Paint the shelf to match the walls, and perk up its edges with wood disks (called dowel plugs) glued along the front and sides.

What You Need

  • Brackets (#KWF406; $6 each, Lowe's)
  • 1x8 board, cut to desired length
  • 5/8-inch dowel
  • 1-inch flathead dowel plugs ($1.68/bag, Lowe's)
  • Saw
  • Wood glue
  • Drill
  • Level
  • Electronic stud finder
  • Primer and paint
  • Pencil
  • Paintbrush

Make It

  1. Cut shelf board. Measure and cut a wood dowel to a length that fits between the two brackets. Drill holes 1/2 inch deep into the shelf brackets with a drill bit that matches the dowel's diameter. Dab glue into holes and fit in dowel between the brackets.
  2. To adhere wood plugs along the shelf's front and side edges, dab glue onto one plug at a time, press to shelf edge, and hold for a few seconds until set.
  3. To join the brackets and top, place one shelf bracket against the underside of the board. Mark its position, factoring in the location of the wall stud you will be anchoring the shelf to. Drill bracket and board together, countersinking screw heads 1/8 inch. Fill holes with wood putty. Let dry. Sand residue. Prime and paint shelf. Anchor to wall following directions on previous page.
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