How to Make a Bathroom Shelf with Built-In Towel Rod

Whether it's used for decoration or storage, this DIY shelf will be the star of your bathroom.

mint green bathroom vanity and shelf

In a tiny bathroom where you have to get creative with space, a shelf can stand in for a medicine cabinet. Attach a wood dowel between two shelf brackets and you can create 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. Suddenly, you have a custom-built shelf that serves multiple purposes. We show you how to make this DIY floating bathroom shelf in our helpful steps below.

See more unique DIY shelf ideas here. 

What You Need

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

Step 1: Install Dowel

Cut shelf board to your desired length using a hand saw, circular saw, or table saw, depending on what you have available. Sand the edges smooth. Measure and cut a wood dowel to a length that fits between the two brackets. Smooth cut edges with sandpaper. Drill holes 1/2-inch deep into the shelf brackets with a drill bit that matches the dowel's diameter. Dab wood glue into the holes and fit dowel between the brackets.

Step 2: Adhere Wood Plugs

To adhere wood plugs along the shelf's front and side edges, dab wood glue onto one plug at a time, press to shelf edge, and hold for a few seconds until set. You can also use trim or carved molding to suit your style. If you decide to use trim, tack with a nail in addition to gluing. 

Step 3: Attach Top and Finish

To join the brackets and top shelf, 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. Repeat, marking the placement of the opposite bracket. Drill the brackets and board together, countersinking screw heads 1/8 inch. Fill holes with wood putty and smooth with a putty knife or your finger. Let dry. Sand residue until smooth. Prime and paint shelf in your desired color. 

To anchor the shelf to the wall, you'll first need to locate the studs with a stud finder. You can either drill the brackets right into the wall studs using a pocket hole method, or attach with your choice of wall fastener. 

Learn how to use a stud finder here.

Here's a simple way to make a pocket hole. 

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