Small spaces are especially prone to clutter, and there's not always enough room to utilize freestanding storage solutions. Declutter a narrow hallway or messy bathroom with this DIY recessed shelf. Perfect for holding hair products or displaying favorite decor items, this shelf sits right in the wall so it doesn't protrude into limited space. While this project might seem like a job for a professional, it's completely doable with the right tips and tools. Follow along with our instructions to learn how to build a recessed wall shelf and check this weekend project off your to-do list.
To do this, choose a small section (3 x 3 inches) of wall between studs where you want your shelf to go. Use a drywall saw to cut out a square while holding the saw at a 45-degree angle. (This will prevent the piece from falling into the wall.) Place a pocket-size mirror into the hole and use a flashlight to look for any obstructions in the way of where you want your recessed shelf to sit.
Measure how tall you'd like to make your shelf (we made ours 16 x 16 inches) and how high up you'd like it to be installed. Use the drywall saw to cut out drywall between studs, using a stud finder to be exact. Remove drywall and set aside.
Build Box Sides
Cut small sheet board and craft board to the dimensions of the interior shelf. This should include a back to the shelf, 4-inch-deep sides, and a 1- to 2-inch lip to go around the shelf. The lip frames should be cut at a 45-degree angle.
Line the sides of the shelf with wood glue as shown above. Place the cut craft board directly on top of the box structure and press down. Let dry.
Once glue is dry, drill one screw in the middle of each side. First, measure and mark 3/8 inch from the edge. Drill pilot holes followed by screws. Set aside.
Credit: Jay Wilde
Credit: Jay Wilde
Build Shelf Lip
Use wood glue to press the corners of the shelf lip together. Let dry. Line the shelf structure with wood glue, and place the shelf lip directly on top. Press down and let dry. Use a hammer and finishing nails to secure the lip to the shelf as shown above. Use two nails per side.
Apply wood putty to all seams in the shelf using a flat putty knife. Let dry. Sand away excess putty until smooth and wipe with a clean cloth. The wood putty will dry to match the color of the wood and will help conceal the seams and holes made by the finishing nails. Stain and paint shelf, if desired.
Insert Shelf and Attach to Wall
Carefully place shelf into drywall hole. Attach shelf to wall studs by drilling pilot holes and screws into the sides of the shelf. There should be two screws on each stud-facing side.