If you remember from our 2019 Home Project Goals post, our dining room is high on the list. I shared our chalked-painted filing cabinet turned pantry with you last week and today I’m excited to bring you a tutorial for hanging your own DIY shelves (this has been my most highly requested tutorial)!
To bring additional storage as well as some architectural interest, we decided this wall was calling out for some shelves! Actually, if we had it our way, this would be a wall we would tear down, but in the meantime we can use these “unwanted” walls to their fullest potential!
There are many wonderful shelves you can purchase “ready-to-hang,” but I needed a certain look with a specific length & depth. If “ready-to-go” is more your speed, I recommend looking at the different options at Target, Amazon, Hobby Lobby, IKEA, and Wayfair. Today, we’re doing it the DIY way!
First Things First
Before you make any purchases, the best place to start is to measure your space and add in any “boundaries” you have (I marked my light switch and vent). An unseen limitation that we have in our dining room is what’s behind the wall: our air vent. Though you can’t see it with your eyes, it’s a very important thing to mark because in our case, we were unable to drill to install a shelf bracket where the vent lies (the entire height of the wall).
From there, you can get an idea of what size shelves you’d like. Think through what you’d like to use your shelves for. That will help you decide on the depth, length, and even the height between each shelf. For our dining room, we’re planning on using our shelves for extra kitchen storage (to complement our new chalk-painted pantry), a bar and serving area for when we have company, and to add adorable seasonal touches – like all the hearts for Valentine’s Day! 😉
After you measure, decide what you’d like to use your shelves for and choose your “look.”
Choose Your Lumber
When I DIY’ed these shelves in my kitchen, I went to Lowe’s, picked out a raw wood board and wall brackets, stained the wood, and hung them (read all about it here). I learned from a lot of mistakes, but we really enjoy the look and how they make better use of our space – another wall that we’d love to be taken down if possible.
If you walk into Lowe’s, Home Depot, or any other home improvement store, you can look down their lumber aisle and find a world of opportunity! There’s different types of wood, different sizes, and some cut by the foot or some sold as-is. Depending on your budget or wood grain preference, you can choose a board, and – can you believe it – they’ll cut it for you! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a circular saw laying around (or a large enough car) to deal with anything longer than 5′, so having wood cut in-store is a wonderful feature!
I was between two different grains at Home Depot. Since I needed two 5′ boards, I was really hoping to find a 10′ board that could be cut in two pieces to save money – I’d recommend that if you can! I was also looking for a depth between 10″-12″, but I wasn’t having much luck. It was between a beautiful oak board that was sold by the foot and a pine board that was sold by 8′ boards (which meant I would have to purchase two, have them cut down to 5′, then have two 3′ pieces left over).
I ended up with the oak board because it was just beautiful and I thought that I might not have to stain it! I still haven’t decided. 😉 They cut it to my length and I was out the door!
Here’s a tip that I learned from my trip to Home Depot: If you have a board that is sold as-is (like a 10″x8′), once it’s cut, you’re unable to return it. If you purchase a board that’s sold by the foot (like mine), you can return it if you change your mind!
We’re still deciding on whether or not we’re going to stain our shelves, but we stained our kitchen shelves with Minwax Special Walnut and love how they turned out! I didn’t seal our kitchen shelves, but they look fine, though they are harder to clean off. I’m planning on sealing my dining room shelves (there are many options) and I’ll keep you updated with what I end up doing. In the meantime, you could ask your local home improvement store for suggestions.
Brackets & Other Supplies
I hunted high and low for brackets that I loved. I ended up purchasing metal shelf brackets from Amazon. They are handmade, wonderful quality, and arrived promptly. The spacing of the holes are a perfect fit with an electric drill. I also purchased anchors since my walls are plaster.
Here’s a quick snapshot of the rest of the items I used:
Hang ‘Em Up, Up, Up!
- Reference your original measurements and re-measure your space.
- Find a center point by measuring the width of the wall and dividing that number in half, then mark it in pencil on the wall.
- Decide your heights of the shelves (measure from the floor) as well as the width of where you’d like your brackets (measure from your center point) to be. We would’ve preferred to bring our brackets more toward the center point, but we had to base ours on the vent in the wall! Depending what you’re putting on the shelf, you may need more brackets!
- Measure out painter’s tape to mimic the length of the shelves and use a level to get it as close as possible.
- Place one bracket in its place, level it on the top and side, and trace the holes with a pencil.
- Repeat for the other bracket and use a measuring tape to check if the pencil holes are level from bracket to bracket. I’m adding this step since mine were not level the first try! 😉
- Use a drill bit slightly larger than the screw to drill holes into the wall (for the anchors to be placed in).
- After the anchors are installed, place your bracket up on the wall (make sure it’s the right end since there are two lengths of the bracket) and use the electric screwdriver to secure the bracket. Before moving onto the next screw, level the bracket again. Repeat for the second screw.
- Once both brackets are up, put the wood board up! Use a level to confirm that the shelf is level.
- If your board is stained and/or sealed, you’ll want to secure the shelf to the bracket! Otherwise they’ll be a little wobbly and you definitely don’t want these shelves to fall. Pay attention to which screws you’re using from the pack provided. The shorter screws are for this step.
- Step back and admire your work!
We love how they turned out and they’re such a statement in our dining room! We’re still working on the “shelf styling,” but they’ve already been put to great use! I hope this has been helpful for you and I hope it will give you some confidence to try it in your own home! Remember, give yourself (or the people helping you) grace when you’re trying to tackle a DIY project! 😉
If there’s anything I’m missing, please comment below with questions. Thanks for reading!
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