Furniture Building, My Old Apartment, Rental Remedies, Small-Space Solution, Storage & Organization

Clutter Control: Almost-floating office shelves

In my new office I was faced with a small storage dilemma.  I just hate having clutter on my desk, especially as it is on the smaller side, but I needed a place to store my bills as well as my thesaurus.  I looked around and realized I had a number of items that were homeless, so to speak.  So I gathered them up and planned a small shelving system to add to a lonely little wall near my desk.

DIY Shelves

1. Planning the storage space:

It’s a little trick I developed during my attempt to cleverly control my kitchen clutter.  I start by placing a few blank post-it notes on the wall near where I need to create a storage solution.  Throughout the following days, when I think of something that will need to be stored there, I write it on the post-it.  That way I’ve got a working list that I never have to track down each time I’m inspired.

Planning Spaces

A few days later, with my list pretty much completed,  I used a neat trick inspired by Julia @ Open Hand Living (FYI: Julia is no longer blogging, now she’s my Virtual assistant!).  Wanting to plan the location of the three shelves ahead of time, I taped out their positions on the wall using blue painters’ tape.  Then, riding on a wave of blue-tape-obsession, I decided to make paper and tape models of the items I wanted to store on the shelves.  That way I’d be sure to leave enough room between each shelf.

Space Planning

2. Designing the shelves:

In a perfect and oh-so-wealthy world, I would have installed three floating shelves for a clean and modern aesthetic.  As my world is neither wealthy nor perfect, I used wood I already had to create a much cheaper alternative.  It wasn’t exactly floating shelves, but it was as minimalis as I could create with a simple saw, drill, and some wood I’d rescued from the dumpster at my condo.  (I knew it would come in handy some day!)

See, the thing I dislike about traditional shelves with brackets is that the brackets are so often fussy or clunky.  I didn’t want to use up any space with brackets.  So I created the following bracket-free design (illustrated in my sketch below) like this:

-Attach each horizontal shelf to two vertical (and skinny) strips of wood.  Use really long screws to ensure the 5-inch-deep shelf has support. (Mind you, it can’t hold a ton of books, but it will work for decorative items. If needed, I’d strengthen the shelves by installing small L-brackets underneath each shelf.)

-Attach the entire thing to the wall by using one screw at the top of each vertical wood strip.


(Yeah, I know, that’s a work of art.  Someday it will be auctioned off as a collector’s item. . .)

I liked this idea because it was landlord-friendly.  By that I mean it only requires two screws be placed in the wall.  With anchors, of course.  (Had I installed three floating shelves, that would have required at least 6 holes.)  Also, it was cheap, cheap, cheap! And bracket-free.

3.  Actually building the shelves:

Silly me – I expected to buy supplies and build this shelving system in just one weekend day!  Yep, I’m overly enthusiastic and optimistic.  Not to mention impatient.

2 1/2 weeks later it’s finally constructed, sanded, painted, sealed, and decorated. I painted the shelves with leftover Granny Apple Green paint from my dining room office accent wall.  Maybe I should have painted the vertical wood strips the same creamy color as the wall.  That may have helped it achieve a more faux-floating shelf effect.

DIY shelving

4.  Decorating the shelves:

I jazzed it up for the fall season with some pumpkins in my new white ceramic dishes, as well as two little white pumpkin photo/memo holders from good ole’  Tar-jay.  Oh, and it holds useful office items, too:  my thesaurus, my incoming mail & bills.

5. Bragging about the cheap cost:

Let’s check out the cost breakdown of this bad boy:

  • Wood shelves – free, from the dumpster (that tree did NOT die in vain!)
  • Paint – free, leftover from wall painting project
  • Screws – $4.00
  • Paint sealer (there’s a special one just for painted, not stained, wood) – $4.00
  • Vertical strips of wood – $2.00

Grand total?  $10.00.  Not bad, not bad.

Just a little reminder of how the other side of the room looks:

Rental Painting

Did you notice this pretty cream-and-green box with the photo of me and Mr. Wonderful on it?  Stay tuned, because in a few days I’ll tell you how I made a not cheap, but free, decorative mail storage box!  I’ll also tell who created that awesome painting of my first cat, Blossom.

DIY Shelving

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  • Reply Kasey at Thrifty Little Blog at 2:47 pm

    Wow, a steal of a deal! I love that you took on this project from scratch. Also, I’m loving that green!!

  • Reply Diane@A Picture is Worth at 2:40 pm

    Great looking shelves!

  • Reply Ashlee at 12:32 pm

    Very clever Idea!!

  • Reply Motherhood at 9:06 am

    Great use of space! I really enjoyed looking around your blog! What great ideas!!
    *Eliza’s blog*

  • Reply Thrifty Fix: Homemade Storage Boxes « The Borrowed Abode at 2:21 pm

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