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Corner Shelves

February 18, 2012

So we’ve been focusing work on the basement, but found time to cut, stain, and paint some shelves for this lonely little corner in the living room.

I wanted this project to be relatively inexpensive and quickly-executed since we have other things going on. In the end, it took us a few hours over the course of 2 days (to give things time to dry/cure) and cost around $100-ish–not “cheap” but neither are store-bought shelves as chunky as these…

2″x10″x8′ Pine Boards – Untreated
6″ Steel Corner/L-Brackets
1″ Screws
2.5″ Screws
Minwax Gel Stain – Mahogany
Top Coat Spray – Matte
Cold Galvanizing Compound Spray Primer
Oil Rubbed Bronze Metallic Spray Paint – Satin

1) Plan out the bracket/shelf placement with a stud finder (or your intuition) and 1.5″ masking tape (2″ thick boards are actually more like 1.5″ thick in reality)

–I decided to stagger the upper shelves because…well, I don’t know really. After trying out a few different configurations with masking tape, I thought this was more visually interesting (and imagined the ends would also help to act as book ends since that corner wouldn’t be very useful if used solely for books. But here I am using it for crap other than just books so it may not have mattered in the long run.) We kept the two bottom shelves on an even plane just to “contain” the whole thing–not scientific, it just looked good. We also began the shelves up high enough so that they wouldn’t be blocked by any furniture in the room…or cat-butt.

2) Decide how to hang the brackets–“pointed upward or downward.” (Is there a technical term for this?) So you can mark out exactly where they’ll need to go.
–The hardest thing to decide was which way to hang the brackets. I liked the ultra-industrial look of completely underneath, downward pointing brackets…

but decided to turn them the other way like a “hook” because I really liked the idea of the brackets being more hidden when things were on the shelves–I thought they might more resemble the look of floating shelves…

3) Prime the brackets with Cold Galvanized Compound Primer then paint with ORB metallic spray paint in satin, or leave them alone if the shiny steel look is preferred.

4) Stain and top-coat the cut-to-size shelves or leave unfinished
–I chose Gel Stain because I find it more tolerable to apply and it also appears much richer after the first coat than traditional stain–so I was able to achieve the color I wanted after just one coat (time s-a-v-e-r.) The Mahogany color is red enough to warm up the room a bit and coordinate with our bar stools and entry table, but not too red–sort of an orangey-red.

–What I used for a topcoat was a matte, clear-finish acrylic spray made more for art projects than finishing wood. I didn’t want the shelves to have a sheen, though, so this worked for me. I think this will be enough protection for some books and tchotchkes…but there are no guarantees.

5) Use 2″ screws to attach the brackets to the studs, starting at the top (so there’s enough room to attach the shelves to the brackets from underneath.)

6) Use 1″ screws to attach the shelves to the brackets from underneath

7) Put some stuff on the shelves!

8) …Go back to the basement

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Monir permalink
    February 10, 2014 4:53 pm

    Love the idea and attempting to copy it. Where did you get the brackets?

  2. Mike permalink
    January 7, 2014 12:33 pm

    What were the lengths on the shelves? They look great!

  3. December 29, 2013 2:43 pm

    Please tell me where you bought the brackets, I’ve been to home depot and Lowes and both have nothing like that. Thanks.

  4. December 16, 2013 6:46 pm

    Thank you for the inspiration! Your instruction is so helpful. I bought the “L” brackets today, have the wood,just need to get the cold compound.

  5. Bob permalink
    November 14, 2013 2:48 pm

    Wondering where you found the brakets

  6. Len permalink
    September 3, 2013 9:50 am

    Great look! I am going to try for my son’s room to hold trophies etc…Might have to adapt.
    Thanks for the great idea!

  7. Joi permalink
    August 18, 2013 8:53 am

    Where did you guys buy L brackets for cheap?

  8. June 14, 2013 3:49 pm

    Love! I’m attempting this configuration in my home office now with store bought floating shelves. I don’t think the corners of my office are “perfectly” straight because the shelves don’t line up with the corners? Strange. The studs also don’t match up with the holes on the mounting brackets. *sigh* We’ll see how bad I do! =)

    Tela’s Trading Journal

    • June 16, 2013 2:52 pm

      This corner wasn’t straight either–but it usually seems to work out regardless and not be too noticeable. Good Luck!

      • Anonymous permalink
        June 25, 2013 12:38 pm

        A little confused about the L brackets. why can you not see the other half of the bracket? (I only see the underside that the shelf sits on)I love the look but can’t figure out how you disguised the other portion of the bracket.

      • June 26, 2013 9:35 pm

        The remaining portion of the bracket tops (which, of course, are approximately 1″ shorter than what you see on the underside of the shelves due to the thickness of the wood) are hidden behind the books and tchotchkes on the shelf. It’s not fancy, but it works if you strategically place objects.

      • Anonymous permalink
        June 27, 2013 9:33 am

        did you use two brackets on each shelf?

      • February 11, 2014 9:08 am

        At least two, but 3 for longer ones.

    • June 17, 2013 10:47 am

      The studs not lining up are the main reason I like this approach to simple shelving. With the individual brackets you can position them exactly on the studs.

  9. Jenna permalink
    January 14, 2013 12:39 pm

    Love your shelves! I bought the wood this weekend so I can get started on making my own for our landing. Thank you for the tutorial!


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