How to Install Open Shelves in a Nook

3 Materials
$25
2 Hours
Easy

Have a nook in your home that would look great with some open shelves? Maybe a spot next to your fireplace, or even inside a closet.

With these easy DIY steps, you can install your own basic open shelves.

I used these steps to install shelves in my laundry room, replacing some really ugly metal shelf brackets. Be sure to check out my original post for more details, and a full materials list: How to Build Basic Wooden Shelves
Install open shelves in any nook in your home. Here's how:
1. Measure your space
Know the length of board you'll need for your shelves. When you go to the hardware store, you can get them to make the cuts for you.

I used two 1" x 10" boards for each shelf.
2. Mark the height of the shelves
Decide where you want the shelf to be and then make a reference mark on the wall.

Be sure to check the clearance for anything that will go on or under your shelves.
3. Install the supports
Install pieces of furring strip aligned with your reference mark. The shelf boards will rest on these supports.

Use a level to make sure everything is straight, and try to screw the boards into the studs.
You will need to install supports on all three walls of your nook.
4. Tie the shelf boards together
If you're using two boards, like I did, to create a deep shelf, you'll want to tie them together.

Use another piece of furring strip on the bottom, and screw it into both shelf boards.
Attach the furring strip across the joint where your two shelf boards meet.
5. Install the shelves, and add trim
Depending on how tight your fit, you may have to tip the shelf boards at an angle to get them into place. They just set on top of the supports you installed.
For a finishing touch, you can tack a strip of decorative molding to the front of the shelf. You can cut this to size at the hardware store, too.
Without those brackets in the way, there is so much more room for storage. Not to mention it looks much better.

Let me know how your shelves turn out!
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Single Girl's DIY

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

12 questions
  • Katrina Masters
    on Jun 8, 2018

    Like this idea, but I only have 2 walls. Suggestions?

    • Faye
      on Jun 9, 2018

      You will need to put your furring strips on the two walls ad slide your shelf on top of t. If I understand your dilemma correctly

    • Wendy Roithner
      on Mar 18, 2019

      For support, for the open side at the front corner, you could use a 2x4 or decorative dowel rods. One section from floor to the bottom of the lower shelf and another one between the shelves.

    • Michelle Isaac
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Can you post a pic of the two walls?

    • Heather
      on Mar 18, 2019

      You will need to add support where the non-existent wall is. Add the support strips on the two walls, where there is no wall create (or purchase) a bracket that you’ll add at the end of the strip. There are strips of wood that go from left to right on the two walls, where your shelf will sit on. Place a strip going up and down next to where there is not a wall then create a place for the shelf to lay on by making a strip that comes out of the wall, then adding the strip of wood to connect the wood on the wall and the wood for the shelf to lay on. Almost a triangle shape. Now your board should have support in all three sides. Make sure to use anchors for the support you’ve created.

      Good luck.

  • Debbie Jones
    on Mar 18, 2019

    I don’t have walls on either sides of the washer & dryer. Will that matter as far as supporting the shelves?

    • Heather
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Either create the support by installing brackets in each side of the shelf or put up a floating shelf.

    • Tammie Curtis
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Absolutely

    • Carol Cole
      on Mar 18, 2019

      then you put up brackets.

    • Naomi Lowman
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Yes, you will need brackets if you are putting heavy storage. If not, you can use floating shelves.

    • Jewellmartin
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Debbie Jones, even without walls on the ends to hold braces, the wall behind the w/dryer will have studs in it. With studs you can attach brackets. If the wall is sturdy enough, it can hold long plexiglass floating shelves. Keep an open mind!

  • Ellen Riddle
    on Mar 18, 2019

    How can I clean dusty and stained lamp shades

    • Judy
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Hi Ellen, it really depends on what they are made of. If they are a plastic you can use just about anything to clean them. I use a speck of dawn dish washing liquid and take my scrubbie or is toothbrush and clean them with some warm water then spray them off at my sink. If they are cloth, a very damp warm washcloth. Here’s a hint for your cloth shades I spray mine when I first get them with scotch guard and then I brush them lightly I try every month. Best of luck getting your shades tip top. Judy

    • Linda Harper Pope
      on Mar 18, 2019

      I clean dust (and dog hair) from cloth lamp shades with a lint roller.

    • Clddickson
      on Mar 18, 2019

      My aunt was an antique dealer and taught me years ago to use a super soft brush to gently clean delicate detailed China and such.

    • Tina Maxfield
      on Mar 18, 2019

      I use a lint roller for clothes, does a great job on lamp shades.

    • Lyn5089
      on Mar 18, 2019

      I put them in a plastic garbage bag with a half cup of salt and shake the bag. It gets a lot of the dirt off.

    • Suzzann
      on Mar 19, 2019

      Use the vacuum cleaner with the brush attachment! Sucks it right off!

    • Ellis
      on Mar 19, 2019

      If you want a really soft brush to brush them off, use a men's shaving brush or a women's make-up brush.

  • Auntie Lola
    on Mar 18, 2019

    Is the shelf sticking out far enough to have the spigot of the big liquid detergent jug hanging over the washer tub when it's open? Then you can just count how many steamboats (seconds) it takes to fill your cup to the line you want, and then when you know that you just have to turn the spigot and count your soap pouring directly into the washer!!

    • Single Girl's DIY
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Yes, you could sure try that!

    • TomJ
      on Mar 18, 2019

      No you can not, The reason is the more liquid in the bottle the faster the liquid pours out, so the amount that comes out with a full bottle is more than when the bottle is getting towards empty.

    • Patricia Bates
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Sounds like great question. Set jug so spigot hangs over edge. Use clear cup so you can see how much detergent you want. May have to use step stool, like me, to even reach. But you can also tilt jug when it gets low

    • Auntie Lola
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Geez, Tomj, I don't use pods because I like to be able to control how much detergent I use for the size/dirt factor of my loads. Good point, but I like the idea of just twisting the knob and soap is done. I'll be able to adjust for how full the jug is. Thanks tho'

    • GoAskAlice
      on Mar 21, 2019

      Geez, Auntie Lola, if you like to control how much detergent you use, a measuring cup is more accurate than your "steamboats". I realize how much of a hassle using a cup and dumping it into the washer can be. Oh my! Have you blind tested your guesstimation? Perhaps you are a savant in this area, but there is no substitute for measuring. if you want accuracy. I'm sure you can just eyeball the shelves in and you'll be fine, no need for the measuring tape.

    • Auntie Lola
      on Mar 21, 2019

      alice when your measuring cup gets unstuck you go right ahead and use it. I don't take laundry soap as seriously as you apparently do. My guesstimations will all come out in the wash :)


  • Cmt975
    on Mar 18, 2019

    What is the depth of your shelves?

    • CarlyTee
      on Mar 18, 2019

      2 x 10”. It’s written in the article.

    • Linda
      on Mar 18, 2019

      Actually she says two boards per shelf so 20 inches deep

    • Suzzann
      on Mar 19, 2019

      10 Inches, she is using a 2 inch by 10 inch board! You have to cut your board the length of your space.

    • Kathryn
      on Mar 19, 2019

      The shelf is approximately 18 inches deep. She used two 1 x10’s for each shelf

    • Susan QC
      on Mar 20, 2019

      If you read the post, you will find that she used 2 boards for each shelf. Also in the post she says they were 1 X 10's. They are really about 9 inches. So that would make them about 18 inches deep. Also in the post, she shows how she put them together. There are good pictures also.

  • Susan QC
    on Mar 20, 2019

    Am I the only one who sees this? Why does the trim stop on the left side of the lower shelf? Did you do this for a reason, or am I seeing things?

    • Tami Turcotte
      on Mar 20, 2019

      I noticed it too, It as been cut to angle like that, perhaps was a left over trim piece as I see no advantage of having it like that either.

    • Single Girl's DIY
      on Mar 21, 2019

      Ah, I explained that in the full blog post, but not here. Avoid the mistake that I made, and make sure to account for the width of your trim when deciding the height of your shelf. I had to cut a notch out of the trim so I could still open the washing machine lid. DIY & learn...

    • Susan QC
      on Mar 21, 2019

      Thanks. Had I looked closer at the washing machine I would have seen that your lid opens from the side and I would have figured it out. Mine opens from the front and hits the built in cabinets I have. The cabinets were there when I moved in and when I bought my new washer, it was slightly taller. Oh well, we just deal with it, don't we?

    • Debra BENEDICT
      on Mar 25, 2019

      The shelf at an inch higher would of fixed that.Looks tacky.

    • Carlene Williams Johnson
      on Mar 25, 2019

      If u don’t have nothing nice to say... We all have little “oopsies” with projects. I appreciate the idea and know how of this DYI :) n now since she shared what happened others will keep this in mind so we don’t have to make the same oopsi :) Great post :)

    • Karen
      on Mar 25, 2019

      Debra, Only thing tacky is your comment. This is a lovely project that deserves a “good job”. I would have made the cut across the entire shelf, but she chose not to. However you offer no ideas, just criticism.


    • Jan palmer
      on Mar 25, 2019

      You should keep your tacky remarks to your self 😡

  • Mad Lees
    on Mar 25, 2019

    How many inches above washer is 1st shelf.

    • Karen
      on Mar 25, 2019

      Open your washer if it opens from the top and add a few inches.


  • Virginia
    on Mar 25, 2019

    How much weight will it hold without a metal bracket in the middle?

    • Bonnie Branch
      on Mar 25, 2019

      Not a specific answer, but a general rule of thumb is to have a center support for shelving that is 48" wide or wider. Don't skip the front moulding! This would act as a strengthening support. However, to prevent center sagging, putting heaviest items at the ends is recommended. This looks fantastic and what a great job! Who can't use more storage?!?

    • Lisa West
      on Mar 25, 2019

      It holds alot of weight. We built shelve for our pantry in a house I rented a few years ago. Because it's in the pantry we use 2x4s for support around the back of the shelf to sit on. AMD ise molding on the front. My fiance is a carpenter. Can goods, pickle jars vinager laundry soap until we got the shelf up over the washer and dryer. I really had a lot of weight. My pantry was very big. The house had little storage. So even my holiday deco were in there. Just make sure you get the fureknf into the beams.

    • Joe Jones
      on Mar 25, 2019

      If it’s screwed to the studs it will hold a lot of weight. I mean 2x4 studs hold your entire roof up your walls are made of wood not metal and it stands wonderfully. Think about how long wood has to be before you can bend it. If it does sag you can put a furring strip down the center or a cross in the center that will make it stronger but under 48” birch shelving shouldn’t sag with 100-150lbs

  • Jacki
    on Mar 25, 2019

    I did this with wire shelving

  • Debbie Cumbow
    on Mar 25, 2019

    Instead of screwing furring trips to join the 2 pieces of wood, couldn't you use wood glue between the two pieces then wood glue the furring strip in place if still wanted? I'd imagine as strong as wood glue is once it's dry, you won't need the extra strip.

    Great idea BTW!👍

    • Joe Jones
      on Mar 25, 2019

      No glue won’t hold structurally it is strong but if you glue them together then glue the furring to it and try and bend it in the middle it will tear the glue loose. It’s physics

    • Cathie
      on Mar 25, 2019

      The Flex glue will literally hold anything! I had a TV tray that had the table portion busted off. I glued it back on with Flex glue and my grandson stands on it and it won’t break!

    • Terry
      on Feb 10, 2020

      I do think you could do it that way. I have used flex and gorilla glue for a few projects similar to this successfully.

    • Carolyn Smith Tant
      on Apr 11, 2020

      Which is better to have over the washer and dryer in a long space: shelves or cabinets?

    • Joann Felters
      on Apr 11, 2020

      Or is it possible to purchase a piece of wider wood?

  • Diane
    on Mar 25, 2019

    Can and what can be used for concrete walls

    • Lin R
      on Mar 26, 2019

      Perhaps you might be able to provide ceiling support.

    • Viola Mae Cole Litt
      on Mar 26, 2019

      They have concrete screws you can buy at home depot will also need a concrete bit for pre drilling


    • Daisy Sanchez
      on Mar 26, 2019

      My brother showed me to use screws cause it will be a cleaner job then nails. Hammering nails will chip the wall. Good luck 👍

    • 2 girls with 5 dogs
      on Mar 26, 2019

      there is a tool that is called a hammer drill which is specifically for concrete! it works like a dream on brick too! it will make up for the price within the first few projects!(couldn't live without it) hope it helps!

    • Crystal Cochrane
      on Feb 9, 2020

      you can use a product called liquid nails to adhere the strips of shelving supports. Just tape them in place until the liquid nail is dry then remove the tape and set the shelves in place. No nails or screws needed

  • Lee Rakoskie
    on Feb 9, 2020

    I have something like this in my bathroom (over toilet area) where I would love to put these shelves - only problem is the one wall is where my showerhead and plumbing is. Any thoughts on how to avoid hitting the plumbing?

Join the conversation

2 of 74 comments
  • Joann Felters
    on Apr 11, 2020

    I love the idea! Need shelving in my laundry room. Thank you ☺️

  • Pollie
    on May 27, 2020

    Thank you! I'll be saving this. I need SO much more shelving in my life. I love your simple instructions.

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