One Day and a Couple of Studs (rated G, I Promise)

23 Materials
5 Hours

In small rooms, floor space is at a premium. So when you've got to have storage, don't add furniture. Instead, build recessed shelving between the studs. You'll get the extra space you need without sacrificing square footage. This episode of 'On The Fly...DIY' is sponsored in part by Rust-Oleum.

First, use the stud finder to locate the studs and mark them on the wall with your pencil.  You'll want to pick a place on the wall where you don't believe there will be any electrical, plumbing, or ductwork.  Check both sides of the wall for outlets or vents.  Mark the studs as well as the upper and lower parameters of your storage space.
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Time to demo!  Make sure everyone involved is wearing safety glasses and I recommend a good, closed-toe shoe.  Use the mallet or small sledgehammer to break through the drywall and create an opening for your storage space.  Keep your bashing within your marked parameter and use the serrated knife to cut right up to the edges. 
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Measure the width between the studs for the 2x4s.  Then, measure the height and depth of all four sides inside the space for the plywood.  Use the depth measurement for the quarter round pieces, which will be used as shelf brackets.  
one day and two studs rated g i promise
If you wait until this step to purchase the wood, you can usually get your local home improvement store cut the pieces to size for you.   Otherwise, cut the wood with your miter saw.  Make sure you cut two quarter round pieces for each shelf you'll be installing.  Since I'm putting in four shelves, I'm cutting a total of eight quarter rounds.
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Squeeze the 2x4 in between the studs at the very top and very bottom of your space.  Use the mallet to lightly tap on either end until the 2x4 is in and level.  Shoot a couple nails through the wall into the 2x4 to help anchor it in place.  
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Cut your contact paper, wall paper, or shelf paper to size so it covers the entire back of the storage space.  Apply and smooth out until no bubbles remain.
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Spray paint one side of the plywood, the rosettes, quarter rounds, and trim.  Rust-Oleum's 2X Paint and Primer in gloss white covers the dark shade of this reclaimed trim with only two coats.  
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Use a nail gun to secure each piece of plywood up against the studs and the 2x4s. 
Place a rosette into each outer corner of your storage space and nail in place.    
Measure the space between each rosette and use your miter saw to cut the trim to size.  Secure each piece of trim with a few nails.
one day and two studs rated g i promise
If you had to remove drywall from an existing stud, use shims to add some bulk before nailing your trim on top.
Older homes are full of surprises, like this unexpected stud running down the middle of the wall.  I'll cover this up with another piece of trim.
On to the shelving!   Once you've figured out where you want your shelves to sit, nail in each quarter round piece on one side as a shelf bracket.  Make sure the paired piece on the other side is at exactly the same height so your shelf sits level.  
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Remove the shelves and add a little wood filler to each and every nail hole - in the plywood, rosettes, trim, and quarter rounds.  Use a damp paper towel to wipe away the excess and allow to dry.  

I refuse to spray paint inside so here's my trick for covering little nail hole spots.  Using a piece of cardboard or a paper plate as a palette, spray a little paint into the middle - enough so it starts to pool.  Then use your finger or a small brush to dab the paint onto the nail holes and blend gently.  This ensures the exact same paint is used without the overspray and fumes lingering inside the house.

Caulk the lines in the plywood corners, between the rosettes and trim, around the quarter rounds, and between the trim and wall for a seamless finish.
one day and two studs rated g i promise
Place the shelves onto each secured set of quarter rounds and your recessed wall storage is ready to be filled!
one day and two studs rated g i promise
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 6 questions
  • Nanci
    on Aug 11, 2018

    I didn’t see you add the plywood to the back. How thick is it? Is it possible to just attach the contact paper to the drywall or will I need to cover the drywall with plywood first?

    • Mary Winkert
      on Sep 2, 2018

      She didn’t put the plywood on the back only on the sides. She just put the contact paper on the Sheetrock at the back and brought it up the studs a little ways which was then covered by the pieces of plywood.

  • Sarge
    on Aug 27, 2018

    I'm thinking of doing similar in my library, but I want to know "Where did you get those heels?"

  • Shelia Rainey-Knox
    on Sep 3, 2018

    Did you do this on an interior wall or an exterior wall?

    • Jill Helm
      on Sep 13, 2018

      Its an interior wall, see dog sitting in doorway to hall... Unit was installed next to the door

Join the conversation

2 of 57 comments
  • Pat R
    on Oct 5, 2018

    Awesome job, love it. Age, (and height) hinders me from trying large tasks, but I never know when an urge may hit and I dive right in head first! Really that looks great.

  • Sandy
    on Oct 24, 2018

    Very nice...

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