Organize Your Entryway in a Day With a Corner Unit

3 Materials
1 Day
In NYC, every nook and cranny should be utilized! As soon as you walk into this apartment, you're smacked in the face with a long and narrow hallway to your left and the only bathroom directly in front of you. Where do you drop your keys? The mail? Your purse? We hate shoes piling up on the floor more than anything, so we knew we had to come up with something creative. We had a 14" x 12" corner full of valuable real estate, but we knew we couldn't just install boring floating shelves or shop forever for a perfectly-sized, expensive piece of furniture. Reclaimed wood, old spindles, and plumbing fittings and piping would do just the trick. We created a tall corner unit with 5 shelves--perfect for catching those small everyday items that can otherwise make your entryway look cluttered.
This is what it looked like before we got to work designing a custom corner unit.
Materials List:
-Wooden Spindles
-Plumbing pipes and fittings
-Select pine boards
-Power Drill
-Spade Bit
-Chalk Paint
-120 grit sand paper
-Spray paint
-(4) 1"x1" corner braces
-Drywall anchors and screws
-Small level
STEP 1: Measure your space
Measure the corner you'd like to utilize. Ours was 12" x 14". Because we wanted to utilize the entire area, we decided to buy new wood from the hardware store as wide reclaimed planks were hard to come by at our local reuse store. 1"x12" select pine boards were inexpensive and I knew I could give them character with the right amount of paint.
STEP 2: Distress your wood
I wanted the shelves to look worn, not new, so I took our magnetic 4 in 1 drill chuck key, attached it to a hammer, and made a bunch of marks all over the new plank of wood. When I go to stain the wood later, these divots will take the stain differently and really stand out giving the wood a more "used" feel.
STEP 3: Cut your shelves
Decide how many shelves you want and using a table saw, (or the friendly associate at your store to cut the wood on-site), cut your shelves to size. We decided on (5) 12" x 14" shelves.
STEP 4: Plan how to set up your pipes
To really secure this unit to the wall, we decided to use plumbing pipes and fittings to mount the top three shelves. You can do this a number of ways, but after playing around with a few versions, we decided on 3 units that included a flange, (2) 90 degree elbows, a tee, a nipple, a cut pipe, (2) close nipples, and a cap. I've been known to play "legos" at my hardware store figuring out how to mount different projects with plumbing pipes and fittings. Have fun with this step. I then spray painted the fittings a glossy white to fit the decor of the hallway. You can leave them as you buy them or spray paint them to fit your decor!
STEP 5: Add holes to your shelves
Using a spade bit, create two holes on either side on the back of your shelf. This allows the plumbing fittings to feed through the shelf and be capped on, securing the shelf to your plumbing unit that will eventually be screwed into the wall. Make your holes bigger or smaller if you decided on bigger or smaller fittings. The bottom two shelves will not be mounted with plumbing hardware. To save money there, we will secure these shelve with corner braces, since you won't be able to see the hardware anyway. We'll show you this step later.
STEP 6: Stain your shelves
I decided to stain my planks of wood first with Minwax 'Special Walnut'.
STEP 7: Add layers of chalk paint
I then went to town creating layers of chalk paint. I let each layer dry completely before applying another layer of color. When I was creatively satisfied, I took sand paper to my board and sanded random areas, allowing each layer of color to show through. This will give my unit an artistic and perhaps "reclaimed" and rustic feel. The wooden spindles I'm using I picked up for free from a local salvage store. They already looked worn and chippy - perfect for this project. You can then apply a couple coats of polyurethane to protect the wood.
STEP 8: Add the legs to each shelf
Next, depending on the height you'd like for each shelf, drilling a pilot hole first, use a wood screw to attach a part of a wooden spindle to each corner of the front of your shelf. Our bottom two shelves are closer to the ground, so, using a jigsaw, we cut off 5" pieces of our spindles for those legs. We're thinking these shelves can catch shoes or small umbrellas.
STEP 9: Start assembling your shelves
It's time to assemble this shelving unit starting from the ground up. The bottom two shelves are low to the ground, so you won't be able to see how they're mounted to the wall. Using (2) 1"x1" corner braces, these two bottom shelves will be a sturdy base for the rest of the unit.
STEP 10: Install your wall anchor
Align your first shelf to your liking, drill a pilot hole, and install the correct anchor for your wall material.
STEP 11: Secure your first shelf
Secure your first shelf to the wall using the corner braces.
STEP 12: Add the next shelf
Make sure your shelf is level before you proceed.
STEP 13: Mark the spot for your plumbing mount
Once our two bottom shelves were secured to the wall with their corner braces, it was time to mark the spot for our custom plumbing piping mount.
STEP 14: Add the rest of your shelves
Again, drill pilot holes, insert heavy duty anchors, and mount the unit to the wall. Repeat this step for the rest of your shelves, making sure each shelf is level before you hand tighten the screws with a screwdriver.
STEP 15: Secure the spindle legs
For our final step, we secured each spindle to the shelf below it with a finish nailer and 1 - 16 gauge nails.
It turned out better than we hoped. It's incredibly sturdy and has loads of charm!
Definitely a one-of-a-kind piece that you can customize to fit your space!

Suggested materials:

  • Wooden Spindles   (Local reuse store)
  • Plumbing fittings and pipes   (Home Depot)
  • Select pine boards   (Home Depot)

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

  2 questions
  • Shelley Shelley on Jun 14, 2016
    Love the wall treatment - where did you get the wood?
  • Diane Diane on Mar 02, 2019

    I love your idea! My question is what did you do to that opposite wall? I really like that as well.


Join the conversation

2 of 60 comments
  • MaryAnn Roy MaryAnn Roy on Oct 27, 2017
    The wall treatment really made this look, good work!
  • Crystal Toland-SaMyn Crystal Toland-SaMyn on Oct 28, 2017
    I would add one more shelf by the bottom. Shoes, purse what ever. I also bought a Magnetic dish @ home depot. Holds our keys looks good too. I placed a strip of medel on my shelf and used strong glue ( like gorilla glue )to hold.