Custom Floating Shelves

Since our kitchen reveal, we’ve had a few requests for a tutorial for our custom floating shelves. I’ve wanted to share, then realized that I’m lacking quite a few process photos and, I’ll be honest, there were two points in our shelf building process where we went “hmm… how do you want to solve that?” It’s true! But I think that is a very real part of Do It Yourself projects (at least with ours). So with that in mind, let us begin! (Michael will be writing most of the following btw.)

DIY Custom Floating Shelves with a natural finish and heavy weight bearing design.Materials for Two Corner Custom Floating Shelves

4 – 1″ x 12″ x 8′ Select Pine Boards

4 – 1″ x 2″ x 8′ Select Pine Boards

8 –  1.25″ Stanley-Hardware Corner Brace

Wood filler

Stain or sealer

Joint Compound

Wall Texture


Drywall saw

Miter Saw

Nail Gun


Step 1: Using a stud finder, locate your studs and mark their centers. Cut vertically along the edge of the studs until you can pull the strip of drywall away from the stud. Save your cuts of drywall.

Step 2: Decide on the height of your shelves and mount the brackets to the studs. We chose to make the lower shelf the same height as our cupboards then we decided our preferred height for the upper shelf. After securing the first bracket, use a level to determine the height of your remaining brackets. The help of two people makes this easier.

Step 3: Time to patch the drywall. I am sure there are better ways to patch this that doing what we did, but we couldn’t think of any. Replace your saved pieces of drywall in any open spaces where you can see the studs. Unfortunately, the drywall won’t fit on top of the brackets, so you’ll need to use joint compound. A lot of joint compound. As it dried it cracked and shrunk, as expected, so we ended up doing 3 or 4 layers until it was flush with the rest of the drywall.  Start with a very thick layer of joint compound and let dry for 24+ hours. (That’s a lot of time, we know!) Let each subsequent layer dry for 12-24 hours until there are no cracks showing. Then spray it with texture and paint to your wall color. It looks seamless now, but there is a possibility cracks could show up in the future after seasonal expansion and contraction. Worst case scenario is we just have to do a little more cover up someday. (And that friends is DIY at it’s finest!)

Step 4: Now that your brackets are finished, it’s time to make the shelves. We decided not to cut the wood at an angle and instead joined our pieces in an L shape. Use your miter saw to cut the boards to length and use your finish nail gun to secure the pieces with small cuts of leftover wood thick enough that your nail does not show through. Make sure to leave a hollow opening in one side of the shelf so that you will be able to slide it over the wall brackets when you’re done. In order to minimize cutting and make sure everything stayed flat I used 3/4″ thick wood for the top and bottom pieces of the box. Then I placed two 1/2″ thick spacer pieces in between them. This brought the overall height of the shelf to 2.5″. We already bought 2.5″ wide strips to use on the edges so now we only need to trim the length with the miter saw and nail them around the edges.

DIY Custom Floating Shelves with a natural finish and heavy weight bearing design.DIY Custom Floating Shelves with a natural finish and heavy weight bearing design.

(Note: Unfortunately we did not take a picture of the backside of the shelf (derp!) The back almost completely open save for the back corner. You can tell where we secured it in the above pictures.

Step 5: Slide the shelves onto the brackets then at each of the studs put one finish nail through the top of the shelf at a 45 degree angle so that it goes through the shelf and into the stud. This will help hold them in place. We used matching wood filler to fill the nail holes and then sealed the whole thing with mineral oil.

Gorgeous low budget modern kitchen makeover on Petite Modern Life

Gorgeous low budget modern kitchen makeover on Petite Modern Life

We’re so happy with these shelves and how strong they are up on the wall. Honestly, if it were solely in my decision making power, I’d remove all the upper cabinet and replace them with shelves. (Oh, and no, that’s not solely in my decision making power. ;) If you have questions about the shelves, please ask below and we’ll do our best to fill in the gaps :) Thanks for checking them out!

DIY Custom Floating Shelves with a natural finish and heavy weight bearing design.

*This post may contain affiliate links to products I use and love. Read more on my FAQ page.*

Petite Modern Life

Petite Modern Life

I'm Karisa. I live just outside of Seattle with my husband Michael {Mr. G}, our two cats, Rue and Archimedes, and our new Australian Shepherd pup in crime, Moose. We are do-it-yourself enthusiasts. I'm the dreamer, he's the strategist, and teamed up we get it done. In January 2014 we purchased our first house! The many adventures of remodeling, decorating, and inevitable redecorating will be documented here. I was born and raised in the PNW & I love the PNW life. Mountains, lakes, rivers, ocean, trees, rain, and sun: every sight & season has its own flavor & tune. It inspires in me activity, coziness, and sprees of creativity. I'm rather obsessed with white paint, natural light, homemade pizza, and a glass of red wine.

Leave a Replay

View Our Privacy Policy