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Clutter Control: Almost-floating office shelves

October 1, 2009

In my new office I was faced with a small storage dilemma.  I just hate having clutter on my desk, especially as it is on the smaller side, but I needed a place to store my bills as well as my thesaurus.  I looked around and realized I had a number of items that were homeless, so to speak.  So I gathered them up and planned a small shelving system to add to a lonely little wall near my desk.

1. Planning the storage space:

It’s a little trick I developed during my attempt to cleverly control my kitchen clutter.  I start by placing a few blank post-it notes on the wall near where I need to create a storage solution.  Throughout the following days, when I think of something that will need to be stored there, I write it on the post-it.  That way I’ve got a working list that I never have to track down each time I’m inspired.

Office Shelves Planning1

A few days later, with my list pretty much completed,  I used a neat trick inspired by Julia @ Open Hand Living.  Wanting to plan the location of the three shelves ahead of time, I taped out their positions on the wall using blue painters’ tape.  Then, riding on a wave of blue-tape-obsession, I decided to make paper and tape models of the items I wanted to store on the shelves.  That way I’d be sure to leave enough room between each shelf. Office Shelves Planning3

2. Designing the shelves:

In a perfect and oh-so-wealthy world, I would have installed three floating shelves for a clean and modern aesthetic.  As my world is neither wealthy nor perfect, I used wood I already had to create a much cheaper alternative.  It wasn’t exactly floating shelves, but it was as minimalis as I could create with a simple saw, drill, and some wood I’d rescued from the dumpster at my condo.  (I knew it would come in handy some day!)

See, the thing I dislike about traditional shelves with brackets is that the brackets are so often fussy or clunky.  I didn’t want to use up any space with brackets.  So I created the following bracket-free design (illustrated in my sketch below) like this:

-Attach each horizontal shelf to two vertical (and skinny) strips of wood.  Use really long screws to ensure the 5-inch-deep shelf has support. (Mind you, it can’t hold a ton of books, but it will work for decorative items. If needed, I’d strengthen the shelves by installing small L-brackets underneath each shelf.)

-Attach the entire thing to the wall by using one screw at the top of each vertical wood strip.

Shelves Sketch_commentary

(Yeah, I know, that’s a work of art.  Someday it will be auctioned off as a collector’s item. . .)

I liked this idea because it was landlord-friendly.  By that I mean it only requires two screws be placed in the wall.  With anchors, of course.  (Had I installed three floating shelves, that would have required at least 6 holes.)  Also, it was cheap, cheap, cheap! And bracket-free.

3.  Actually building the shelves:

Silly me – I expected to buy supplies and build this shelving system in just one weekend day!  Yep, I’m overly enthusiastic and optimistic.  Not to mention impatient. 

2 1/2 weeks later it’s finally constructed, sanded, painted, sealed, and decorated. I painted the shelves with leftover Granny Apple Green paint from my dining room office accent wall.  Maybe I should have painted the vertical wood strips the same creamy color as the wall.  That may have helped it achieve a more faux-floating shelf effect.

Finished Shelves

4.  Decorating the shelves:

I jazzed it up for the fall season with some pumpkins in my new white ceramic dishes, as well as two little white pumpkin photo/memo holders from good ole’  Tar-jay.  Oh, and it holds useful office items, too:  my thesaurus, my incoming mail & bills.

5. Bragging about the cheap cost:

Let’s check out the cost breakdown of this bad boy:

  • Wood shelves – free, from the dumpster (that tree did NOT die in vain!)
  • Paint – free, leftover from wall painting project
  • Screws – $4.00
  • Paint sealer (there’s a special one just for painted, not stained, wood) – $4.00
  • Vertical strips of wood – $2.00

Grand total?  $10.00.  Not bad, not bad.

Take a look!  (I know, I know, the wall to the left of the chair is still bare – I have a plan for that wall.  Hold your horses, people, I can’t do everything at once!)

Finished Shelves Desk

Just a little reminder of how the other side of the room looks:

09.Sept29 034

Did you notice this pretty cream-and-green box with the photo of me and Mr. Wonderful on it?  Stay tuned, because in a few days I’ll tell you how I made a not cheap, but free, decorative mail storage box!  I’ll also tell who created that awesome painting of my first cat, Blossom.

Close Up Shelf

Don’t forget to stop by Transformation Thursday at the Shabby Chic Cottage. I’m sharing my Ikea drawers-turned-custom bathroom storage. What are you sharing?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 2, 2009 2:47 PM

    Wow, a steal of a deal! I love that you took on this project from scratch. Also, I’m loving that green!!

  2. October 6, 2009 2:40 PM

    Great looking shelves!

  3. October 7, 2009 12:32 PM

    Very clever Idea!!

  4. October 12, 2009 9:06 AM

    Great use of space! I really enjoyed looking around your blog! What great ideas!!
    *Eliza’s blog*


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