How to Install Floating Shelves

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Estimated Time: 
About an hour per shelf
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Storage space is something almost everyone yearns for. Too often we are forced to squeeze all of our belongings into a tiny place that doesn't suffice. The result is a haphazard collection of our stuff that either takes up the bulk of the room or looks awful. In some cases, it's a combination of the two.

This was the case with Karen, our Jane-in-training. She worked from home and her "office" left a lot to be desired. Papers and folders were strewn all over the floor, while the things she did have organized were basically inaccessible. The condition of the room made it nearly impossible to get anything done as nothing could ever be found. Turning this room around involved some planning and storage, storage, storage.

Karen's office had low, angled ceilings and incorporating a big bookcase would have made the room look and feel much smaller. So, something that could feel light and airy, yet provide some much-needed surface area would work best. The answer came to us in the form of floating shelves.

Flexible, inexpensive and easy-to-install, floating shelves not only provide a room with a place to put your things, but when mounted correctly they can look fun, sleek and even a bit sophisticated.

In case you are wondering what floating shelves are, they are simply shelves with a hidden bracket, making it look as if they literally come out of the wall. Floating shelves look neat and save wall space so you can maximize every inch. It's an easy project and you will love the result.

Project Steps

Before getting started, take measurements of the wall and the shelves. Draw a diagram to map out exactly where you want your shelves to go. This will take the guesswork out of the project and save you time in the long run.

Step 1

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Using your map as a guide, decide where you want your shelves to go. Take a step back and assess the markings. Are the shelves too close together? Too far apart? Now's the time to make any changes, before any holes are drilled.

Step 2

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Find the wall studs using a stud finder. You will want to drill directly into the studs so that the shelves are as sturdy as possible. If for some reason you can't drill into the stud use wall anchors instead. These are built especially for drywall and act as a great second option in lieu of an accessible stud. Keep in mind however that wall anchors are limited on how much weight they can support.

Step 3

Based on the location of the wall studs, mark where you want the shelves to go.

Step 4

Begin drilling pilot holes for the brackets. Depending on the design of your shelves, you may want to drill one hole and then hold the bracket on the wall with a level on top of it to drill the second one. This way, you can make sure the bracket is completely level before any screws are attached to the wall.

Step 5

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Attach the bracket by screwing directly into the pilot holes you have made. Make sure the shelf is level before committing to that last screw. Of course, it can be undone if it's not completely straight, but who wants to have to do it over?

Step 6

Test the bracket by giving it a few good tugs. If it is wobbling or the drywall around it is crumbling, then it is probably not firmly attached and will have to be reinforced.

Step 7

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Slide the shelf onto the bracket, or attach any additional hardware. You're done!

Karen's home office looked more like a disaster area than a place of work. Her important belongings were scattered amongst numerous cardboard boxes and piles of paper on the floor making it impossible to find almost anything. Moreover, it didn't make for a very productive day at work.

The floating shelves allowed Karen to display pictures of her family as well as store things she needed immediate access to. The design and positioning of the shelves was fun as well as functional and because of the hidden brackets, the shelves didn't take up too much space on the wall, allowing Karen to mount as many shelves as she needed.

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