Here at Independence Homestead we love storage. It allows us to have the resources and tools on hand when needed. One area of storage we needed to expand was storage for kitchen items, as we wrote about in this post.
We debated several options for storage. Originally we were planning on creating a built-in shelving system of sorts, using a decent amount of wood, staining it, and making a big, sturdy shelving setup that covered the entire area above the bottom cabinets. The idea of designing and building such shelving was daunting. We were imagining something like the shelves in this picture, but we don’t have a wall on one side, and the wall we were working with was much longer.
We realized that we were over-engineering the situation, which we have a tendency to do. There was no need to spend the time and money that would be required to create such a large shelving system. Wouldn’t some simple wood shelves on brackets work just fine?
On one of our regular trips to Lowes, we decided to see their wood shelving options. We found these brackets and bought melamine shelves a lot like these. We bought unpainted shelves, though, because they were cheaper, and we thought painted white shelves would look better than the white melamine boards. Altogether 3 shelves and 9 brackets cost us just under $40. When you add in the drywall mounts and screws we bought later, the total cost of the shelves would be about $45. I’m not including the primer or paint for them because we already had them on hand.
Once we had the shelves and brackets, I painted the shelves. This was easy to do while I was also priming and painting the staircase with the same primer and paint. To paint the shelves, I put them on end, and leaned them against the wall, with pieces of cardboard in between the board and the wall, and in between the board and the floor. this setup allowed me to paint several sides of the board at once.
The next part was figuring out what the spacing would be for the brackets. We wanted as many of the brackets to screw into studs as possible. But we also needed the brackets to be evenly distributed along each shelf. I used a studfinder to learn where the studs were on the wall. Then on paper I drew out the wall, the stud locations, and played around with some different configurations. We decided on having the two outermost brackets screw into studs, and have the middle bracket be halfway between those two, screwed into the drywall using drywall mounts/wall anchors like this.
Now came time to install the shelves! I made this project more of a pain than it needed to be by failing to have all the necessary supplies at the beginning of the installation. I didn’t calculate how many wood screws I would need to go into the studs, and how many drywall anchors and screws I would need. I also didn’t notice that the screws that accompanied the drywall anchors had heads that were too small for the holes in the shelf brackets: the screws just slid right through. I needed washers to go around the screw in order for it to actually hold in the bracket. Since I overlooked this stuff it took 2 trips to the hardware store during the installation to get everything right.
The major decision during the shelf installation was whether to attach the brackets to the wall or the shelf first. George advocated for attaching the brackets to the shelf first because then we could make sure that the brackets were installed level. I advocated for attaching them to the wall first because it’s easier to set the shelf on top and screw it in than it is to hold up a shelf and screw in the brackets to the wall at the same time. Since I was the one doing the work, I utilized my preferred method for the first shelf. This was the only method that allowed me to install the shelf on my own.
Once I installed one bracket into the wall, I used the laser level to mark where the other brackets should be. Then I screwed them into the wall. Finally, I set the shelf on top, and screwed it into the brackets. This method worked pretty well. The shelf wasn’t perfectly level, but it was pretty close. And this method was easy to accomplish. The hardest part was holding the laser level so that it was in line with the first bracket’s screws while marking where the screws for the next bracket should be screwed in.
For the second and third shelves, I switched to George’s method of screwing the brackets to the shelf first. This was by necessity because I’d run out of drywall screws, so I couldn’t attach the brackets to the wall, but I had the wood screws to attach the brackets to the shelf. I was doing what I could before making another trip to the hardware store.
Once we’d gone to the hardware store, George helped me to hold up the shelves against the wall. We used the level to make sure it was level, then we used a pencil to mark the screw holes. We then put the shelves down, and I drilled pilot holes for the screws that would go into the studs, and screwed in the drywall anchors. Then George helped me hold up the shelf once more, and we drilled in all the screws into the wall. Another shelf was hung! We repeated this process for the third and final shelf.
I would recommend my process of attaching the brackets to the wall first. It was the easiest method. Overall we’re very happy with the shelves. They are sturdy enough to hold our stuff, and they provide a lot of storage!