DIY Shelving that Improves Your Home

Instead of shopping for a shelf that fits your space, why not build a shelf that fits perfectly and has all the space you need? Even if you’re new to DIY, you can create and customize your own shelving to get exactly what you want while keeping costs low.



To make sure your shelf fits the space, measure your walls and note any electrical fixtures, radiators or objects that could get in the way of your shelves. If you’re not sure what type of shelf you want to build, design books and blogs can provide inspiration as well as helpful warnings on what could go wrong. Better to spend time planning now than get stuck halfway through a project.

Once you know what you want, print out plans or create your own blueprint that includes dimensions. This helps keep you on track. Finally, figure out where you’ll work. Do you have a garage or basement you can convert into a workroom? Can you work in the room itself or will you need to clean up at the end of the day so others can use the space?


Aside from the wood needed to build the shelf, have the following items on hand:

  • Basic supplies – A tape measure and level are a must for planning and mounting your shelf.
  • Safety goggles – These protect your eyes while you work.
  • Basic tools and hardware – to put the shelf together, get a hammer, cordless drill, nails, screws and brackets to mount it on the wall. Think about what you’ll put on the shelf before you purchase brackets so they’re sturdy enough to support the weight of a full shelf.
  • Finishing tools – To smooth away rough edges, consider using a palm sander. Have sandpaper in a variety of grades to get into tight corners and edges for fine-tuning the finish.

Building and Installation

Measure everything first or ask the employees at the hardware store cut the wood for you. Put the shelf together following your plans and using the tools you have on hand. Work slowly and carefully, lining everything up just right, before you hammer or drill. This saves you the frustration of having to go back and fix mistakes.


Finish work is the fun part—transforming your homemade shelf into a smooth and colorful masterpiece. If you haven’t already sanded the material, sand it now to remove any rough edges. Paint the wood a fun color or stain it to match your existing wood shelves.

When the paint dries, it’s time to hang the shelf. Use your level and measuring tape to mark off the spot. Drill a hole to install the hardware or brackets needed to hang the shelf. Carefully mount the shelf, step back and admire your hard work.

The first time you make your own shelf, it can be intimidating. Remember that the first one is always the hardest and it will go smoother next time. In the building process, you may learn new ways of doing things and pick up tips on what you’ll change about the next shelf. Innovation is part of the DIY process.

Holly is an Indianapolis native with a knack for home decorating. She works with her father in the real estate industry flipping houses and in her spare time, she blogs on behalf of Sears.