The Easiest and Most Awesome DIY Shelf

Last Spring Luke and I made the most adorable and easy-to-make DIY shelves. So I am sharing the results here. I love LOVE the way this looks in our apartment. The dark wood and brown brackets lend themselves to our industrial-style living room, but if you painted the shelf and brackets white, It would look adorable in a bedroom or bright kitchen or dining room. While you can make just one, It is really the same price to make two, so why not make two!

Our DIY shelf, now our herb garden!


  • Wrought iron brackets from Hobby Lobby ($4 each with a coupon)
  • Board from Home Depot (Definitely under $10. Could be as cheap as $3)
  •  A dark wood stain (maybe $5, or try one of these DIY stains)
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Drywall screws with anchors ($3)
  • Drill (if you don’t have a drill, go buy one right now or you lose the right to call yourself a DIYer)

So how do you do it? It’s pretty simple, but here’s a step-by-step guide:

1. Decide how big you want the shelf.

We wanted one about five feet and another about three feet.

2. Buy your wrought iron brackets.

They have some lovely ones at Hobby Lobby for $5.99, but these are regularly on sale for half price. Or you can use a coupon. For a five foot shelf, I might get three. Otherwise get two per shelf.

Our Hobby Lobby brackets for the shelf over the kitchen table.

3. Buy a nice board from Home Depot.

To do this, see how wide you want the board to be. Definitely a little wider than your brackets, which probably means about eight inches.

Then pick out a very straight board that is at least as long as you want. Don’t worry about it being too long—Home Depot will cut it to whatever size you want for free. Since we wanted two shelves, we got an eight-foot board and had them cut it into a three-foot section and a five-foot section.

When deciding on the wood, it’s really up to you. We simply looked for whatever was the cheapest but still very straight and sturdy. I think it cost us six dollars.

4. Sand and stain the board.

We actually didn’t sand the board because we felt lazy. It didn’t really need it, so it looks fine. But we did stain it. We also didn’t bother putting polyurethane on it, but that’s probably a good idea. You should let the board dry for at least an hour before trying to put it up.

We went with a really dark stain we had on hand from when we put feet on the bottom of a steamer trunk to use as our coffee table. It worked out well because the color of the wood and bracket meld together for a unified look. I think I’ve seen this type of shelf before with a wrought iron bracket and a white board, though, so you can do whatever you want.

5. Screw the brackets to the wall.

Line up the shelf and brackets to where you want, making sure it’s level (f you are a real DIYer, you should also own a level). Mark the holes of the bracket so you know where to drill. It isn’t necessary to find a stud, but it might be nice. For any holes that don’t hit a stud, use drywall screw anchors. These strengthen the screw and wall so that it can hold significantly more weight. They are awesome.

We actually ran low on screws and so just put in two screws per bracket instead of four. Also, our lease says something about only putting in like four screws per wall, so we were trying to keep to that. Both shelves have been up for over nine months and they are holding up just fine with only two screws per bracket.

All this is held up by four anchored screws. Pretty great, huh? P.S. don’t you love my planters? Garage sale find. $1 each.

6. Place board on top of brackets.

Seriously, just place it there and you’re done! So easy, right?

7. Put awesome things on shelf.

The long one behind the couch became our herb garden. It adds so much life to our room! Unfortunately, I don’t have that green a thumb. That’s why all the plants look sad.

My awesome shelf.

I absolutely love the shelf over the dining table, though! It finally gave us a place to put a lamp near the table, so it gets enough light now. And it gave me a place to display my sister’s painting she gave a few Christmases ago, along with some antiques from my grandmother. And the pewter dish I just got from Luke’s aunt, which I use as a place to store keys and change when we come in the door. Isn’t it great?

Antique butter church, iron, and hotel bell.


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