So I recently discovered Trimble Sketchup, it is a program used to design architecture, landscape interior design, and woodworking plans. I am super excited about it because now I can include printable building plans for you in all of my woodworking posts. It has been so much fun designing the never-ending projects that race through my mind. One of them being these built-in shelves with hidden storage. After drawing up my amazing plans in Sketchup I was so confident that this build was going to be smooth sailing. But unfortunately I was in a hurry when I jotted down the measurements and I ended up writing down the wrong numbers for the side pieces. Oops, you know what they say measure twice cut once. Although this project was a bit of a headache I think the end result was well worth it and I absolutely love having storage space in this tiny bathroom.
- Sheet 1/2″ MDF
- 1/8″ Furniture backing
- (3) Cedar Fence Slats
- Brad Nailer
- 1″ & 2″ Brad Nails
- 9/64″ drill bit
- 5/16″ drill bit
- Wood glue
- 1 1/4″Cabinet Screws
- Staple Gun
- Wood Filler
- Note: I used MDF for this project because that is what I had on hand you can definitely use real wood.
- (4) 4″x 26 3/4″ Cabinet Sides
- (4) 4″ x 14 3/4″ Cabinet Top/Bottom
- (4) 4″ x 13 3/4″ Cabinet Shelves
- (2) 14 3/4″ x 27 3/4″ Cabinet Backing
- (2) 3″ x 33″ Face Frame Sides
- (1) 3″ x 27″ Face Frame Center
- (2) 3″ x 37″ Face Frame Top/Bottom
- (4) 1 1/2″ x 13 3/4″ Shelf fronts
Cedar Fence Slats
- (2) 1 1/2″ x 29″ Door Stiles
- (2) 1 1/2″ x 14 1/4″ Door Rails
- (1) 1 1/2″ x 26 1/8″ Center Brace
- (5) 1 1/2″x 72″ diagonal slats
First things first cut a hole in your wall, scary I know! I was really nervous too but don’t worry it will be worth it. There were a few studs in my way so my Hubby used a Sawzall to cut them out. Then he added some reinforcement using some 2x4s. This is just a small closet wall so we weren’t too worried about removing the studs. Make sure it is safe to remove any studs from your wall and if at all possible try to build your shelves to fit in between or around the studs.
Built-In Shelves Assembly
1) I started by applying a bead of wood glue to the top edge of the shelf side pieces.
2) Then I used 1″ brad nails to hold the two pieces together so they wouldn’t move around while I was drilling the pilot holes.
3) I used a 9/64″ drill bit to drill pilot holes. MDF splits very easily so make sure not to skip this step. I still had a few splits even after pre-drilling them.
4) Next, I used a 5/16″ drill bit and drilled a hole approx. 1/8″ deep just enough to countersink the cabinet screws.
5) I secured the top and bottom shelf pieces to the sides using 1 1/4″ cabinet screws. The screws should be flush with the surface of the MDF.
6) I used the same steps to attach the cabinet shelves. I drew a guide onto the outside of the cabinet to make sure that the screws were perfectly centered in the shelves.
7) After that, I attached the furniture backing to the back of the cabinets using a staple gun. I put quite a few staples around the edges including the back of the shelves. I didn’t want any gaps around the seams. Everything was going so smoothly or so I thought!
8) And this is the moment where I realized that my measurements were wrong. You think I would have noticed when the furniture backing was an inch too short but I thought that I had cut those pieces wrong instead so I cut new ones. I’m a little slow! But I will forever remember to measure twice cut once.
9) After ripping my cabinets apart and starting over, all while cursing under my breath. They were finally the correct size. I went ahead and painted all the pieces before installing them. That way I didn’t have to tape off the walls and deal with that mess.
10) Thinking that any more possible mistakes were behind me I was ready to install these shelves and be done. As you can see by the thousand nail holes in the following picture that wasn’t the case. Hence the lack of pictures, by this point I was too frustrated to take any more pictures. Anyways I found that the easiest way to install these shelves is to lay the boxes on the floor and then attach the face frame pieces. I have numbered the following picture with the best order to attach all the pieces. Just make sure that you do the center piece first. After it is all assembled then place your shelves into the wall and secure it using 2″ brad nails. All that is left to do is fill the nail holes and touch up the paint.
Barn Door Assembly
1) Now for the Barndoor, I wanted this door to have a rustic look so I used cedar fence slats because they have a rough surface. I ripped each 6″ fence slat into three strips measuring 1 1/2″ wide each. I cut out all the pieces for the door frame and assembled them together by shooting brad nails into all the joints at a sharp angle. These nails will be hidden by the diagonal pieces so don’t worry if they don’t look pretty.
2) I then used 45-degree angles to create the diagonal herringbone pattern. You can see in the picture below that I marked the center line of the middle piece to use as a guide. The easiest way I found to cut the back slats is to cut the first angle and then lay the entire strip onto the door frame and use a straight edge to mark the second cut.
3) Here is what it should look like when it is done.
14) Now all that is left to do is lightly sand the door and paint or stain it in your desired color. To hang the door I made my own barn door track and I will be providing a tutorial for that very soon.
Here is how I painted my door and decorated the shelves. It is so nice to have some hidden storage in this tiny little bathroom and since the shelves are built into the wall they don’t take up too much space or make the room feel smaller.
If you have a small space in need of some extra storage give these built-in shelves a try, they are definitely the way to go. I love that they provide function while still looking pretty. After all, we still have to live in our homes, don’t we? So why not have home decor that can serve a purpose besides just looking pretty. They are personally my favorite and most rewarding projects to build and I hope you find them useful as well. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned for the tutorial on how to make your own barn door track!
I would love to see your version of these built-in shelves.