I am going to wait to do a full reveal on my kitchen "reset." I call it a "reset" because I didn't paint the exterior of the cabinets or get new flooring or counters...just moved cabinets around, removed a few doors, painted the inside of a few cabinets, added some under-counter lighting and added shelving. So while it is a major change, and looks and functions MUCH better, it isn't a full-blown makeover.
Today I am going to share a tutorial on floating shelves. Actually THREE different tutorials!
The first thing I had to do was figure out which cabinets I wanted to "pop up" and where I wanted open shelving. That was what all the planning and measuring and drawing has been all about for the last few months. After I decided on the "configuration" of the cabinetry, I moved the cabinets that needed to be moved (see a tutorial on doing that here) and decided what "stuff" I wanted on each shelf...that is an important part of the plan because you don't want to plan on storing a 10" tall Anchor Hocking jar on a shelf that, in the end, only has 9" clearance!
The problem with adding floating shelves to any room is the need to plan for the weight of the items it will hold and whether or not there are studs to anchor the support.
In my kitchen, I had four areas I wanted to add floating shelves. I didn't want brackets, so the "support" for each shelf was a huge issue. In the end, I had to construct and anchor three different types of shelving to give me the clean look of floating shelves!
The first area was the hardest only because it was the longest span and will hold all my dishes. When I weighed my dishes they came to SIXTY FOUR POUNDS!!!! Just for plates, bowls and salad plates....that didn't account for cups, glasses or condiment bowls! Course then it dawned on me that I really didn't NEED to display ALL my dishes so I pulled out 8 place settings and stored the rest above the pantry! Not a great place to store something you use every day, but perfect for things you only need a few times a year! I actually have MORE of these dishes in my hall pantry...they are Pier One Bianca ironstone and they don't make it any more...so I stock up every time I find them on Ebay or Etsy!
The two shelves were still going to hold a lot of weight and I knew I needed something sturdier than a pre-build floating shelf you buy at Lowe's.
I found a tutorial online for floating shelves using metal brackets attached to the studs by cutting out the sheetrock. God help me, I did not save the link! Since I knew what I needed to do, I didn't need to refer back to the tutorial! Hopefully my tutorial will give you the information you need!
My plan was to attach L brackets directly to the studs and then conceal them with sheetrock and the construction of the shelf!
The first thing I did was locate the two studs with a stud-finder. I marked the location, used my L brackets to "trace" out the area I needed to cut out and then cut out the sheetrock.
You can use a Dremel with a cutting blade but I didn't want to blow dust all over the place. I just cut it out with a utility knife and chisel.
After cutting out the opening, I set the L brackets directly on the studs, made sure it was level between the brackets by laying a 24" level across the two, predrilled the holes for the screws and then attached them to the studs using heavy duty wood screws...3/8" bolts will work as well!!!
You may notice that the brackets are set 1/4" above the top of the tile...that is because the underside of the shelf will be 1/4" plywood and I want to be able to slip it on top of the tile. Someday I MIGHT change my backsplash and I want to be able to remove the tile without messing with the shelving!
After the brackets were attached, I used sheetrock mud to fill in the holes...right over the bracket attached to the studs. You could "patch" the area like I showed you here, or you can just fill them with mud. As the mud dries, it will crack, and you may have to sand and refill it 2-3 times...no biggy....I had a lot of stuff going on over several days so I wasn't in a hurry!
After the mud dried, I sanded it well, sprayed it with texture (again, this tutorial shows you how to do that) and then painted it (AGAIN, this is where having leftover touchup paint is SO important...unless you are repainting the entire wall!)
Here is the downside to doing tutorials...I don't always take the pictures I should take! Sooooooo......try to follow me here. The shelf was pretty much constructed the same way the shelves adjacent to the refrigerator were...so you can see pictures of the construction later in this post!
I cut, primed, sanded and put one coat of paint on all the shelving components before I put them together...that way, once it was all constructed all I had to do was caulk, putty the holes and give it one final coat of paint! (I used oil based paint on the shelves...maybe overkill but I know it will hold up!)
I used 3/8" plywood for the top of the shelf...I cut it (and the 1/4" ply for the underside) the size I wanted the shelf, LESS the 1/2" for the strips of wood used to face the front and both sides (Example, if you want your shelf to be 8" deep and 30" wide, you would cut your plywood 7 1/2" x 29"). I glued and nailed 1/2" plywood strips to the underside of the 3/8" top to create a "channel" for the electrical cord for the under counter lighting and for the bracket. I laid the 3/8" plywood across the two brackets and attached the top to the L bracket with #10-3/8" screws and then glued and nailed 1/4" plywood to the underside. So all in all, the thickness of each shelf was 1 1/8" thick (3/8" top + 1/2" inside strips + 1/4" underside = 1 1/8" thick.)
I wanted to reinstall my under counter lighting to the bottom shelf so I measured for it's placement and drilled holes for the electrical wiring in the underside (1/4" plywood) of the bottom shelf and ran the wiring between the "channels" and through the holes before I attached the bottom to the top of the shelf. KNOW WHERE YOUR ELECTRICAL WIRING IS so you don't put a nail through it when you are nailing the underside to the top!
I capped the edges off with 1/2" boards...1/2 x 2" (actually 1/2" x 1 1/2") for the top shelf with no light and 1/2 x 3" (actually 1/2" x 2 1/2") for the bottom shelf so the light fixture would not show when it was installed. Caulked, puttied and gave them one final coat of paint!
A huge advantage to constructing your own support or frame is you can make the shelves any depth you want...I actually made the bottom shelf a little deeper than the top shelf.
The spice corner was a tad easier. Since the items on those shelves were pretty light weight I used premade floating shelves. The only adjustment was the width of the shelves. The smallest premade floating shelf I could find was 18" but my space was only 15". The upside is the metal bracket the shelf slips on to was only 15" wide, so I was able to cut the actual shelf down...1 1/2" off each side, and still use the metal bracket! I painted those to match the dish shelf and installed them per the directions. (Yes, you can easily paint pre-made floating shelves...you aren't limited to white or black!)
The two 15" shelves on either side of the refrigerator were another "challenge" and constructed completely different because one side had NO studs in the 15" span and the other side only had ONE stud. Curses.
Not a biggy. Sometimes you just have to get creative!!!
I built a "skeleton" for each shelf using 1x2 material (actually 3/4" x 1 1/2") I didn't want to make the skeleton too terribly heavy but since only one side of each shelf could be attached to the adjacent cabinet, I decided to beef up the "free floating" side with a 2x2" (actually 1 1/2" x 1 1/2") I used oak on the side that attaches to the wall since it is a "harder" wood! The rest is poplar since it is a little bit lighter! Make sure when you "design" your skeleton that you account for the 1/2" "facing" that will go on the front and sides. For example, my space was 15" wide x 14" deep...since I was "facing" the shelves with 1/2" material on the front and one side, I made my skeleton 14 1/2" x 13 1/2". Sometimes it helps to actually draw it out with the measurements!
I glued each joint, tacked them with a trim nailer and then counter sunk screws...just to make it all nice and sturdy!
If you don't have a special "counter sink" screw bit, you can always cheat like I do...first, predrill the hole using a small bit (1/16th ish bit!)...
...then use a bit that is a tad larger than your screw head and drill on top of the small bit hole, maybe 1/8" deep...then just put your screw in!
It is important to predrill holes because the wood WILL split if you do not!
After constructing the "skeleton" for the shelf, I placed it on the wall, leveled it, then predrilled 4 holes through the skeleton into the sheetrock.
Notice I tacked a piece of 1/4" plywood to the bottom of the skeleton so I could maintain enough space to slip the 1/4" plywood underside on after the skeleton and top were installed!
After pre-drilling the holes through the skeleton and into the wall, I removed the shelf and inserted "self-screwing" sheetrock anchors into the wall... the package says they hold 80 pounds each...I'm hoping four will do the job since there is no stud in this area!!!
I used the screws that came with the self-drilling drywall anchors to secure the skeleton to the wall. I added washers on the left shelf since it didn't have a stud in the wall to attach to.... just for good measure!
The right side had one stud to anchor to, so I used two self-drilling drywall anchors (no washers this time) and two sheetrock screws into the stud. For good measure I used my nail gun to nail from the inside of the skeleton into the adjoining cabinet (making sure it was level from back to front!)...again, probably overkill!
After the skeletons for the shelves were securely anchored, I used 1/2" plywood for the top and 1/4" for the underside. Glue and a few trim nails. The thickness of the shelf is 1/2" top + 1 1/2" skeleton + 1/4" underside = 2 1/4"... so I used 1/2" x 3" boards (again, actually 2 1/2") for the front and sides (all pre-primed and 1 coat of paint). Caulk, putty, paint!
Three different construction methods...this is one of those times when one shoe WILL NOT fit all and you really have to get creative!
This may all seem like a daunting task...and I may make it seem easy. But even for me, it is not. You really have to think, and draw, and measure and plan. And be willing to throw your hands up and start over when something doesn't work the way you thought it would! THAT is what DIY is all about.
You may have noticed that since I popped up the cabinets, you can actually see the underside now...that will not do! And that is one of the pieces of "trim" I am waiting on to finish things up...1/8" maple ply that will cover the underside of the cabinets. I had David at Sherwin Williams do a stain match and he did an AWESOME job...so as soon as the trim and skins come in and I get them stained and installed, I will do a full reveal!
In the end...I have exactly what I want...open shelving in my kitchen and when I reveal the entire kitchen you will see how this all ties together. At least for now you know that you are not limited to the measly little 10 pound limit of a pre-built floating shelf! You CAN build a floating shelf that will hold more weight, anywhere you want!