We all need sturdy shelves, whether for storage or displaying decor- or both! Some beautiful shelves are a great way to decorate a space while also increasing the functionality.
Although you usually can find cheap, pre-made shelves at big stores, they’re often not great quality and the quality shelves are crazy expensive. Plus, wherever you can purchase whole shelves, you can also find the pieces to make your own!
Building your own shelves- especially with repurposed materials– is cheaper, allows you to customize them for your space, and gives you the satisfaction of looking at something beautiful in your home and saying, “I made that!”
If you’ve come to this article, you’re at least a little interested and I hope these ideas get you inspired! I’ve listed these ideas for DIY wall shelving in order of easier to harder, so you can find one that works for your space and your abilities.
This may be the easiest option, given all you need is a wooden crate and a drill. If you have an old crate around your house or can find one from a local store, all that’s left is to drill it into the wall.
Crate shelves likely won’t be able to support very heavy weights, but there’s nothing stopping you from putting up several! Since the wood is already fitted and drilled together, this option takes the least amount of time.
Floating shelves have become an internet favorite because they’re very sleek and stylish, yet so easy to do. Floating shelves require minimal materials and effort, and always turn out looking great.
Ladders are great inspiration and templates for shelves. You can either construct a ladder-like shelf, as in this picture, or you can convert an old ladder into a shelf. They’re incredibly easy to convert since they already have shelves built in! A great and simple way to create accessible storage in your bedroom.
You can also, of course, keep things simple and classic. A natural, distressed wood wall shelf with brackets is a standard shelf for a reason. This style of shelf is rather easy and because the design is so minimal, you can decorate it however you want with the items you place on it. A great example of the beauty of simplicity!
We usually think about shelving attached to the walls or as a huge bookshelf, but you can also add small touches like this tiny bench shelf just two feet off the ground. Easy to construct, as it just needs five pieces of wood, and very practical.
Belt Strap Shelf
This shelf idea is a great way to repurpose an old belt you have or found. The belt can be easily attached to whatever wood you’re using for the shelf and just like that- you’ve put an old belt to use and made a stylish new wall shelf.
Yep- fridge shelves, outside the fridge. Talk about thinking outside the box.
If you have an extra shelf from your own fridge or have found one through a second hand shop, you can easily turn it into a shelf. Just attach it to the wall and you can place light weight items like plants, picture frames, or random trinkets.
These wall shelves only require three pieces of material that need to be fitted together and then attached to the wall. Plus, this design includes built-in bookends!
It follows that the next hardest shelf is just like the U-shape shelf plus another piece. These shelves will take a little more craftsmanship but, overall, it’s a simple process.
You just need to construct the square and attach it to the wall. Once finished, you can place items inside or on top, as in the photo, or you can drill a hanger into the bottom piece to hang items.
It might seem a bit irrational to place a 3-sided shelf after a 4-sided shelf, but the triangle shape is actually a bit more complex, because the edges come together at an angle. You’ll need to measure this design closely to make sure the pieces fit in together, but once that step is done you’re good to go! A simple design like this are great for small spaces.
This example shown is made of metal, but if you’d like to make one yourself, your best option would be to make a diamond shape with wood. Similar to the process for making a triangle shaped wall shelf, this design just adds one more piece.
Making a wall shelf invisible is actually quite easy! All you need is a thin and small bracket in the wall, then you place your books on top and you can’t see the bracket. This looks very nice with minimalist design.
This creative wall shelf design uses hooks to hang books rather than stacking them. Fairly simple- you just need to install the base then attach hooks for hanging the books.
Here they used small wooden pieces to hang the books, but you could also attach metal hooks if you prefer a design like that..Then just add string and hang your best books.
Peg Board Shelves
This pegboard idea combines simplicity and utility. Because the shelves aren’t attached to the board but rather resting upon the pegs, you can change the layout of the shelves if you wish. The most difficult part is attaching the pegs to the board and the board to the wall, but still that’s not a very complex process.
This idea also works great for workshop organization.
Hanging shelves add another element by incorporating rope into the design, but are still very easy to make! All you need to do is cut the wood as you’d like, drill large holes, then lead the rope through and make a large knot on the underside of the shelf.
One great thing about these shelves is that you can add as many levels as you want! Just make sure the wall attachment is strong enough and you can add multiple shelves in one go.
Connected Hanging Shelves
If you want to take your craft and design skills a step further, you can make hanging wall shelves that are staggered but connected. As shown in this picture, you can attach multiple levels to hanging shelves that don’t need to be directly below each other. This design is a bit more complicated, but pays off in terms of aesthetic.
In this design there’s several wooden planks attached to the wall, each with a shelf attached to it. Although, you could use shelves of any type and just place them staggered on the wall.
However, I like this design in the way it sort of mimics windowsill planters, but inside! Also a great idea for garden shelves.
If you’re feeling confident in your crafting skills and also appreciate the immediacy of open shelving, you can opt for an open kitchen. Rather than installing or making kitchen cabinets, you can make shelves to house all your kitchenware and items.
Wall to Wall
Wall to wall shelving requires a close attention to detail, as you must measure the space and cut the wooden pieces exactly to that length. But once the pieces are cut, you’re free to decide whether you want floating shelves like these or traditional shelves with a bracket. This style is very clean and also works perfectly into a minimalist design.
Looking for an easy way to store your bike that still gives you easy access? These simple bike hangers are a great way to get your bike out of the way without storing it away, keeping it accessible and open to admire!
Shelf Hanging from Planter
Although hanging succulents are beautiful on their own, this shelf idea is a great way to maximize any hanging planters you have. As long as your planter is securely attached to the wall, all you need to do is connect rope to the planter and connect the rope and shelving as with the hanging shelves above.
The example here shows a metal hexagon shaped shelf that showcases simplicity. Unless you have prior experience, welding metal can be very complex. So, if you like the metal look, you might want to look for one to purchase.
However, you can easily put one together with wood! As with the previous shaped wall shelves, the most important thing is just making sure the angles fit together. In fact, as long as you pay attention to detail for that bit, you can use any material you’d like!
Inspired by the various tetris shapes, these shelves go beyond conventional linear shelving. You can create shelves like these with turns and angles to create bookends or places to hang objects off of.
Box Shelf with Internal Shelves
This shelf has a meta-design, creating shelves within a shelf. Your first step would be to create a large square or rectangular. Then, start cutting pieces to create smaller shelves within. This example here uses three different layers of shelves with two different designs.
One step up from shelves within a shelf, is to do so and create a pattern while you’re at it! If you want to really develop your DIY craft skills and create something unique to your style, grab a pen and paper and start drafting your design.
You would commence the same way, by creating the outer boundary then cutting pieces to be placed at the interior. This project will just take a bit more time as you’ll need to measure everything precisely and likely cut different sized pieces.
Earlier in this post I included an example for desk organization by creating shelves above the desk, but here is another way to increase desk organization. You can create shelves to expand your desk upwards, so they seem still a part of your desk.
For this you’ll need to create a design beforehand. You’ll need to determine how high up you want the extension to go, how you want the internal shelves to be organized, and then start measuring. Read here for more desk organization ideas.
Built-in shelves can be difficult if you’re in a space where the construction is complete or the walls are very solid. But generally speaking, creating built-in shelves can be a fairly easy project.
The shelves pictured above were made in the process of renovating our entire veranda, so the wood behind was made with these shelves in mind. Read our full step-by-step blog post about built-in shelves to see what all you’ll need.
A full step up from floating shelves, a floating cabinet has the same minimal design effect but on a much larger scale. If you want lots of storage space or need better closet storage, this option may be better and easier for you than creating several individual shelves.
For this DIY shelf you’ll need to create an entire cabinet then attach that securely to the wall. Again, one of the great things about DIY projects is that you can customize the inside of this however you want or need. Rather than buying a generic cabinet, you can create one that has a spot for everything you wanted stored.
Although this isn’t exactly a shelf you can store or display things, it’s just too cool of an idea not to include. And it still involves a shelf!
This project is more advanced than the previous ones just because of the electric work needed for the lights. It’s also important to make sure the ceiling attachment is strong and properly installed so the shelf doesn’t fall, ripping out all the cords with it!
The easy step with this project is that you just need one piece of wood! And once the wires are attached as they need to be, you can wrap the cords around the wood however you like and that part doesn’t require any skills or measuring.
Because a circular shape is pretty hard to construct on your own, it’s best to use an existing item. You can take inspiration from this image, where they used the mirror as the foundation and then added a shelf. There are also ideas using quilting hoops or wheels to turn into wall shelves.
This design is a bit more difficult just in that it requires you to already have or purchase a wheel-shaped object. But once that first and foundational step is done, building the internal or external shelves is pretty straight forward!
Floor to Ceiling Shelving
This DIY project really isn’t much more complex than most of the previous ideas, it’s just much larger. Because you have more shelving to measure, cut, and place.
However, remember you have control over how big the shelves are. You could easily fill up a large space with a floor to ceiling shelf but make the internal shelves large so that you have less shelves to create. You can also taper down and make a narrow shelf while keeping the length of floor to ceiling.
This is another large project, but potentially one of the most functional out of this list. A shelving project like this near the entryway or main door of your house is the most helpful way to avoid piles of shoes, bags, umbrellas, and all those random things that only ever make it this far into your house.
An organization area like this helps avoid a messy entry area, which means avoiding coming directly home to a mess. Plus, it’s important and useful to keep items like your keys and wallet accessible and near the door.
This beautiful and unique shelf idea will be well worth the work. The main concern you need to keep in mind with this project is that it’s connected overhead and all the weight is depending on that. I’m sure the last thing you want is to craft an amazing wall shelf like this, just for it to all fall off the ceiling.
So, make sure you have a really great, high quality ceiling attachment and pay attention to the weight limit. But otherwise, it’s just like any other shelf! You can copy this staircase design or draft up your own version of this stunning shelf idea.
This idea is ranked as hardest simply because of the scale of the project. This will require quite a lot of material and then measuring, cutting, and piecing together. Then even more so if you’re working with a space like this where you need to take into account the stairs, doorway, and TV. Props to you if you’re embracing the challenge!
This project will take a large bit of planning and designing, which takes time, so designate the necessary resources so you can make sure everything is done well. Once you dedicate the time to make an incredible shelf like this in your home, it will be a centerpiece you can see and make use of everyday!
Lastly, an idea that applied to all the previous ones: color! Although this isn’t really a shelf design, it’s worth suggesting that you can do any of these designs in whatever color you want.
All of these DIY projects allow the creative space to alter the design as you see fit for your home, so of course that applies to color as well. For any one of these design ideas, you can paint it to perfectly match the color scheme of your interior.
You Can (And Should) Start
DIY shelves are much easier than you think, regardless of your skill level or experience with tools. It’s so much cheaper than buying shelves that are pre-made and all the same. Why not instead make your own and add a unique twist?
Sometimes at the beginning of a DIY project it can be easy to get intimidated, and once this starts it grows and grows. Or you say you’re going to start that project and you put it on your list and you just never seem to get to it.
Don’t let this be an idea like that- the ideas are already here in this article, you just need to get started! Once you feel inspired to start something new, keep that momentum going and turn the idea into a project into a completed and stylish shelf.