You know when you have those projects that you start on and you’re all gung-ho on getting that sucker done, then an obstacle comes out of nowhere and you’re back at square one? Well, that’s sort of what happened when we decided to finally get around to tackling the half bathroom. We were all like, “This is what we’re going to do, we’re so excited! Yada, yada, yada…” and then, bam. An obstacle by way of an unforeseen wiring problem with the exhaust fan. We’re still working on that issue (well, my dad is, since he’s our designated licensed electrician). Until we get that figured out, we’re going to move on with another project in this space – more specifically, do something with the 41.5-inch wide wall behind the toilet.
Our initial thought was to put a large piece of artwork on the wall, but after thinking it over (and getting opinions from my family when they were in town last week), we decided that adding shelves would balance the tiny space out and make it feel more “finished”.
Needless to say, there are thousands of shelving options available for purchase out there. Since time was on our side during our 3-day weekend, we decided to tackle a DIY option. While scrolling around Restoration Hardware’s website, I stumbled on these reclaimed wood wall shelves. Greg and I both loved the modern meets rustic vibe and thought it could easily be replicated with some DIY action.
Seeing as how this room is really small along with the reflections from the mirror, it’s really hard to get good photos of the space, so bear with us. Before we took a trip to the hardware store, we mapped out where and how long we wanted the shelves to be with a few pieces of painter’s tape (seriously, we use this stuff for everything but painting). The shelves ended up coming at 30 inches long (leaving 5.25 inches on either side) and 12 inches apart. We decided to go with 10-inch-deep shelves so that they wouldn’t be in the way while using the facilities, but they’d still be functional. At that point, we grabbed our measurements and parts list and headed to the hardware store!
We purchased a 10-foot piece of 2″ x 10″ pine and had it cut into four 30″ pieces (even though we only needed three, we’re hanging onto the fourth piece for a possible future project). We also bought six 10-inch-long pieces of 3/4″ galvanized pipe, six 3/4″ floor flanges and six 3/4″ pipe caps for the shelf brackets. Other necessities included a small can of Special Walnut stain, a sponge brush (we bought a few just because) and a can of spray paint (we’ll get to those details in a second).
First, Greg made the “brackets” for the shelves. All he had to do was take a 10″ pipe piece and attach a floor flange on one end and a cap to the other. We went with galvanized pipe (you can find it in the plumbing section) because we wanted a good, chunky, industrial-looking pipe. However, for a more inexpensive version, you can go with EMT conduit (which is over in the electrical section).
Once all six brackets were assembled (which took only about 2 minutes), I spray painted them with a light coat of Rust-Oleum’s textured spray paint (in Aged Iron). Once they were dry, Greg covered them in a coat of flat black enamel spray paint we already had on hand.
The textured base with the combination of the flat black enamel spray paint made the pipes look extremely similar to wrought iron – a tip we’re going to remember if we ever want this look for a future project.
As you can see, we picked out the ugliest piece of 2×10 framing board we could possibly find because we wanted the shelves to have as much character as possible. Before we started the staining process, we sanded the boards and rounded the edges with a vibrating sander and 120 grit sandpaper. We weren’t looking for perfectly round edges–we just wanted them to look a bit worn.
For the stain, we used Minwax’s Special Walnut, which we already had in our stain/spray paint stash. Greg applied the stain using a sponge brush to ensure it would get down into all of the scratches and nicks we made during the distressing process. We decided not to seal the planks with polyurethane because we really didn’t want a glossy finish of any kind, and we wanted it to look as close as the inspiration shelving as possible, which isn’t sealed. Since a clear coat wasn’t in the plan, we made triple sure the stain was thoroughly dry before we put the shelves in place.
In the photo above, you can really see the awesome character from the “ugly” wood coming through the stain. Greg was lucky enough to hit a stud for some of the right-side brackets. For the other 18 holes, he used toggle bolts to hold everything in place. These puppies definitely aren’t going anywhere.
For us, the weight of the shelves and the texture of the pipe are enough to keep everything nicely in place. Greg mentioned that if you wanted to make these a little more child-/accident-proof, you could take one extra step during the bracket-building process and drill two holes all the way through the pipes using a drill bit meant for metal. You might need a few extra tools (such as a vise–to keep the pipe from turning–and a higher-powered drill). At that point, you’d just need to attach the shelves with screws through the holes in the pipes.
We really love the finished product, and it definitely makes the tiny space feel a bit more on the “finished” side. The shelves really help balance out the vanity wall on the opposite side, and we’re thrilled to have some storage to be able to showcase some pretty things.
When it came to adding accessories, I mainly just worked with what we already had on hand, but also took a quick trip to Tuesday Morning. That’s where I found the wire basket, mercury glass lantern and faux greenery ball. It’s probably obvious from the empty mercury glass vase that I’m not quite finished finding a combination of accessories that I’m in love with – so, I guess you can call this a work in progress. I didn’t want to wait until it was “perfect” to post it because I was anxious to show off our new shelves. Oh and the topiary on the top shelf looks like it’s hitting the ceiling, but it’s really just the angle of the photo. It’s actually about 2″ from the ceiling. I hope to find a more modern (and slightly shorter) one in the future.
Aside from switching the accessories around here and there, without making it look too busy, I also plan on adding something to the top of the toilet tank so the shelves won’t appear as being top-heavy for the wall.
On top of helping the space feel more finished, we’re also pretty thrilled with the price, which was a fraction of the inspiration shelves. If we had purchased these from RH, it would have cost $683 including shipping. All of the supplies for our DIY version turned out to be around $100. Not too shabby.