DIY Floating Corner Shelves

DIY floating shelves (click through for more)Using shelving is a great way to organize and de-clutter a space… I know, I know. Such ground-breaking information. Don’t write me off yet; I want to show you how to make some clean shelving that appears to have no brackets (i.e., floating shelves). You can make them for less than 100 bucks, and the hardest part is figuring out what you’re going to put on them when you’re finished.

This is list is for the three shelves built for a specific space. You can modify as needed for your own space.

-six 2 x 4s
-two 1 x 8 x 12 kiln-dried cedar (be sure to check for warping when choosing your lumber)
-one 1/4″ x 4′ x 8′ plywood
-1 1/4″ wood screws  (I used these)
-heavy duty fasteners (I used these)
-wood glue

-miter saw

-table saw
-Kreg pocket hole jig
-step ladder
-stud finder

Floatingshelf_diagramStep One: Cut all your wood. I find it more productive if I figure out all (or at least most) wood material I need and cut it all at once. You have to make sure all of your measurements are spot-on, or like dominoes, everything will fall apart if you get one measurement wrong, which is a real bummer. If you think of the project as a whole, that all the pieces relate to each other, then it should run smoothly. Hey, if I can do it, you can too.

Here’s my cut list for three shelves:

-fifteen 6 1/2″ x 3 1/2″*
-three 26 1/2″ x 1 1/2″**
-three 46″ x 1 1/2″**
-three 28″ x 8 5/8″***
-three 20″ x 1 1/2″***
-three 37 3/8″ x 8 5/8″***
-three 37 3/8″ x 1/5″***

*2 x 4     **ripped 2 x 4     ***ripped 1 x 8

Cut list for skinning the bottom and ends (1/4″ plywood):

-8 5/8″ x 46″
-8 5/8″ x 26 1/2″
-six 2 1/8″ x 8 5/8″

Sand pieces that will be visible.

DIY floating shelf (material needed)Step Two: Assemble figure A (see diagram). I found it easier to clamp down the 1 1/2″ piece before screwing in the 6 1/2 x 3 1/2 pieces. I put in two screws per piece.

(DIY floating shelves (clampy clamp)Step Three: Assemble the pieces for figure B (see diagram).

DIY floating shelves (pocket holes)Step Four: Alright, now’s the fun part. I’m sure you already have a space picked out. A good way to visualize spacing is to use painter’s tape (Laura dropped that knowledge on me). Once you have the spacing all set up, studs found, and material at hand, you can start putting up the shelves. 

DIY floating shelves (mark the walls)I started at the bottom and worked my way up. Install all of the A pieces first. The HeadLOK fasteners did a great job of making everything super sturdy; just make sure you’re hitting studs! After you have the A pieces up, you can put on the B pieces. You can screw or nail those on. Hopefully your walls are nice and square!

DIY floating shelves (progress _ click through for more)DIY floating shelves (progress _ click through for more)Screw or nail on the underside and end pieces.

DIY floating shelves (end caps _ click through for more)Step Five: Putty any nail or screw holes. One thing I wish I would have done is caulk around the shelves so that there were no spaces showing. I think they still look good, but that detail would have made them a little bit better. Sand once everything is dry; I attached my vacuum hose to the sander to minimize dust. Tape the wall if you are going to paint another color.

DIY floating shelves (spackle _ click through for more)
DIY floating shelves (spackle _ click through for more)Once you paint, you’re done! Time to put your stuff on display (after the paint dries, of course). 

DIY floating shelves (click through for instructions)
DIY floating shelves (click through for instructions)Add a few cool frames with prints, plants, books with unique bookends and your shelves are ready to go! Happy building! -Josh

Credits // Author: Josh Rhodes. Photos: Sarah Rhodes and Josh Rhodes.  Photos edited with Stella from the Signature Collection

  • This is awesome! This is the best floating shelf tutorial I’ve ever seen. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  • I love this idea. I just wish I had a house rather than an apartment. I will definitely keep this in mind if I ever move.

  • WOAH! I love these. I wonder how they would look in a dark grey to keep every accent in my house from being white… 🙂

    • I would like to make the shelves with light gray paint—I will use a wet rag and after painting with a light coat of light gray paint wipe the paint off immediately after painitng so you can still see the grain of the wood. I have already done this and it is just beautiful. And you will love the look of this—to add some interest to the room. You could try this idea on a piece of scrap wood first to get an idea of what it will look like. I am painting an old desk and have used a light gray paint and when it was dry I used a white glaze from (Lowes)–very lightly just brush a very small amount of the glaze on top of the light gray paint and it adds some interesting color to the desk. Just try this on a picece of scrap wood first. Mary Ellen

  • These are great and I love how it’s all decorated with the pretty succulents, book, etc 🙂

  • Love the shelves Josh! But im not sure if I were to do these i’d be able to get the same finish. Looks like the cutting needs a lot of that all the pieces come together perfectly without any gaps. Did you do the styling as well?

  • Thanks Krati, there actually were some gaps. You can only cut something so perfect, there are other elements that come into play like how square the walls are. That’s where putty, a lot of sanding, and a couple coats of paint come into play 🙂 Plus, how will you know if you can or can’t do something till you try it! As for styling, fortunately there are some gals here at A Beautiful Mess that rule at it, so that’s why they look so good.


  • Moving into our new place soon and going to need to make some wall storage area! Thanks for the idea and the detailed instructions.

  • Thanks Josh! I will definitely try these at home. Me and my husband do make a lot of our furniture ourselves..we have a long way to go in terms of finishing..and the styling is oh so good everytime!! 🙂

  • The same systems could also be used to change the IKEA floating shelves whose surfaces have become dull or broken: a “hollow” box that would slide on the existing metal floating frame. thank you for being the inspiration for this fix!
    p.s. this is purely fictional:any similarity to an old melamine IKEA shelf in my living room is completely fortuitous…

  • These are SO pretty!

    Did you paint afterwards because you found sanding necessary, or would it be possible to paint the shelves before?

  • Need more info on the geo-thinga-majingy with the tiny cacti. Where do you get such cute tiny plants? Plus those little candle holders. Great styling job gals 😉

  • Hi Josh, I’ve got a post idea for you… I really want to learn how to build things and get to a stage where I can follow tutorials like this but I have very little knowledge in this area. ideally I’d spend a weekend with my grandpa in his workshop but he’s not around anymore and I have no one else to learn from. I usually do pretty well learning by experimenting and playing but I have no tools or materials to play with. I’m sure there are a lot of readers who would also love to attempt your tutorials but just don’t have the equipment.
    so I was thinking you should do a post on how to set up a totally basic ‘beginners workshop’ from scratch… which tools are absolutely essential, what’s a good type of wood to start with, do I need a proper work bench? what kind? etc etc. I feel like a lot of people would benefit from that kind of information!

  • Your idea is great. I love your great house project. Those shelves are looking truly elegant! Thanks.

  • WOW Josh! This is a great tutorial for floating shelves! We are using the ones from Ikea in our kitchen & they are already tilting from the weight of the dishes, definitely not as sturdy as these shelves. I think we will have to do this to replace them. Your ideas are so creative & your directions are easy to follow. Keep those projects coming! PattyO

  • Love these! They look absolutely wonderful & so clean. I can’t wait to own walls of my own (woes of a renter) to drill things into them!


  • I can never make this myself, but they look absolutely stunning and such practical use for a simple corner!

  • Is there a ballpark weight limit you’d recommend for these shelves? I’m thinking about trying them in my kitchen to hold dishes and a small number of cookbooks, but want to be sure they’ll be sturdy enough for that application. Thank you! Wonderful tutorial!

  • I love this idea and the way you decorated it. It’s something a lot of people would find valuable. I hope it’s alright if I share it! (Giving source credit of course!)
    Please check out my blog on bringing the benefits of beach living inside at:

  • Love this look! I only have 21″ in each direction from the corner – could I do this, or is that not enough space to hit 2 studs to hold them securely?

  • Weight limit pls? Would they work for a serious loaf of books? See the weight q asked a few times….

  • Thanks for sharing! This will definitely come in handy. I have two questions. Is there a reason you paint after they are installed? It seems like it would be easier to paint them before installing them. Also, on the 2X4 cutting list, you state re need 3 pieces that are 37 3/8 x 1/5” and I was wondering if the 1/5 is a misprint. I don’t see any boards that look that thin in the image.

    Thank you.

  • When it comes time to move them, how could you do that without breaking them apart?

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