One of my favorite house qualities is a room full of windows that let in lots of natural light—it can literally brighten your day. In reality, most homes or apartments have a mixture of rooms where some are brighter with more light and some are, well, not so bright. Our main living rooms in our new house have big windows that look out into the front and back yards, but the bedrooms have much smaller windows, and to be honest, they aren’t exactly my favorite feature. Not only are they small and high, some of them are kind of awkwardly placed on walls so you aren’t totally sure where to place furniture in the room. Our master bedroom has doors to the closets, bathroom and hallway, so there’s kind of only one wall option for the bed to be against. Once we center it on the wall so there’s enough room to walk around on each side, the window is pretty far to the right. So it creates a bit of an off-balance look that’s bugged me since we moved in. So, what do you do when you have an awkward window placement?
You can see the window on the right and how it makes the left side feel really bare comparatively. The key is to fill that corresponding mirrored area (where the dashed lines are) with something so that, instead of seeing one off-center window, your eye will read the whole thing as one unit that hangs above the bed. And what can you do in that area? Lots of things! You can do several rows of separate open shelves, a small gallery wall, rows of hanging plants…anything that will fill that dashed line area and create the feel of one cohesive unit.
Since the window has some pretty thick white trim, I thought I would build a box shelf the same size as the window and paint it white so it would match the white trim. Also, with the busy wallpaper, it seemed better to build the box shelf instead of having open shelving or plants hanging from the wall since the back of the box shelf would create a solid area and the shelf items would visually stand out better.
I first had the local home improvement store cut a piece of 1/4″ thick plywood to the same dimensions as the window. I also chose a few boards that were 1/2″ thick and 5.5″ wide to be the sides of the box shelf. I could have asked the workers at the store to cut those down to size as well and built the box with straight cut sides, but I wanted to try the 45° cutting option on my miter saw at home. If you have them do straight cuts at the store, just cut the two side pieces to the exact height of the box and then cut the top, middle and bottom width pieces to be the total width minus the width of the two side boards on either end. So, if your box is 20″ high, 30″ wide, and your boards are 1/2″ thick, then cut the two sides pieces to be 20″ and your top, middle and bottom pieces would be 29″ (30″ minus the two 1/2″ wide side pieces that will fit on either end).
Since I was trying the 45° angle on my saw, I made the longest edge of each angled piece to be either the exact height or width of the box and then cut a straight edge piece that could fit down the middle between the two side boards as a middle shelf.
Thankfully, all the edges fit together!
Once the glue had set, I flipped the box over and used 1 1/4″ wood screws to secure the plywood to the boards from the back and screwed the edge seams together from the bottom and top for stability. If you ever want to put a screw into wood but don’t want to see the screw head from the outside, pre-drill a hole for the screw with a small bit and then use a bit that is a tiny bit bigger than the screw head to drill into the same spot but only about 1/4″ deep. That way, when you put in the screw, the head will sink further down than the top plane of the wood and you can simply fill the hole with wood filler and sand down flat when the filler dries. What screw? I don’t see a screw…
Once the box and screws were attached and any gaps filled with wood filler, it was time to paint the shelf and attach some keyhole fasteners for hanging. Definitely use some anchor screws in the wall if hanging a heavy shelf—especially if it’s right over your head like mine is!
I feel like this shelf solution was exactly what we needed to fix our awkward window dilemma. Not only does it mirror the shape and size of the window to help balance the window placement, but it helps break up the busy wallpaper with a more solid section as well. And, besides, who doesn’t love more shelf space to display plants and other trinkets? Whether you use a box shelf, multiple single shelves, or a grouping of hanging plants or art prints to help solve an awkward window problem, it’s totally worth the effort to bring a little more balance to your cozy space. xo. Laura
Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Beautiful Mess actions.