Tiny Shelves

I really like to build things. Like, a piece of wood and a saw and a screwdriver kind of building. It makes me feel all “hear me roar” in a Rosie the Riveter kind of way (not a power-hungry Lannister kind of way). I once took an old set of shelves, deconstructed them, cut them up, and reassembled them into a different set of shelves (yes I know that sounds weird).
This project is not nearly so hardcore as that, but it’s still pretty satisfying. I wanted a way to display and store some things in my bathroom, and I couldn’t find anything suitable at the stores. Also it’s a lot more fun to make it.

I didn’t take an “ingredients” picture this time, but here’s the list of what I used:
– narrow wooden boards, cut to size
– hot glue sticks and gun
– Gorilla glue
– small metal brackets with screws
– paint

I already had most of the supplies I needed for this project. The boards were originally for a different project that didn’t pan out. The paint is from a furniture refinishing project I did last year. The hot glue and gorilla glue are always good to have around. The only thing I bought specifically for this was the little brackets!

The first hurdle I had to jump over was creating a “lip” on the edge of the shelves to prevent things from falling off. This is especially important for delicate objects or on a wall that may shake (like next to a door that can slam). I think a skinny dowel rod could also serve this purpose, but I decided to go free-form and create the lip with hot glue.

Just get it nice and hot and begin applying the glue, as close to the edge of the wood as possible. I use a mini gun, so the glue is pretty small. I did one pass, let it cool, and then stacked another line of glue on top of the first. If you use a standard glue gun, you may only need one line.

Now it’s time to break out the hardware. These brackets were like a dollar a packet at Walmart. I like Gorilla glue better than any of its competitors, but you can make your own choice there.

Figure out the placement of your brackets. Since this wood is so narrow and bendy, I definitely needed to make sure this thing was securely supported. When you’ve got the placement, apply a small amount of Gorilla glue to the bracket and press it firmly into place. Hold for a few moments. When it’s secure, move on to the next and repeat until all your brackets are placed.

Let them sit, unbothered, for a while, to make sure they’re secure.

I wanted to make double-sure that the brackets were strong, so I got out the hot glue again. I filled in the screw-hole and went around the edge of each bracket.

Now it’s time for paint. I went with a medium-dark grey, but of course you can choose any color your heart desires. I painted the glue, the wood, everything.

Once they’re dry, all you have to do is attach them to the wall! The brackets should have come with screws, so go to it. NOTE: you need to take care that you don’t place anything very heavy on these shelves. I’ve built them strong enough to hold quite a bit of weight, but the drywall can’t handle it. If you ARE going to load your shelves up, get some wall anchors and do it right.

I really think these turned out good. They serve exactly the purpose I wanted them to serve, and look cute in my bathroom. I could have found or made a “traditional” nail polish shelf, of course, but I needed these to be a bit more multipurpose. I’ve got that art print, for example. These bottles on the shelf by itself were only there for the photo – now I’ve got another print there. I have also been known to prop my Kindle Fire up there so I can listen to Pandora while I clean.

I have a vague desire to drape some lace or something from them, partly to mask the brackets. If I were making these again, I’d invert it so that the brackets were attached to the bottom, but extended UP, so the contents of the shelf would hide them. Live and learn, people. 🙂

Where would you put them? They’d be great for holding collections of small things, like maybe some Matchbox cars or Lego minifigs. Are you afraid of power tools? I challenge you to get them out and get brave. 🙂

Lady Macguyver – Craft Storage Edition

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about finding ways to use things I already have to decorate my home. I have a whole bunch of art supplies in one of my hall closets, but it all just sits behind the closet door and doesn’t do anything. With that thought, I resolved to get some of my pretty things OUT of the closet and into the house. So I bring you TWO quick and easy projects!

First, behold the lovely Fabric Ladder! Want to know what I made it from?

The rail from my daughter’s old crib!
I’m definitely not the first to think of this – I am positive I’ve seen this idea around the wubs. I think it makes a great addition to my hallway – it’s rather narrow and bare, and this ladder adds a big punch of fun and color.
If you don’t have an old crib in your garage, I bet you can find one like this for free on Craigslist! Drop-side cribs were recently outlawed for sale in the US (I think that was dumb, but that’s not important.), so there’s bound to be lots of people near you with one that they can’t sell and are encouraged to not use. Place a quick want ad on Craigslist for a drop-side crib, and mention that you’re not going to use it for a baby. I’d be willing to bet that someone gets in touch with you and you should be able to pick it up for free. Each crib should give you two long rails like this to hang with fabric (for those of you with tons and tons of fabrics).
(I’ve got an idea up my sleeve for the springy mattress support piece, as well, by the way.)

I wanted to actually hang the “ladder” on the wall, but it ended up being far too heavy, so I just arranged my fabric and leaned it against the wall. I suppose with proper support (screws into studs, for starters), you still could hang it if you wanted. I suspect this idea would also be great for displaying things like quilts and other pretty fabric things, as well.

Secondly, behold the amazing Ribbon Rail! It’s fitted into a narrow strip of wall between my two hall closets, and it really livens up the joint.

You’re never going to guess the materials on this one. The rail is a simple metal dowel that I got at Home Depot months ago. I used it to wrap wire to make jump rings (but now I have a real mandrel so I don’t need it for that). It was cheap.
The rail is supported by… you know those little things you get to screw onto cabinet doors so that kids can’t get into the cleaning supplies? Those.

I had these laying around and they just happened to be the perfect size. I haven’t been able to look, but I bet you can find a proper L-bracket at a hardware store. The child-lock-thing was great because it has a small dent close to the end, which holds the metal dowel nicely. They are designed to bend a little, so if I want to take a spool of ribbon off, I can simply lift the top bracket and pull out the entire dowel. You can’t see it in either of these pictures, but the setup with the lock-thingie is the same at the top, just upside down.
Take care to test the weight of your Ribbon Rail, making sure that your L-bracket will support it. The things I used have no problem with the weight of my ribbons.

I am so happy with how these turned out. My hallway is now brighter with color, and I can change them on a whim!
Do you ever wish you could make some use of all your extra craft supplies instead of leaving them in the closet? Share your ideas in the comments, or better yet – go make it and share it!

Organizing, Downsizing, and New Things

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been realizing that I’m very unhappy with the layout and working of my home. I can’t do much about the physical form of the building, of course. But I feel like my furniture is wrong and that the “flow” of the house just isn’t working. The main symptom of this is that it’s very very hard to keep it clean and organized, because it just doesn’t WORK.

I’ve been talking to Jonathan about it over the past couple of days, thinking and talking and passing ideas around. Trying to come to some decisions and conclusions about how to improve it.
Also playing into our discussion is the knowledge that we will be moving later this year – knowing that we have to pack, we have a desire to downsize and pare away the excess, as well as organize things now so the packing is easier later.

Here is a list of what I’ve got running in my head, about what I want to do with my house:
– rearrange the living room (but it’s long and narrow so I don’t know how)
– buy an e-reader and begin to pare down the books and clean the shelves
– better organization of our movie collection
– buy shelves and baskets to create “hidden” storage for the stuff that accumulates around the rooms (dining and living rooms, specifically)
– find a way to incorporate a “landing strip” where keys, wallets, mail, etc, can be dropped on the way into the house (no room near the garage door where we generally enter)
– organize the vast amounts of paperwork we possess. scan and shred as much as possible.
– downsize some of the dishes, upsize some others (I know that makes no sense)
– decor is not satisfying – change it!
– get a coat rack or two
– down size the “stuff” – is it important to me? If not, why do I have it? If yes, then is it being used to the best advantage?
– install shelves in various places (above microwave, in bathroom) for storage and display
– purchase large airtight containers, so we can buy large (warehouse-size) amounts of staples like flour and sugar

That’s all I can assemble in my head at the moment. I’m constantly scouring the internet, so I have a ton of ideas in my head for new decor, new organization, etc, and I am looking forward to beginning. (When we get our income tax return, I’m hijacking part of it for specific use on these projects.) So you can consider this list to be a preview of things to come on this blog.