Home Renovations: Wall Shelves.

Shelves for books and looks
Paired atop a piano,
Music to my ears.

After our neighbor gave us a beautiful piano (yep, best neighbors), and it was given a prominent spot in our living room, we decided some shelves above it would be great. We mulled over the idea for a few weeks until David noticed some very interesting shelves at a local coffee shop, Good Coffee:

They were perfect and I knew I had to recreate them. My favorite part was the little alcove for a plant in the center. Yes, please. I immediately sketched out a blueprint, measuring the wall and noting the studs.

I used painters tape to create a mockup on the wall, which stayed up for quite a while.

Then came the research for what type of shelves to use. I didn't want to use brackets underneath because they compete with books or decor for shelf space. And I liked the clean lines of floating shelves. My first plan was to use steel floating shelf brackets (these can be pretty expensive for the heavy duty versions) and buy big 2"x10" solid wood boards and drill in the holes for the steel bars. I headed to Lowe's to check out the lumber, and their head guy talked me out of it. Mostly, it would be extremely difficult to drill a perfectly straight hole by hand. There was no room for error. I hated that he was right, but glad to contemplate some cheaper options. The two of us walked around the shop for almost an hour, and new ideas started percolating. I was back to the drawing board and went home to re-think my plan.

I ended up buying 1"x10" boards and adding a lip to the front and exposed sides. I also found some steel braces to use underneath that are mostly hidden (especially when painted to match the wood/wall).

The whole experience was quite a learning process. And very old school. I sanded and set every last finishing nail by hand. But for my first real woodworking project, it felt like a right of passage. (Though I definitely have an air nailer and orbital sander now.)

I also learned a lot about wood filler, wood glue, and trying to get even paint without using a spray can. I didn't want the streaks of a paint brush, and even the low nap that was recommended by a Home Depot employee had too much texture. Thanks to some amazing friends, I learned that high density foam rollers were the way to go. And I used a foam brush on the underside edges. The paint is Behr's Ultra Pure White (which we'll slowly be using on all of our interior walls.)

In the end, they're not perfect, but they're exactly what we wanted, and I'm quite proud.

Some links:
The brackets I almost bought
Similar braces to what I used
Nail Setter
High Density Foam Roller

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