From the earliest thoughts on my studio, I knew I wanted a wall to wall counter height work area with shelves above.  As work on my studio is nearing an end, I finally have my shelves!  Pretty white shelves that pop off my blue focal wall!

white stair tread shelves

On my recent Ikea shopping trip, I picked up eight shelf brackets.  I intended to get shelves, too, but they were out of all the deep shelves.  I couldn’t settle for shallower shelves, because I want ample display space and room for my larger design books.

The other snag was the brackets I wanted, in the larger size, are not available in white.  Nothing a can of paint can’t solve.  I painted all the nooks and crannies of these brackets in my favorite Martha Stewart Tailor’s Chalk.  To make sure the finish was smooth, I used my not-so-secret ingredient for improving paint flow and reducing brushstrokes.

For the shelves I went with my old fallback…stair treads, which I painted white.  I first used stair treads as shelves in my laundry room.  They are 11.5″ deep and a nice chunky 1″ thick.  The unfinished pine treads are about $9 each.  And, the best part…they have a pretty bullnose front edge.  It is my secret tip for cheap, but high-end looking shelves.

To install the shelves I got a little crazy.  Let’s just say I have a habit of making too many holes in the wall when I install shelves.  I wanted to make sure I planned these right.  So, I taped them to the wall with painter’s tape to see if the height felt right.  I even taped up the utensil rail I plan to hang underneath the lower shelf.

white stair tread shelves

With everything taped up, I settled on the bottom shelf being 24″ above the counter.  For reference, that is higher than the bottom edge of kitchen wall cabinets.  I wanted extra head room for my work area.  The top shelf is about 15″ above the lower shelf.  This spacing was to accommodate the large soffit on the left side of the room.  I wanted equal space on the two shelves.

With all the measurements decided I used a 4 ft level and chalk to mark where to hang my brackets.  Yep, I just borrowed a piece of chalk from the kitchen chalkboard and drew all over my wall.  I knew it would wipe off easily with a damp cloth when I finished.

installing shelves

installing shelves

Once all my brackets were up, I set the shelves on top and stood back to marvel at my work.  Oooh, I am in love.  I cannot wait to style these and finally put out all the great containers and decor I have been hoarding for this space.

White stair tread shelves


Before I go, let me tell you how much I LOVE these shelf brackets.  Even though we have a new home (less than three years old), I have found every wall in our home to be wonky.  I have the hardest time hanging shelves.  I even had a complete failure trying to hang floating shelves in the nursery because the wall was not straight.

This brand new wall in my office is no exception.  It bows out about a 1/2″ towards the middle.  The beauty of this bracket style is the shelf does not sit against the wall.  The uneven wall is much less noticeable with these brackets.  Here is a side shot, showing the top part of the bracket that causes the shelves to float out from the wall.


There are just a few projects left to finish on this focal wall of my studio.  I need to build the countertop across my craft space cabinets.  I also have something pretty going up in the center between the shelves.  More to come soon!

Sharing this project here:
Home Stories A2Z
Shabby Nest



In just 15 minutes a day for 5 days, you can refresh one room. Without spending a dime.

Start your free 5-day Decorating Do Over Challenge and get exclusive sneak peeks of my book Free Decorating.

We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time. Powered by ConvertKit
Tagged with:

12 Responses to The Secret to Cheap, But High-End Looking Wall Shelves

  1. EEeeee!! Can’t wait to see the whole room altogether! I love seeing how other people hang stuff on their walls. My husband has a fear of putting holes in the walls, so I’m always looking for a new method to assure him I know what we’re doing. ;)

    • Jackie says:

      Kara, With all my botched shelving projects…If I can do it, anyone can do it. The chalk was so, so helpful!

  2. Lakitia A. says:

    I was trying to find a way to install some shelving throughout my house. I will definitely use this idea. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Laura says:

    Jackie, Great idea using the chalk to mark your hanging lines. Your shelves look great! I don’t know how many times I’ve had to put another hole in my wall because the first hole was not in the spot that I needed. I now use a level but the chalk is going to be an added tool, as well. TFS!!

  4. I love how the white POPS off the pretty blue wall!! Well done!! I, too, can’t wait to see how you style the shelves!!

  5. Colleen says:

    Blue & white is my all-time favorite combo. Gorgeous!

  6. Char says:

    Love the wall color you’ve chosen for your studio. The white shelves contrast nicely with it.

  7. Gwen says:

    Amazing to use the stair boards for the shelves and to reprint ikeas brackets. Where do you come up with all these ideas using other objects to suit your needs?!plus taping first. What a great idea. I’m passing this on as well as its such a great idea!!!

  8. Diane says:

    I too love the wall color. I don’t see it in your whole house color palette. It seems brighter than your guest room azurite. What color is it?
    We are thinking of a similar blue for our basement family room, but concerned it might make the space too dark.

    • Jackie says:

      Thanks, Diane! It actually is the same color, Azurite. It has been a bit more challenging to photograph in this space with less light. I think the white walls around it make it appear brighter, too. I LOVE this color. It will be making an appearance in our basement playroom, too. It is definitely a very saturated color, but bright. I hope it works for you!

  9. Shelly Marstall says:

    Hey Jackie, I absolutely love your shelve and would like to do this for my daughters room. Did you secure the shelves to the brackets for your office. I think I would need to do that for my little one’s room. How would suggest doing that so as to not ruin the shelve surface with a screw. Would you do wood glue? Thanks!

    • Jackie says:

      Shelly, I did not secure mine. But there is a hole for that. You just need to use a wood screw that is short enough not to poke through the top of the shelf. Since the shelves are 1″ thick, a 3/4″ screw would probably be best. I have similar shelves in my laundry room and absolutely love them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *