In this photo from before we started our kitchen makeover you can see that, among other issues, there are inexplicably no upper cabinets on the left side of the room.
Over the past few weeks we’ve painted the walls and installed a beadboard backsplash and now it was finally, finally time to install some open shelves on that wall. I’ve only been wanting to do this for oh, about three years. The reason we chose open shelves instead of cabinets was mainly price–the total for four shelves was just under $60 and we would probably have paid at least twice that for prefabricated upper cabinets. If I had the skills to build a cabinet that might’ve been an option but I am not nearly that handy. Besides, I think open shelves can look really great if done well. After consulting you lovely people I decided to use stained wood boards and black metal brackets. Enter this 1″x12″x6′ pine board (about $12) that I had Nick cut into four shelves for me. The longer ones are 18″ and the shorter ones are 15″.
I made things easy on myself by choosing to use the “dark walnut” stain that I already had on hand.
Working one piece at a time, I brushed it on with a foam brush that I didn’t mind tossing afterwards, since stain is really difficult to clean up.
Immediately after brushing it on I wiped it off with a paper towel. Pine is very inexpensive and one of the disadvantages of it is that it sometimes doesn’t absorb stain evenly. You can remedy this by using wood conditioner first, but I didn’t have any and since the grain of the wood will not really be easily visible once the shelves are installed I wasn’t worried about it. If you are staining a piece of furniture or something else that will be closer to eye level it’s something to consider.
I stained them on the back deck and left them out there to cure for a few days before bringing them in.
In the meantime, I played around with potential placement and spacing using painter’s tape.
I ended up settling on 18″ between the counter and the bottom shelf and just under 15″ between the two shelves. I installed the bottom shelves first, measuring and marking carefully and being sure to keep everything level before drilling the holes for the brackets. This portion of the project was brought to you by Sesame Street. I don’t usually let Jack watch a lot of TV but I took full advantage of it to get this project done. I used these shelf brackets from Lowe’s, by the way.
After mounting each bracket on the wall (using the screws and anchors that came included) I put each shelf up and marked the spot to secure it to the bracket. I put a piece of tape around my drill bit to keep me from drilling the pilot hole too deep. I actually ended up switching to a smaller bit after taking this photo–the first set of holes was too big and the screw couldn’t get any traction. Pro tip: if that ever happens to you just break off a piece of a wooden toothpick and stick it in there. Worked like a charm.
I was thinking that I’d need to color the heads of the silver screws with a sharpie to help them blend in but I actually don’t mind them.
What I did mind, however, was the bit of white peeking through the keyhole near the top of the bracket.
I tried coloring it in with a sharpie but I couldn’t get in there well enough. If you’re trying this at home I recommend using a marker or some electrical tape to darken the area before screwing in your shelves. I didn’t care enough to take them all down and put them back up,
Especially because it’s pretty much invisible from a few feet away.
Here’s the view from the dining room. I’ve since loaded them up with stuff and it. looks. awesome. I’m hoping to get some good pictures to share tomorrow.
I am so, so happy with how these came out. The only thing I would do differently is maybe lower the top shelf to be even with the bottom of the range hood. Now that I have some stuff up there I can see that a 15″ spacing was overkill and I think it would look cleaner that way. Since moving these shelves would be a simple matter of drilling some new holes and caulking the old ones I’m not ruling it out as a possibility, but I’m definitely going to live with it a bit before deciding, especially since they look different all loaded up with pretty things than they do in these photos. I can’t wait to show y’all how great they look now! It was dark by the time I had them finished so no pictures means that’ll have to wait until tomorrow’s post.