DIY Shelving For the Manually-Challenged

Unless you belong to the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, are a skilled amateur handyman, or have watched at least three episodes of Home Improvement, you probably shouldn’t be building your own shelves. But if you are determined to construct a bookcase for your entire collection of Nancy Drew novels (175 books in all) or a floating wall shelf to display your myriad of framed selfies, then you’re going to need a handy guide to help you avoid nailing your hand to the wall. Let me know if you find one. In the meantime, read on to discover some cool ideas for DIY shelving for the manually-challenged. 

Shelves for the Home 

Back in the day when we used to walk twenty miles to school in the snow uphill both ways with no shoes, we also used to build our own shelving units. And by build, I mean throw together and hope to god that it didn’t collapse in the middle of the night. In all seriousness, cinder block and wood plank shelving is one of the easiest DIY shelves to assemble—provided your taste also includes a wooden cable spool coffee table, rustic twine lanterns, and an out-of-control Afro.

You don’t have to be a fan of the ‘60s/’70s to enjoy homemade shelving units, of course (though it helps), as you can get creative with other easily-assembleable material that matches your décor and style. Try apple crates stacked on top of each other, an A-frame step ladder and wooden planks, or even tree branches. Keep in mind that any of these ideas can be painted to prevent your living room from looking like an abandoned backyard. 

Shelves for the Storage Unit 

Most people rent a storage unit for the sole purpose of storing items that they no longer want to trip over (deadbeat ex-spouses excepted). Because of their built-up frustration, they tend to unload their moving truck-full of “sentimental keepsakes” and then beat a hasty retreat. But to get the most out of that 5’ x 5’ space, consider adding some simple shelving.

A tall shelf made entirely out of 2x4s, wood pallets and 2x4s, or apple crates and strong-ties will use up that vertical space. If one of the things you’re storing is a bookshelf, be sure to stash smaller items on the shelves. Wall-mounted, industrial pipe shelving is an alternative method for your basement or if you don’t want to get your deposit back from the self-storage facility.

Shelves for the Office

When furnishing an office, whether it’s in an actual office building or it’s your home office (if that’s what you want to call the sofa and TV), you’ll want a look that is a little more professional. In other words, the apple crates and tree branches won’t do. Try invisible shelving (also makes for a great conversation starter), wooden magazine holders, or a Lazy Susan-slash-coffee table shelf on wheels. If anyone asks, tell ‘em Self Storage Finders said that the rough, industrial look is all the rage!

So you see, with a little imagination, a lot of risk-taking DNA, and a bunch of leftover wood products, you can soon add “handyperson extraordinaire” to your resume! Just remember to have anyone who enters your home, office or storage unit sign a waiver.

Selena Templeton

Selena Templeton is a writer and editor who sees the world through Giggle Glass, a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display plus false nose and mustache. It reveals the absurd, amusing, and inappropriate goings on of daily life and displays it in a lap top-like hands-on format, from which she posts to various blogs such as Self Storage Finders, Romantically Challenged, and As a former professional organizer and a current Virgo, she is a self-diagnosed authority on storage, packing, organizing, and general neat freakishness.

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