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DIY Adjustable Shelves for a Corner or Nook

I’ll be honest: I’m running out of energy for the final projects in my basement bathroom remodel. But it’s so close, if I can muster the will to finish!

This project turned out way cooler than I anticipated, although I had it pictured in my head for weeks and weeks (like everything else). Remember this early picture from my bathroom nightmare?

BEFORE: Weird cutout with metal decorative thing.

Well, I decided pretty early to keep that little cutout and turn it into open shelving for decor. My husband was weirdly attached to that metal…thing, but I yanked that outta there real quick. (Sorry, not sorry.)

No regrets.

Then I added some framing and drywall to the backside. Then, after a little joint compound here and paint there, I had a little nook/corner ready for my shelving plan. This project was simple and easy, and really it could work for any corner, not just a nook like the weird one I had. You could make it any size too, even running the whole height of a room’s corner.


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My corner/nook ready for shelving.

Step 1: Measure and cut. The narrow side of my corner was 4 inches. I decided to run my 1x2s this whole length and shorten the other wall’s 1x2s where they’d meet at the corner. This left my longer corner side needing 1x2s that were 9 1/2 inches. So, those were the lengths I would cut a whole bunch of 1x2s for my shelving supports – an equal number of 4 inch pieces and 9 1/2 inch pieces.

For the top and bottom of my shelving area, I decided to cut 1×6 boards down so they’d hang 1/4 inch beyond the edges of the wall. (If you’re doing this in a normal corner, you don’t need these top and bottom boards at all.) This meant I needed to cut 2 pieces to be 4 1/4 x 9 3/4.

That was it for measuring! I went out to my garage and cut a bunch of 1×2 boards and then also cut my 2 pieces of 1×6 to the correct sizes. Easy peasy. Some of my cuts were a bit rough, and I wanted these pieces to all be as smooth as possible to the touch, so I quickly used some sandpaper and went over all the edges. I especially sanded down the corners of my bottom board since it would hang out beyond the wall.

Step 2: Attach the bottom piece and caulk. Because I wanted to make my spacing look right, I set the bottom piece in place and used a few small shims to make it level. Once level, I used Brad (my nail gun) to nail the piece in place. This would let me quickly space out and nail on the shelving supports and be sure I had them level.

There was a slight gap under the bottom piece where it met the drywall, so I took some paintable caulk and filled the gap. This helped it look as seamless as possible.

Caulked gap.

Step 3: Attach the 1x2s. I went up the narrower side first, since that side would cover the whole length of the side without needing to leave the right space for the other wall’s 1x2s.

I lay the first 4-inch piece on the bottom board and nailed it to the wall. Then, using one of the cut 1x2s as a spacer on top of that piece, I put the next piece in place and nailed that on. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Adding narrow side 1x2s.

Once that side was finished – I got lucky in that my spacing allowed my top piece to test fit nicely over my top 1×2 without a gap or too narrow a space – I started on the longer pieces. I used the same method of starting at the bottom and using a spacer. This time was even easier because I had the other 1x2s to meet at the corner. It only took a few nails for each piece to hold them secure, despite being longer than my 4 inch pieces.

Step 4: Fill the nail holes and stain/paint. Using some wood filler on my finger, I rubbed it into the nail holes to hide them.

Filling nail holes.

At this point, I decided I didn’t like the yellow-ness of the natural wood, so I found some leftover white gel stain and brushed it on the exposed fronts and ends of all the shelf supports. This might’ve been easier to have done back before I nailed them on the walls, but at least this way I covered my nail holes evenly, plus I didn’t waste any by staining sides that wouldn’t end up showing. It was also easier this way because I didn’t have to handle the 1x2s and get the stain on my fingers. 😜 While I was at it, I also stained the bottom board that was attached and the top board that wasn’t yet attached.

White gel stain.

Side note: I’d already painted the nook walls, and I considered painting my shelving pieces the same color. I’m glad I didn’t because I like the contrasting look of the whitened wood, but you could paint or stain any way you like in any colors and I’m sure it would look great!

Step 5: Attach the top piece and caulk. I’m sure I could’ve used math and found the exact space I needed at the top that way, but really it was dumb luck that my 1x2s ended at the top with just enough room for the top piece to fit without a gap or too narrow a space to fit. You might want to work out how to account for spacing at the very top. I’d still use my spacer method for the lower supports (more on why in a minute), but for the topmost 1x2s you could fudge the space a little to fit the top piece without it being too noticeable.

Top piece added.

Anyway, once the top piece was on, I caulked the gap just like I’d done to the bottom. I also quickly filled my nail holes and touched up the stain.

Step 6: Cutting and adding shelves! Here’s the important part about using a 1×2 as a spacer: The 1×6 boards I used to cut my shelves were the same width as that 1×2 spacer. Keep in mind that wood dimensions are never truly “1 inch”, so you can’t just measure 1-inch spaces. But the boards will be the same thickness, so this spacer will be the same size as the boards for shelves.

With my spaces ready, I decided to cut the shelves a little short of the full width and length of my shelving supports so they wouldn’t stick out too much when people walk by this narrow part of the bathroom.

So, taking the same 1×6 that I’d used for my top and bottom pieces, I cut 3 shelves at 9×3 1/2. Next I quickly sanded the edges, then used the same white stain and painted that on.

(They are the same size, really.)

Once dry, I took them to my corner nook and tested them in different support spaces to decide where I liked them best. They fit everywhere and stayed put! Because these stay so snug in the supports, there’s no need to attach them, and this also makes them adjustable as you like.

Shelves on! Done!

That’s it! I love how these shelves turned out, and it’s rare that you want to see the supports as part of the design. I could add even more shelves if I ever want, but for now I have to decide what to put on these! 😜

AFTER: Adjustable shelves!

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