“Floating” Shelves.

”Floating Shelves” are seeing a resurgence in America, after being dormant since the Mid Century Modern movement of the 1950s-60s.  Long favored in Europe for their clean design, they are again becoming fashionable here, as homeowners embrace the look of kitchens with open shelving units, sans cabinets.  This look is not only aesthetically pleasing, but gives the homeowner quick access to favored dinnerware and kitchen accessories, and a chance to display these items, like art pieces.  Pinterest is crammed with the look.

Our clients in the Five Points/Highland Park area wanted just such a look for their kitchen.  The husband, who grew up in Spain, was used to the open shelf concept, and they’d both travelled extensively in Europe, encountering many a kitchen with this shelf design.  They love their recently remodeled kitchen but were short on cabinet space and really wanted a set of these “floating shelves” to complete the look and provide more storage.

(This is their kitchen before the shelves):




We met at the client’s home to discuss ideas, get measurements and devise a plan of action.  The shelves would be made of strong poplar plywood from our shop (to be reimbursed after the job) and yellow pine, to “cap” the shelves.  They would be attached to the wall face with three 16” Hex bolts, and to the refrigerator cabinet with several 3” Pan Head screws.


Next up was huddling in the workshop for a day to build and assemble the three shelves:  measure, table saw, glue, nail, putty.  Repeat x 3.  We’d let the glue and putty dry overnight and then head over to their house the next day for assembly.

The next morning we went to their house, got the final, favored placement from the clients and pulled out the fridge, to pencil in the various location marks for the shelves.

It may seem easy, in theory, to just screw some shelves to a wall.  But this particular wall would require some finesse, as the shelves would be attached, on one side, to tile — white tile.  A special saw bit would be employed – which we’d budgeted into the estimate – and drilled into the tile with a firm hand, while keeping the saw bit cooled with water.  We then screwed in the big ol’ Hex bolts, slid the shelves carefully in place and drilled and attached the opposite side from the interior of the fridge cabinet.



VIOLA!  Floating shelves.  They look awesome, no?  And since poplar and pine takes a finish exceptionally well, the shelves can be stained or painted with whatever finish the client decides to apply.  They LOVE them!

We issued an instant invoice, collected payment, and bid farewell until the next job.  Less than an hour later we received a text from the clients, with the attached pictures:


(Ya’ gotta’ like it when the work is so instantly loved that they decide to put to use immediately…)

Their dinnerware, cutting boards and needed items are now close at hand, easily within reach.  The clients plan on putting a light oil finish on the shelves, to protect them and give em’ a nice, light gloss.

Cool.  Freaking.  Project.  We want to do more of them in the future.  Needless to say, the clients are thrilled.  They booked two more projects with us:  restoring and installing the original pantry door, and building a new mantle/fireplace surround.