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Picture of Built-in Kitchen Shelves!

I spent my winter vacation building these shelves into the wall of my little kitchen. It's a fun project if you're looking to upgrade your kitchen and have a couple days to burn.

Step 1: The Kitchen Wall!

Picture of The Kitchen Wall!

This is my lovely non-load-bearing "interior" kitchen wall. I jigsawed out a peephole to check where in the world my studs are hiding. My stud finder was acting bonkers on me.

**Be extra cautious of wires in the wall!

boocat7 months ago
Your wife is a lucky woman! This is just wonderful. What a fine man you are. Thank you for sharing with us. It has given me several ideas... :D
sockit1 year ago

I'm not a structural engineer, but I do know that wall sheathing (ie sheetrock, OSB, plywood) DOES play a role in the rigidity of a building, whether or not it is a 'load bearing' wall. Walls are designed not only to support loads from above (compression), but also side loads (lateral), and others. Which walls, and/or how much sheathing can be safely removed, I cannot answer. I suspect that removing the sheathing from small areas of some walls would have little or no appreciable effect. Some walls are more important than others in resisting these lateral forces however.

For simplicity, think of a basic 4' x 8' frame ('wall') built of 2x4's. By itself is very weak, if you push on the edge it will easily deform. Now properly nail or screw a sheet of drywall on one side, and the structure is vastly stronger. On both sides stronger yet.

So just don't go pulling the sheathing off your walls to create storage space without fully considering structural consequences.

TomS273 sockit1 year ago
Normally I would agree. However, because he added the 'shelves' in between the studs, this easily will replace any lost rigidity from removal of the sheeting. Remember that 2x4 studs deform much more easily when pushing on the wide face, but not so well when pushing on the narrow face. So I seriously doubt that he caused any structural issues in removing the drywall. If anything he may have increased the stability of the wall by the addition of all the cross peices for the shelves!
boocat TomS2737 months ago
I was thinking that, too, that he made it a little more sturdy adding all that cross support.
bryans workshop (author)  sockit1 year ago

Thank you for your comment! These are all things that should be considered before taking on a project like this.

Sheathing is the covering on the outside of your house.

With a non-loadbearing wall like this, there are head plates and floor sills attached to the ceiling and floor joists. With the studs, this wall is incredibly strong and can support its own weight. Any added covering of filling on a wall like this is for aesthetics, fire prevention and sound proofing.

TerryR911 year ago

This would be a great idea for hallways too as my kitchen doesn't have any wall space.

bryans workshop (author)  TerryR911 year ago
That sounds awesome! I hope you do it and make an instructable.
SusanH751 year ago

Very nice:)

bryans workshop (author)  SusanH751 year ago
Thank you!
marvelmx1 year ago

Looks beautiful. Unfortunately, it doesnt work if you have real walls. However, it gave me an idea for shelving over a door.

bryans workshop (author)  marvelmx1 year ago

Awesome! What's the idea?

Wow, great idea and very well executed. I didn't notice the pattern until you mentioned it and then realised how well it frames the shelves, why it made me look into this project in the first place
bryans workshop (author)  PaulNaude011 year ago

Thank you very much!

abinc1 year ago

I've done this, too. Gauging by the number of comments, it is a popular project. I'm glad you posted so those who haven't done this may be motivated to do so. One concern: I love cedar and have used fencing in applications similar to yours. I find that shrinkage and warpage is a real issue. I don't know when you completed your project, or how you sealed the shelves, but I wouldn't be surprised if one morning you awoke to a crash as something on a shelf fell to the floor and the shelf it was on is no longer straight! Beware!

JamesA411 year ago

Awesome! I did similar in the kitchen with cabinet doors over the shelf on the area where there is a closet behind and the shelves are wall thickness and on the really deep area that goes over the basement stairs. I left open the area where the microwave fit in and added a switchable outlet. I put open shelves on the area above the stairs going down to the basement. Really made use of that space above the stairs for the kitchen and basement stairway. Great idea of using space!

bryans workshop (author)  JamesA411 year ago

Wow, sounds awesome!! I love the microwave idea! Thank you for sharing!

jeanniel11 year ago

Thumbs up!

bryans workshop (author)  jeanniel11 year ago

Thank you very much!

Pa19631 year ago

That it's a load bearing wall will have no bearing (see what I did there?) on a project like this. The plaster or drywall will add little strength to the wall. You will have some extra sound in a room on the opposite side of this wall, but not a lot, as a standard stud wall will transmit a lot of sound through the studs, even when covered in plaster or drywall. To reduce sound transmission significantly, you have to acoustically isolate the drywall from the studs. You can either strip the existing drywall, then attach new drywall with special clips that do that, or add a second layer of drywall using a special adhesive that also isolates acoustically.

bryans workshop (author)  Pa19631 year ago

Thank you for the great info!

"That it's a load bearing wall will have no bearing" is clever and almost poetry. As long as the studs are left in place, of course is the necessary caveat.

Should the homeowner desire a wider shelf and cut a stud to provide that width, jacks and header will be required.

autotech11 year ago
I like how your shelves turned out, it's a great idea. I wanted to do that in our house in the office/den for all of our books, but we have metal studs that would need to be torn out and then install wood studs in their place. That wasn't something I was willing to do.
No need to tear out the metal. You can buy metal stud track and “ cap” the open side. Then, using metal cleats you can attach shelves. Alternately, you can insert wood into the open side of the metal stud.
Cap the metal stud with lattice slats to decorate or go for the industrial look and leave the metal exposed. Google “ metal studs “ to see how to fasten them , etc
Metal studs are easy!!

Thanks for the suggestion, but I built a set of stand alone shelves instead. They take up more room, and even though they're getting on in age, (like me), they still look really nice and don't encroach on the space that much that I would get rid of them just yet.

"for all of our books"

This approach would not serve for shelving books as the "shelves" are bur 3.5 inches deep. If you have th room to add to the thickness of a wall such that the result is about ten inches deep . . .

If I had made them, I would have used 1x8's for the shelves, which would have made them 7 1/4" deep, deep enough for our books. With 16" on-center studs, the thickness of the 1x's would have been sufficient for the weight of the books.

bryans workshop (author)  autotech11 year ago
Go for it! David R has the perfect answer for you.

What a fantastic 'ible! Seriously, this is one of my all-time favorites! I've seen the occasional in-wall nook for a tchotchki or three, or maybe a small book shelf - but it never occurred to me to do such a big section of wall. Nope. Never. Even. Thunk-it. <3 :D <3 :D <3

One can essentially create a large cabinet in this manner - look for a suitable cabinet door at the thrift shop (Habitat ReStore?) or two if you can find a matching pair. The doors from tall cabinets may well come with the cup hinges installed - making fastening to a stud a snap. All you need find is one as wide as 16" or so. If you frame the opening with 3/4 material (a 'face frame') you will gain another ten percent of shelf space (depth) in the process.

bryans workshop (author)  ccooper-burke1 year ago
Awesome! Thank you very much!
Wild-Bill made it!1 year ago

That is an incredible way of increasing storage space. Being 3 1/2 inches deep it is nearly perfect. I too have a small kitchen and have found ways to increase storage using things like a ceiling hung pot rack. A friend of mine, who was also a contractor at the time, told be about creating a floor to ceiling cabinet where the shelves were only 4" deep, so nothing would get hidden behind anything else, which is similar to your solution. I turned that idea around and put it onto pull out shelves. My solution is no where as pretty as yours but as functional.

cab1.JPGcab2.JPGcab3.JPG

Those little spice jars can fit underneath a wall cabinet - look online for a drop down affair (Under cabinet drop down spice rack: https://www.amazon.com/Cabinet-Sliding-Folding-Kit...

I've used one of these for years and fin it quite handy for those pesky little jars that so love to hide behind their larger cousins. Of course, I got mine at a garage sale for about two bucks - and it's lasted for years!.

bryans workshop (author)  Wild-Bill1 year ago
Wow, awesome! Thanks for sharing your pictures. What a great idea!
pgs0709471 year ago

If your drywall is fixed with nails or screws, just use one of the super strong magnets to locate them. I pull out most of my nails and replace with screws to stop the inevitable "popping".

A nice use of wasted space. The only reservations I might have is anything to do with possible fire breaks and any acoustic/insulation problems. The fire break issue could be solved by using a second backing of drywall board or one of the cement fibre backing boards.3" of Rockwool really doesn't add much acoustic attenuation.

With care, you could use structural walls, as in the UK, the only real difference between load bearing and non load bearing is that one uses nominal 3" CLS and the other nominal 4". Sometimes you will find additional uprights at door and window openings, but other than that, there is very little difference. When I say with care, I mean remove one upright at a time, but your shelving or whatever frame if using decent structural timber and solidly built, would be just as good. as the original studs and noggins. After all, "pocket" doors are used in structural walls. As an additional measure, I might look at some protection for the exposed timber like an intumescent paint.

Nice project

I've found that, a half-inch diameter disc magnet, son the 'catch' end of your tape measure can serve as an effective 'stud fastener finder.' The tape is extended a foot or so and the magnet is slid along the wall until it 'deflects' or 'grabs' a nail or screw. Once that fastener is located, repeat along that line about 14->16" to the right of that fastener as studs should be 16" O.C. After each stud is 'discovered' and marked, repeat vertically from each located fastener attempting to locate three fasteners (vertically) for each stud so you can draw a vertical line between the marks to 'get a visual' and plumb line for each stud you've found.

If there is a switch or duplex electrical outlet, you begin your first 'search' to the left and right of the outlet as they are almost always fastened to a stud (new construction) making it easier to locate your first stud.

bryans workshop (author)  pgs0709471 year ago
Great info! It's very helpful and I really appreciate it.
phyllis1241 year ago

Very nicely done! I have done this in the wall storage before and it adds a lot of storage. But, you did not cut any of your studs as I can see, so it doesn't seem to matter if it had been a load bearing wall. When I did mine, the studs only got stronger with the shelves added between the studs. It stiffened them up more!

bryans workshop (author)  phyllis1241 year ago
Nice! I'd love to see pictures. I'm doing this to my workshop room too and surrounding the shelves with faux bricks made out of clay. It should look pretty cool.

Sorry, I don't live in that house any more and don't have any photos. I made mine as a pantry in the utility room and put doors on them. It is amazing how much you can get in the wall!

Missiepad1 year ago
I love this
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