How to Install Wall Shelves with a Study Space

Decorative wall shelves with an integrated workspace can bring more style to your study area, as well as a good deal of extra storage. You can use them to display books, decorative objects, and more! Find out how to build and install your own in just a few easy steps.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
5 hours
Before You Start
The types of planks and screws you use depend on your bookshelf size and the chosen shelving layout. Wood screws, for example, need to be adapted to the specific shelves and brackets and will need to be in two different sizes. Plank width should be 20", while the length will be informed by the shelf number and size.

Measure the Wall and Locate Studs

  • 1.1Measure the wall for the installation.
  • 1.2Locate the studs using a stud finder and mark them.
  • 1.3Measure how far apart the studs are to decide where the standards should go and how large the bookshelf should be.
Person locating studs using a stud finder

Pro Tip

Securing the standards to the studs ensures a solid installation. If they cannot be attached to the studs, then anchors should be used.

Install the Shelf Standards and Brackets

  • 2.1Measure and mark the height of the standards to ensure that they are properly aligned.
  • 2.2Use a level to check that the standards are straight before securing them to the wall.
  • 2.3Attach the brackets at the location where the shelves should sit.
Person installing shelving standards
Person installing shelving brackets

Pro Tip

Securing a standard to every other stud will help create a more balanced design. Take some time to try different bracket locations until you find a layout you like. Brackets for the desk should be deeper and are best placed at a height of 27" to 29".

Measure the Shelves and Cut

  • 3.1After the brackets are installed, measure the distance between them to determine the length of the shelves. Measurements should be taken from the outside of each bracket, with an extra 1" added to both sides so that the shelf can lay flat.
  • 3.2To make shelves that are 10" deep, cut the 20" planks lengthwise in half.
  • 3.3Cut each shelf to its required length based on the desired layout.
Person measuring the distance between two shelving brackets
Person cutting wooden shelves using a mitre saw

Pro Tip

Create a more spacious feel by leaving some room between the sides of the shelves and the wall. A shelf that is at least 30" long and 20" deep will make for a comfortable workspace.

Sand, Stain, and Varnish Each Shelf

  • 4.1Working along the grain of the wood, sand all surfaces and edges on the shelves.
  • 4.2Apply stain in a thin coat.
  • 4.3After the stain is dry, apply varnish.
  • 4.4Sand once more with fine-grit sandpaper and finish with a second coat of varnish.
Person staining wooden shelves using a brush

Secure the Shelves

  • 5.1Lay each shelf flat on the brackets and install using two screws on each side.
Person placing wooden shelves on brackets
Person using screws to install wooden shelves

Pro Tip

Screw the shelves into each bracket through the two small holes. Note that the bracket depth varies from the front to the back, requiring two different lengths of screws.

Complete the Look

  • 6.1Gather the items, like books and decor, that you want to display and place them on the shelves.
Wooden wall shelves on a white wall

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