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I can’t believe the overwhelming response on the floating book shelves that we did in the nursery!  I have been obsessed with that thought of these ever since I saw them in my inspiration room and I am so glad to see that I am not the only one loving the idea. 


So how can you get this look in your space?  Well here is what you will need.  The measurements below are to do this on a wall of a similar size to ours – you will need to adjust if you want to do a larger/smaller space. 

Supplies Needed

  • 6 – 1’ x 4’ x 6’ Poplar Boards Pre Cut Boards
  • 6 – 1’ x 8’ Poplar Trim Pieces
  • 20 – 1/4” x 4” Flat Head Hanger Bolts
  • 2 – 1/4” nuts
  • Chalk Line or Level
  • Stud Finder
  • Wood Glue
  • Finishing Nails
  • Paint

1. Measure your space and determine layout

We had an extremely scientific method for laying out the shelves.  It consisted of me standing back and saying “I think I want six, with the first one starting about this far from the ceiling and the last one right above the outlet.”  Seriously – that is how we got started.  But it worked and from there we were able to decide that we wanted 13 inches between each shelf and that would give us a total of six. 

We also had to determine length.  Again – it was extremely practical.  “I want it to be this far from the window and this far from the other wall.”  (I know you guys can see me all pregnant directing my poor hubby around with the ruler.  The man has so much patience to put up with me!)  We marked those lengths and were able to figure out that we would only have cut down a 6’ board by a minor amount to make that length work.

2.  Find the studs and mark your lines

Once we had the layout figured out – we used a stud finder and a chalk line to mark each shelf.  You will want to find the stud on either end of your shelf and mark those at how far apart you want them height-wise.  Then you line up your chalk line on the two ends and snap it to get a level line.  Once you have that line – you can mark the studs in between your two ends. 


3.  Install hanger bolts

Now if you haven’t ever worked with a hanger bolt – this is what they look like.  See how they are threaded tight on one side and looser on the other?  The tightly threaded side is called the machine threaded side.  The loosely threaded side is called the wood threaded side.  You are going to install the wood threaded side into the wall and leave the rest of it out to mount the shelf on.

To install them, you need to find the center of the stud along the line for your shelf.  Pre-drill a hole for the hanger bolt.  Then thread the 2 1/4 inch nuts on the machine thread side of the hanger bolt.  Tighten the two nuts against one another using two wrenches to make a place on the hanger bolt that you can use a socket on.  Then use either a deep socket with a ratchet OR deep socket on a drill with an adapter.  Slide the socket over the two tightened nuts and screw into the wall up to the end of the wood thread.   It is critical that you keep them as straight and centered as possible.  As you install them – they will look a little like the picture below. 


4.  Cut your boards and trim to length and attach trim pieces

Next you need to cut your boards down to the length you have determined you want for your wall.  If you want to have trim on the ends of the boards then you also need to account for that in your measurement.  Use either a miter box or a miter saw to make the corners of your trim all pretty!   Below is a close up of what our trim looks like – I didn’t get pictures the day the hubby was working on it!  (Bad blogger!)


Once your trim is cut – attach onto the shelves with a little wood glue and some finishing nails.  A nail gun makes quick work out of this but isn’t a necessity.

5.  Mark where hanger bolts will line up and drill holes into shelves

Once you have your shelves constructed you will need to take them into the room and line them up against your hanger bolts based on where you want the shelf to start and end.  Mark the center of where each hanger bolt will line up and make sure your marks are centered on your shelf.  (NOTE:  Make sure you have your shelf flipped the right way when you are marking it!  We had one that we had to redo because it was upside down when we marked it.)  Once those are marked you want to drill a slightly larger hole (either a 3/8” or 5/16”) into the shelf.   Test fit shelf on wall by sliding over hanger bolts – make any adjustments necessary to get a snug and secure fit. 


6.  Paint shelves

Once your shelves are all ready to roll – all you have left to do is paint them.  We ended up painting the same color as our trim in the room, but you could get really creative with these. 

7.  Mount and make pretty

Finally – all you have to do is slide the finished shelf over the hanger bolts and you are ready to decorate.  I think shelves like this would also look amazing as a gallery ledge with lots of pictures or artwork. 


How about one more shot of these in the room!  Ahhh… I love them so much!


So there you go!  Those are all the steps you need to make these fantastic shelves for yourself.  They really aren’t that challenging to make!  Now that you have seen the how to – are you going to try it?  I wanna know!

P.S.  Make sure you check out the full nursery post for a recap on the design and the how to for all the great projects that went into the room!

Linking this up to

Metamorphosis Monday with Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch

56 frugal friends said ...

Be Colorful Coastal said... @ June 26, 2011 at 9:16 PM

What I love about this project is that it takes less space out of the room. Great job. Visiting via BNOTP
Pam @ BeColorful

Dee said... @ June 27, 2011 at 7:28 AM

These look great and I really like this idea! I'm wondering though, how easy would it be for a young child to walk up and pull one off the wall? Do they feel like they're secure?

PC said... @ June 27, 2011 at 7:44 AM

Absolutely genius and so lovely and functional!!! Totally in love!

Paul said... @ June 27, 2011 at 7:57 AM

Great idea and so simple, thanks

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said... @ June 27, 2011 at 8:05 AM

Dee - they are very secure. I can't get them off myself - the hubby has to tug and pull. If you make sure the holes that are drilled in the boards are as snug as they can be then you shouldn't have a problem with stability. And we have pressed down on them REALLY hard. They stay in place!

Anonymous said... @ June 27, 2011 at 9:33 AM

So, the board just slides on over the threads?

Melissa said... @ June 27, 2011 at 2:58 PM

What a fantastic book collection! The shelves are just so wonderful I had to feature them over at my Storage Geek blog.

Unknown said... @ July 2, 2011 at 1:19 PM

Awesome! Thanks for the tutorial. These would look great in my son's new room.

Audrey @ Sweet Cheeks said... @ July 2, 2011 at 8:32 PM

SO excited to see the tutorial post is up! I have the perfect spot in the kiddos' playroom...definitely trying it once I get the hubby on board - LOL! Thanks SO much for sharing this SUPER FAB idea!

Anonymous said... @ August 20, 2011 at 5:33 PM

I just stummbled accross your blog after searching for bookshelf ideas on pinterest. This is a great tutorial and I am excited to undertake this project soon! I would like to try using the same measurements that you did, but I was curious how high your ceilings are. Thanks!

hpotter77 said... @ September 25, 2011 at 5:44 PM

I love the bookshelves. I have a small room that I want to turn into a library, but putting full size shelves in would take up most of the space in there and these would be perfect. I was wondering, though, if you know about how much weight each shelf can hold? Thanks so much for sharing your tutorial with us.

Jenifer Harrod said... @ November 11, 2011 at 1:02 PM

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Cyndy said... @ December 26, 2011 at 8:10 AM

These look wonderful. I have a question though, if you are just sliding these on, how are they so secure? Do you put some wood glue in the holes before hand? If you could clarify that, thanks.

Anonymous said... @ December 26, 2011 at 9:43 PM


As an architect and mom I can tell you that this is also DANGEROUS as your lilman starts crawling around!

To make it safer you could try putting glue in the wholes and resetting (test and see if it stand a toddler shaking this up)

The safest way will be old fashioned brackets...

Anonymous said... @ February 20, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Are the books jst propped against the wall? No board in the front to hold the books in place>>>

Anonymous said... @ February 25, 2012 at 11:48 AM

If you're worried about someone pulling the shelves off the bolts, you can use painters caulk to seal the seam between the wall and the shelf. By using painters caulk you will be able to paint over it to match the shelves.

Delina said... @ March 31, 2012 at 7:28 AM

Can this only be used for hardcover books and board books? Would paperback books slide off? Just wondering if you've experienced that.

Lee Gurr said... @ April 8, 2013 at 2:33 PM

Here's my tip to add to your already great one: if you're going to stack books or plates or other flat "collectibles", add a little piece of trim molding (flat, half-round, or fluted) to the top flat edge of the shelf so that things don't slip off. Works great in a dining room or area for wine glasses and champagne flutes, too!

BigRambler said... @ April 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM

I think you mean 6- 1" by 4" by 6' boards and 6- 1" by 8' trim pieces, Yes?

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Rilane said... @ May 12, 2014 at 4:51 PM

Great simple shelves :)

Anonymous said... @ July 8, 2015 at 12:51 AM

This is perfect for my husbands large collection of books. Are you still answering questions for this project? I want to know what the 1/4" nuts were for. You only listed 2 in the materials list and from the image with all the bolts projecting from the wall it looks like you only have nuts on one bolt. Why? And what purpose does it serve? How have these held up over the years? I plan on putting 2 shelves along the ceiling in my bedroom for my husbands books.I will likely add a cleat along the bottom of each shelf to help bear the weight of the books, I'm sure his books weigh significantly more than children's books plus his will be stored library style...lol. Anyhoo, I would appreciate it if you hadn't forgot about this post as it is still floating around in cyber space just waiting for a new DIYer to discover it and ask questions. Thanks a lot :)


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