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How We Made Thick Floating Shelves + a Video!

Kraftmaid ‘Cayden’ cabinets | tile | slide-in range | range hood

This post is in partnership with Lowe’s. We’re overhauling our kitchen and mudroom with Lowe’s and sharing our experience with you! Here’s our initial design meetinghow we pieced together panels + fillers and how we shopped for durable countertops.

When we first sat down to design Tree House’s kitchen, our initial room layout included three upper shelves. As we worked back and forth with our Lowe’s Design Specialist, we realized that the upper shelves made the small space feel cramped, and we questioned if we needed uppers at all! Our plan all along has been to live minimally in Tree House, and while we’ve been so tempted to purchase kitchen gadgets, we’ll ask ourselves, will we really use this? Do we need this? More often than not, the answer has been nope. So while we do have a few cookie sheets and a basic pots + pans set, we’ll nix the urge to pick up extraneous gadgets. As we chose items, we’re focusing on durability and beauty. We want Tree House to be a place where we love each and every item, and although that’s been hard at times, it’s also quite freeing!

After a handful of design revisions, we landed on just one upper cabinet above the refrigerator, and to the right of the window, we’re opting for L-shaped shelves that wrap onto the stove wall. (We dive into what’s inspiring us in this post!) Our plan is to load up the lower shelf with everyday items (such as our enamelware and that super important jar of dog treats), and the upper will house mixing bowls and sometimes-items (such as fruit bowls and serving trays). We wanted these shelves to appear as if they’re truly floating, and we wanted them to look nice and thick without being too bulky – and, of course, they needed to be strong! It was a delicate dance, but in the end, we achieved the results we were looking for.


2″ x 2″ x 8′ Common pine
1″ x 3″ x 8′ Select pine
Assorted drywall screws
Water-based polyurethane
Foam roller or paint brush
Measuring tape
Stud finder
Speed square
Finish nailer
Miter saw
Table saw

The real secret to these shelves is in the ladder framework. We based our plans around these much larger shelves in our Chicago home’s workshop, although our biggest concern was making them strong since they wouldn’t have side supports. Spoiler, they are strong, due in part to the depth, studs and extra reinforcement from above:

We also had to stop mid-way through the shelving project to tile around the framework. Once the tile was completed (we used this pretty allen + roth tile), we could face the shelves with furniture grade plywood and select pine. Because the tile goes all the way up to the framework, the false fronts, top and bottom look seamless, and snug up nicely to the tile and wall:

marble tray | wood bowl | pitcher | french press | canister | enamelware | mugs

Our shelves are 10″ deep, with another 9″+ between them. They have a finished thickness of 2″+, and there’s 18″ from the countertop to the bottom of the lowest shelf. The trick was finding a comfortable height for both shelves that was easy enough for little ol’ me to reach (I’m 5’4″ for reference), and we found this to be the perfect balance of style and function. We’re sharing the full tutorial in the video below! If you’re viewing this post in a reader, you may need to click over to view the video. You can also view it here on YouTube.

We’ll be sharing a tiling how-to soon (plus another video!), and then we can pull back and share the completed kitchen and mudroom! I can hardly believe I typed that last sentence, but you guys, we can see that finish line. Demolition was last November, we took a break to have a baby (ha!) and plan-to-almost-completion has been roughly 5-ish months. This weekend, we’ll be hooking up the plumbing, running the dishwasher and stocking the cabinets!

PS: To stay up to date with our vlogs, it would make our day if you subscribed to our YouTube channel!

Make your own thick and sturdy floating shelves // video tutorial! // via Yellow Brick Home
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  • Lynn7.13.18 - 6:57 AM

    Thanks for the DIY – we’ve been wanting to add shelving like this to our kitchen. Love your posts because they are so “real”.ReplyCancel

  • Brittany W7.13.18 - 8:39 AM

    I was *just* going to reapply your thicker shelf tutorial to my floating shelf project with a 2-in thickness and no side support. (In fact I commented on that tutorial the other day and you answered!) Now I have a video tutorial for my exact project ? Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Marti7.13.18 - 9:43 AM

    This is so beautiful! I love the tile and shelf placement.ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.13.18 - 10:42 AM

      It was a delicate balance, but we’re happy with how that worked out. Thanks, Marti!ReplyCancel

  • Cecelia7.13.18 - 9:58 AM

    I love the progress you are making on the Tree House! And I love seeing every new blog post! You guys are so inspiring and your posts are so helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Paige Cassandra Flamm7.13.18 - 11:39 AM

    I definitely want to add some floating shelves when we move into our new home this year!


  • Vanessa7.13.18 - 11:49 AM

    Love the floating shelves and am excited to hear how you apply the tile around the window’s pre-existing trim. We’re in the same phase of being done with living with the window/wall gap, so put in trim without yet deciding on a backsplash. We finally have that lined up but wondered if we had to take down our previous work, tile, then re-install.
    sidebar: how cute is the high-fives with the dog at the end??!ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.13.18 - 1:23 PM

      No need to take down the trim! We tiled right up to the trim, and then caulked around it with matching grout caulk.ReplyCancel

  • Vanessa7.13.18 - 8:47 PM

    Wow! Lovely overall and I do like that tile, it’s so pretty.ReplyCancel

  • Kathleen7.16.18 - 4:24 PM

    I think I love the high five at the end the best!ReplyCancel

  • Lu Ann Freema7.26.18 - 9:10 AM

    I love your videos, they’re always so sweet and the tutorials are easy to follow. Two thumbs up!ReplyCancel

    • Kim7.26.18 - 9:31 AM

      We love hearing this, thank you so much, Lu Ann!ReplyCancel

  • Michelle8.6.18 - 10:47 AM

    I’m going to use this same basic idea for installing floating shelves in-between my cabinets and the wall. We’re also tiling right up to the ceiling behind them. Did you wait to apply the finish wood just because of the mess of tiling? I’m not ready to tile just yet, but thought I would get the shelves done including the finish pieces first. Any reason why I wouldn’t want to do that? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.6.18 - 10:50 AM

      By doing the tile around the framework and THEN adding the wood ‘skin,’ it completely hides the raw cuts of the tile. Perhaps you can create a skin that can pull on or off, so that when you’re ready to tile, you’ll have that little lip from the wood to hide any raw tile edges! It gives it a cleaner look overall.ReplyCancel

  • Facebook Marketing9.10.20 - 4:17 PM

    I am extremely inspired with your writing abilities as smartly as with the structure on your weblog. Is that this a paid subject or did you customize it your self? Either way stay up the nice high quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one these days.ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

Join us as we renovate and nurture vintage homes across Chicago + SW Michigan!

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