Paper Pipes

While shopping for holiday terrarium supplies at our local Sprout, we spotted their easy (and genius!) way for displaying pretty papers. We snapped a phone photo as a reminder, and just recently, implemented the idea in our studio:

We got all our supplies at Home Depot, and once home, the whole project took less than thirty minutes. And in other news, I’m apparently a teenage boy, since I discovered that the metal “rods” are called nipples. Honestly, I had no idea I was so childish – Scott actually had to tell me to cool it. (Really, it was quite the ordeal.)

Tools used:

• drill
• tape measure
• anchors (we used 50 lb EZ Anchors, but 30 lb supports would work, too)
• adjustable pliers
• level
• pencil

Supplies needed for two bars, shown below, clockwise from the top:

• two 1/2″ x 24″ galvanized steel nipples
• four 1/2″ floor flanges
• two 1/2″ x 2″ galvanized steel nipples
• two 1/2″ x 2 1/2″ galvanized steel nipples
• four 1/2″ 90 degree elbows

We used the 1/2″ diameter for our needs, but this whole set up can be customized however you like. Because we were planning on using the bars for paper storage, we chose the friendliest size for our space constraints since weight wouldn’t be a major factor. You can also see that we chose to have two different sizes for the shorter, um, nipples. This was a purely aesthetic decision for us, and it’s up to you to tailor as you wish.

And because I’m, oh, thirteen, from here on, the nips will be referred to as threaded pipes.

Step 1: Using adjustable pliers, thread the shorter pipes into the flanges. They won’t go all the way in (you’ll still see the thread), but as long as it’s tight, you’re set.

Step 2: Thread the 90 degree elbows onto the exposed side of the short pipes.

Step 3: Thread the long pipes into the exposed end of the 90 degree elbows to connect the ends. We used the adjustable pliers to make sure everything was secure, and by laying the complete pieces on a flat surface, you can check to see that everything lines up. (Note: the camera lens distorted the photo, below, making the pipes appear warped; they’re not.)

Step 4: Measure where you’d like the finished pipes on your wall. I held the pipes into place, eyeballed the placement (big surprise!), and Scott double checked measurements on either side. Once he guided me to the proper placement (to the left! down on the right!) and made sure we were level, he marked with a pencil where our anchors would go.

Step 5: Install your anchors and screw your completed piece to the wall. Repeat step 4 for the second pipe, then admire your work. (Again, we assure you that our pipes are straight. Oh, the woes of a wide angle lens!)

At that point, I happily unrolled my stash of pretty papers for the top bar (they’d been hiding in cardboard tubes for far too long), and that bottom tissue might look familiar for anyone who’s ordered a pet portrait (it’s used in our packing).

For reference, it hangs in the nook behind the studio door. Scott’s closet is the obnoxious wall that juts out on the left, but it does make for a cute, hidden cubby.

The approximate total for our configuration came in around $40, although that cost can easily go up or down depending on the rod diameter, length of threaded pipe and finish you choose.

We love that it has room to grow (we think it’d be fun to add more above and below!), and as mentioned before, it can be made-to-fit any space you have in mind. And on the opposite window wall, we’re toying with the idea of using this same concept as a curtain rail. We’ll see. For now, I’m enjoying my mini wrapping station of sorts, and the next time some pretty papers catch my eye, well, I can justify my need to purchase – because for once, they’ll have a home!

Where do you stash your fancy, shmancy papers?

See more of our studio ideas on our Pinterest board, right here.

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  • I’ve been hunting for something like this forever!!! ahh love that I can just simply make the pipes instead of buying ridiculously expensive ones already made — brilliant! =)ReplyCancel

  • Miranda @boucksy2.9.12 - 9:12 AM

    What a clever idea! But I do wonder, will the paper towards the pipe under the weight of the rest of the paper ‘stack’ be bowed over time as it sits there? I would hate for the paper I wanted to have a bow to it instead of be flat like I had anticipated by the time that I used it.ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.9.12 - 9:30 AM

      Hey Miranda! I suppose it’s definitely possible – I imagine our heavy tissue paper might have a strong middle curl, but since we use it to wrap (and fill and smoosh), it’s not a concern for us. For pretty papers, perhaps it’d be best to have no more than 5 or so on each rod. This is a good excuse to make many, many rods for a whole wall of prettiness!ReplyCancel

  • Katie G2.9.12 - 10:01 AM

    Hahaha nipples. I definitely think that is hilarious. I work for an electrical integrator, and there’s a lot of “female” and “male” part references (like for plugs and such things) and I giggle in my mind every time, still after two years.ReplyCancel

  • Cait @ Hernando House2.9.12 - 10:14 AM

    I love this!! I just pinned a similar curtain rod design (by West Elm) as a future DIY project for day we (eventually) turn our back porch into a sunroom. I love the idea of doing something like this in a studio!ReplyCancel

  • Caitlin @ Desert Domicile2.9.12 - 11:34 AM

    Such a great idea! I’d love to make a longer version for industrial looking curtain rods since a similar curtain rod is $99 at West Elm.

    Do you think support in the middle would be needed or is the pipe strong/thick enough that it wouldn’t bow from the weight of curtains?ReplyCancel

  • Kirsten Nieman2.9.12 - 11:42 AM

    I’ve always wanted to do this for curtain rods – but I love the idea of hanging/displaying pretty papers. Genuis!ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.9.12 - 11:43 AM

    Hi Caitlin! We used the 1/2″ width, and it’s very, very strong. I could hang off of them without the worry of bowing. If it’s still a concern and if you have heavy/long curtains, you can always choose a wider diameter threaded pipe. With that said, I don’t think it’s necessary – a standard curtain rod that you’d purchase at West Elm (or elsewhere) isn’t as strong/thick as these pipes!ReplyCancel

  • katie2.9.12 - 11:54 AM

    I love the industrial look of these – they could look great in a bathroom for towel hanging too if the decor had that sort of edgy vibe. I’m thinking of all sorts of ideas now. You could hang hooks off them! Wheels turning….ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.9.12 - 12:00 PM

    Katie – agreed! They’d look great in a kitchen with pots and pans hanging off of them…ReplyCancel

  • Jami @ What the Graham?!2.9.12 - 12:03 PM

    I LOVE this!! I actually built a sliding barn door using the same system! You made them look so sleek and awesome!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.9.12 - 12:23 PM

    Jami, we’ve been wanting to DIY a barn door for the studio, too. How well would all that tie together?! Just pinned your tutorial – it looks awesome!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl2.9.12 - 12:24 PM

    If you were worried about the papers bowing, you could use S hooks and curtain hooks to hang the paper.

    I love this look, but I love the map paper even more. Fantastic!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn2.9.12 - 4:38 PM

    Mad skills sister! Looks great. I think I’d like these sprayed gold or white for the guest bath. Ooohhh.. or maybe a mix with the elbows gold and the bar white? Or black?
    Thanks for the ideas!!ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.9.12 - 4:44 PM

    Jenn, a gold and black combo would look so chic! Great idea!ReplyCancel

  • Lacy @downMODERNhome2.9.12 - 7:07 PM

    The pipes are great! When we lived in a loft we used pipes and curtains to create a concealed closet out of a niche space. (BTW…the nipple thing cracks me up every time and my husband is always giving me that “really, you can’t be serious look” ;)ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.10.12 - 10:03 AM

      Hah, glad to know I’m not the only one who finds the nipple funny!ReplyCancel

  • MamaHolt2.10.12 - 10:15 AM

    LOVE these. What a great idea to use them for paper. I see some tea towel holders in my future.

    We did something similar for our bookshelves. Total ripoff from The Brick House, but we love them anyway and often pretend it was our idea. wink.

    Loving your Pinterest board too. I am married to Pinterest. It is my husband. Or wife. Or whatever.

    Love your blog!ReplyCancel

  • Kim2.10.12 - 10:39 AM

    MamaHolt, yours turned out GREAT! Scott and I considered the Brick House tutorial for our big media wall, but we went another direction in the end. They look awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Chris2.12.12 - 11:19 AM

    Love this! I’ve been using the Bygel rails from Ikea for hanging fabric and paper. They work great as long as you don’t plan to hang more than 15 or so pounds on them.ReplyCancel

  • Lyndsey2.12.12 - 8:23 PM

    SO CUTE! I totally want to steal this idea if that is okay.ReplyCancel

    • Kim2.12.12 - 9:03 PM

      Lyndsey, you should definitely implement this idea! We’d love to see photos when you’re finished.ReplyCancel


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