Floating Shelves

Floating shelves can bring a little architectural interest to an otherwise blank wall. These floating shelve are easy to hang and remove, and can be made as long as you wish. Inspired by Young House Love's Floating Shelves.

Special thanks to Ashleigh for sharing her photos.


Projects built from this plan. Thank you for submitting brag posts, it's appreciated by all!


Author Notes: 

photo from Young House Love
Love Young House Love's Floating Shelves?
photo from Young House Love
Yeah, me, you and Better Homes and Gardens and DIY Magazine.
So let's get ourselves a Young House Love dining area! Starting with those floating shelves . . .
photo by Ana White, shelves built and designed by Ana White

Rather, THESE floating shelves. Built these this morning, wanted to test out the smooth and shiny finish, the skill level, and the sturdiness. And the floating shelves passed. Love, love, love! Super easy and cheap too!

photo by Ana White, shelves built and designed by Ana White

So where's the hack? Gimme the plans?

Well, you gotta go to Young House Love to get the plans. That's right, I'm blogging on EST today! Clock out - expect to be over at Young House Love for quite some time, their home is inspiring, their design taste makes me think moose antlers and beach colors could go together.

How to Build Floating Shelves like the Youngsters
Project Type: 
Estimated Cost: 
Skill Level: 


Thank you so much for these plans, Ana! I've been wanting some big floating shelves like that for awhile now, but don't live anywhere near an Ikea. So thank you!! They look awesome!

LOL! I've only just now realized that you are several time zones away from me and not just a night owl! I hope I'm not this dense once I start actually trying to follow your plans ;)

I'm so happy the youngsters featured you on their blog again! I started following your blog after YHL posted something about Knock-Off Wood back in January. Thank you for doing all of this, Ana! You are so inspirational.

I am in love with the adorable wood elephant on your top shelf! Too cute!! (Oh, and great job on the shelves too!)

I absolutely love your blgo! Especially since you're so skilled at SketchUp! Kudos to you! Keep up the amazing work! You're an absolute inspiration to me!

YES!!! I was just about to visit Ikea and buy a set of floating shelves for my dining room. But when I opened your website today and saw this, I changed my mind. Looks like I'm going to make a trip to Home Depot instead :-)

THANK YOU!!!! I have been wanting floating shelves for several years now, but haven't been able to find them in the size I want. You just solved that problem.

Ana, help!

So I made three custom length shelves today! They are awesome! I will be ready to sand and paint them tomorrow. I was wondering if you had advice on what to do on the gaps between the plywood and pine. If it makes any sense at all.. it looks like there are “seams” inside the plywood and also a tiny gap between the plywood and frame. Will the primer/paint cover those gaps up? Your finish looked beautiful and I just want to make sure mine will look the same!!


p.s. this was also posted on YHL's blog!

I used a wood filler and filled all edges, much like you might use drywall spackle and cover screw holes. I filled any layer holes in the plywood edges too. Then I sanded well, using first a 80 grit, than 120 and than 150, until the edges were smooth. Then I primed with a thick primer and painted with a high quality gloss paint. Can't wait to see!

Thank you so much Ana! I'm going to have to try my hand at this today.

Do you have a brand of wood filler you would recommend? I have a tube made my minwax but I find it incredibly hard to handle (or it could just mean I'm not good at it!).

Ana, I posted this over on YHL, too...but thought it might be better over here since it is an older post. Thanks for simplifying this process for us!

"I am a BIG fan of both YHL and Knock-off Wood. I love the idea of being able to customize these floating shelfs to fit my space. I plan on starting the project this weekend. This will be my very first project.

However, I am a bit confused on the measurements. I am probably just missing something, but I don’t understand how the frame fits inside the sleeve. Is a 1×2 actually 3/4″ wide? Otherwise, at 1″ the frame would be 71″ (69″+1″+1″) and the interior of the sleeve would be 70″ (72″-1″-1″). Please tell me what I am missing…"


Thanks so much for this post. I have been wanting to make these for some time. How are yours holding up?

Is there a maximum length that you recommend? I would like to make one about 8' long. Is that too long?

Jonathon, the longer the shelves, the better (as long as you are tying into studs all the way down). Mine are doing fabulous!

We're moving into our new house next month (yay!) and I'd like to make these shelves to hold our DVDs and TV components--DVD, DVR and VCR. Would there be an issue structurally if I increased the depth to 10"-12" for the components shelf? Maybe if I added some more frame studs? Thanks for the awesome plans!

I was wondering the same thing. I saw that the Ikea ones are 10" Wide. Would that be a problem? I figure you were trying to get 3 out of 1 sheet of plywood and that is why they are smaller.

Jessica, Rebecca, I did choose the width to conserve materials, you are so smart! Yes, you can do a 10" width, but I would not go much wider. If you wanted to do a 12" width, I would advise you to build the frame from 1x3s instead of 1x2 to get a chunkier shelf that will have more support. Good luck with your shelves. Ana

Ana I love these shelves! One more question about wider shelves. Fiance and I are trying to make the shelves pretty deep - 16 inches. But we don't want them to be too thick so we wanted to stick with 1x2's. Would it be possible to use 1/8" plywood or lauan instead for the shelf sleeve to make it lighter instead of using 1x3s? Plus we already bought all the 1x2s AND 1/2" birch plywood before we realized it would be WAY too heavy! So, we really would like to use the 1x2s but we also want shelves that can hold more than say, a feather, a flower, and a baby's sigh. Help and Thank You!


I made these. Great plans, thanks! I wasn't prepared for the amount of sanding I had to do to get these smooth, so I think next time I will build them with slightly nicer wood. :) The paint color is Benjamin Moore Salsa and I clear coated.

Your site rocks! I will post the ledges I built after I get them hung. Working on cubbies next! Thanks so much!!!!


omgoodness! thank you soooo much! strong and floating shelves have been something i have been truly boggled by and have tried looking into creating without a lot of success - not being an experienced carpenter. i saw the picture posted above with the frame exposed and it has made my day, lol! Awesome! thank you!

I am working on putting these shelves together and just finished my first one of 4′. With the support and outer box, it all just seems pretty heavy to me. My 4' shelf will span 2 studs but I’m worried about the shelf holding itself up without sagging or falling off, and then of course even more worried about putting much of anything on it. Any suggestions or am I just being paranoid about this? How heavy were yours? Do you have an unofficial estimate of how much they can hold? I'll probably just end up putting it up and seeing if it falls down but I am a little nervous.

Hi Ana! I love (LOVE!) your site and I come over here at night and look at all the things I'd like to do during tomorrows nap time. It's very cathartic. Got my mom hooked on Knock Off Wood too :)

My question is two-fold: (1) do you think this would support books, or would it be better used only for pretty vases and decorative stuff? ...and (2) Am I the only one who can't find 1x2x8 pine boards for less than five (!) dollars apiece at the local blue or orange? This is madness right? Or am I missing something? Perhaps it's where I live...

Thanks for any adice you can give and keep up the beautiful and inspiring work!!

PS...I built your picture ledge shelves for a bunch of rooms in our house and my husband now thinks I'm a rockstar :) Thank you!

[...] anything, so when I found Ana’s blog about simple plans to make furniture, I got so excited. This is the first project I started, and I have almost finished them, I have no idea why I can’t [...]

I love these! I'm looking for shelves to put above my desk that can hold a few books, paper, and office supplies. Do you think I could adjust this plan to 10 inches instead of 7 inches? I think 7 inches may be too narrow for what I need it for.

This is an awesome idea.. and actually similar to a permanent design I’ve made for a floating computer desk… which is extremely destructive and permanent.. but worth it 100%.

I was wondering though since its only a 1×2 support.. how much weight can go on it? I’ll be making 2 or 3 48″ long shelves. My plan is to put books on them, preferably all of my computer and photography books and possibly light picture frames.

I’d probably rip down a 2 x 4 to a 1 x 3 making the shelves a bit thicker but offering a little more support and I can stuff 3 screws into each stud which should be a total of 3 studs.

What are your thoughts as far as its strength and it sagging?