How to Build Wall Shelves with a Study Space

Whether you use them as a bookshelf or to display your favourite objects, decorative wall shelves with integrated workspace add a touch of style to any room... not to mention all that extra storage! Discover how to make your own in just a few simple steps.

Difficulty level : 
Duration : 
5 hours
Before You Start
The choice of screws and planks depends on the size of the bookshelf and the layout chosen. For example, you will need wood screws adapted to the shelves and brackets chosen (two screw sizes). For the shelves, opt for planks 20” wide; the length depends on the number and size of the shelves.

Measure the Wall and Find the Studs

  • 1.1Measure the wall.
  • 1.2Using a stud finder, locate and mark the studs.
  • 1.3Next, measure the distance between the studs to get an idea of how big the bookshelf will be and how to place the standards.
Person measuring a wall and using a stud finder

Pro Tip

The standards will be secured to the studs so that everything is solid. If that’s not possible, use anchors.

Install the Standards and Brackets

  • 2.1First, make sure the standards are aligned with one another by measuring and marking the height they’ll sit at.
  • 2.2Before securing the standards to the wall, use a level to check that they’re straight.
  • 2.3Place the brackets where you want the shelves to sit.
Person installing shelf standards
Person installing shelf brackets

Pro Tip

For a balanced design, secure a standard to every other stud. Feel free to play around with the brackets until you find the right layout. Remember to use deeper brackets for the desk, and place them at a height of 27 to 29”.

Measure and Cut the Shelves

  • 3.1Once the brackets are put up, measure the distance between one another to calculate the length of the shelves. Be sure to measure from the outside of the bracket and add 1” on each side so the shelf lays flat on the brackets.
  • 3.2Cut the 20” planks in half lengthwise to create shelves 10” deep.
  • 3.3For the length, cut each shelf based on the layout chosen.
Person measuring the distance between two shelf brackets
Person cutting wood shelves using a mitre saw

Pro Tip

Leave some space between the walls and the sides of the shelves for a roomier feel. For a comfortable workspace, opt for a shelf at least 20” deep and 30” long.

Sand, Stain, and Varnish the Shelves

  • 4.1Sand the surface and edges of the shelves along the wood grain.
  • 4.2Apply a thin coat of stain.
  • 4.3Once dried, apply the varnish.
  • 4.4Sand again with fine grit sandpaper, then apply a second coat of varnish.
Person staining wood shelves with a paint brush

Secure the Shelves

  • 5.1Lay the shelves on the brackets and secure them in place using two screws.
Person placing wood shelves
Person using screws to secure wood shelves in place

Pro Tip

Use the two small holes for screwing the shelf into the bracket. Since the bracket depth varies between the front and back, be sure to have two different screw lengths.

Add the Finishing Touches

  • 6.1Place books or decor objects on the wall shelves.
Wooden wall shelves with books and decor objects

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