DIY: Heavy Duty, Bracket-Free Floating Kitchen Shelves

One of the most frequently asked questions I’ve received about our kitchen remodel is how the heck to build the floating shelves that are heavy-duty enough to hold dishware but also are bracket-free.  Well friends, it’s pretty easy.  And pretty inexpensive.   Well worth giving it a go in any kitchen.

floating shelf cutting boards (1)

heavy duty floating shelves close-up

modern white kitchen pendants

The idea is pretty basic.  So here’s everything you need to know to build your own heavy duty floating shelves.


Use threaded rods inserted into both studs in the wall and into your floating shelf.  Of course this isn’t the only approach – you can use L-brackets in the wall like this, cleats like this, or a torsion box like this.  All of these approaches will work, but we wanted thinner floating shelves, nothing wider than 1 1/2″ inches, which meant these other options wouldn’t work for us.  So after a bunch of research, we went for the threaded rod approach which seemed the most solid for the look I wanted.    Here’s what you’ll need to do your own.


  • 12″ lengths of 5/8″ threaded rod  – quantity depends on the number of studs you have to drill into
  • 2×12 framing lumber, cut to the desired length of your floating shelf
  • 1/2″ drill bit (long enough to drill 3″ into stud)
  • 5/8″ drill bit (long enough to drill 8″ into shelf)
  • epoxy or construction adhesive (optional but recommended)
  • drill
  • level
  • measuring tape
  • hammer
  • mallet
  • stain and waterlox or polyurethane to seal the shelves


The basic concept is to drill  and insert the threaded rods into the holes in the studs.  Then make corresponding holes in the shelf.  Then slide (or pound) the shelf onto the rods.

Start by using a level to put a line on your wall where your shelf will go.  You’ll use this line to align your holes for the rods.

Next drill use your 1/2″ drill bit to drill holes into the wall studs 3″ deep, keeping the drill level.  Yes, need to use the 1/2″ drill bit for your 5/8″ rod so that they rods aren’t too loose.  Otherwise it won’t give any support.  See the loose rod in the below pic (hint, second from left).

threaded rods floating shelves

You may want to remove the drywall to ensure you are drilling into the middle of the stud, exactly.  We did that and it was an easy patch (especially when the patched areas were then covered by tile).  We also installed our shelves first then tiled around them, but you can do it the other way around, too.

tiling progress

Once your holes are drilled into the studs, pound the rods into the holes just a little and then twist in the rest of the way, making sure they are straight and level.  Because they are threaded they act like screws so you can twist in the larger rod into the smaller hole.  We used vice grips.  You can also use construction adhesive/epoxy in the holes to make sure the rods stay secure.  We skipped that step and found that twisting the rods worked just fine (and once we started there was no easy way those were coming back out to allow use to insert epoxy).

Next mark where you need to make corresponding holes in your shelf.  We used basic measurements and held up our board to make sure things would align okay.

Using your 5/8″ long drill bit, drill about 8″ deep into the shelf for each of the rods.  You want the larger hole to allow for some play when putting the shelf in place.

Once you’ve drilled your holes, slide the shelf onto the rods.  Chances are the rods won’t be perfect so you’ll need to use a mallet to hit the board onto the rods.  Check for level before fully attaching the shelf – once you do there isn’t an easy way to pull the shelf back off (trust me on this).

Then finish off your shelf by sanding it smooth, staining if you want (we skipped that), and finishing with waterlox or polyurethane.  Wait for everything to dry/cure and then load that sucker up with all your dishware.

DIY heavy duty kitchen open shelves

finished under cabinet trim

Clearly we have a TON of heavy dishes on our shelves and they haven’t budged.  I’m kind of thinking that’s an excuse for me to be able to load these shelves up even more – maybe a colorful dish set when I’m bored of white??


  • Pick the straightest wood you can find.  You can use a higher quality wood, but the framing lumber is inexpensive and works well considering you mostly just see the front edge.  Pick a piece with few knots, especially on the exposed edge, and no one will notice that it is framing lumber.
  • Keep you drill level.  Seriously, don’t screw this one up.  You want your holes in the studs and in the shelf to be as straight as possible, both up and down (for level) and sideways (so they fit in well).
  • It is easiest to sand the shelf before installing it to keep your house dust-free or in my case, a little less dusty than usual.
  • You can finish however you want – distress for a more rustic finish or even paint.
  • If you are having trouble with the holes aligning, you can widen the hole in the shelf but not in the stud).  You can also use a hammer to pound the rod sticking out of the stud up/down/sideways if necessary.
  • Test fit everything and check with a level before using any construction adhesive or epoxy.  Our fits were so tight we didn’t bother with either – and nothing is moving.
  • Caulk where your shelf meets the wall for a more finished look.

open white kitchen

modern white kitchen pendants

Really, the process was pretty straightforward and the result is exactly what we wanted.  So if you’re looking for a bracket-free, heavy duty floating shelves, this is a great way to go!


p.s.  I added all the kitchen sources onto our Kitchen Reveal post so you can find them all here.  And thanks for all your love about our finished kitchen here and on Instagram – you guys are THE BEST!!

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Linked:  Remodelaholic.

Kitchen Reveal

Today seemed like a good day to reveal our kitchen remodel, so here it is.  Get ready for a seemingly never-ending post filled with photos of marble, natural wood, white cabinets, brass, and a few green things for good measure.

modern white pendants kitchen

white kitchen wood cutting boards

sink dishwasher remodel

white kitchen chalkboard fridge

viking 8 burner range

pulled back kitchen dining room

Exciting, right?!  And I’m glad my Instagram public proclamation made me finally pull these pics together.

This whole process started well over a year ago after moving into a house with bleached wood cabinets, tan glass tile, a tiny sink, and probably the world’s first-ever laminate flooring.

bleached wood cabinets

Over the years we painted and did a little backsplash cover-up while planned for the big redo.

kitchen painted cabinets

It was fine to live with but we really hated this big wall that blocked off the kitchen from the rest of the open floor plan (well except for the view through that amazing peekaboo window, of course).

old kitchen walls

So we tore out and moved walls, built new walls, laid new hardwood floors, installed appliances, assembled and installed cabinets, planked and painted the ceiling, had marble counters installed, created floating shelves, installed a marble backsplash, and built custom cabinets.  And lots more.  We took many breaks to do other rooms like our boy’s room, our master closet, and our dining room.  But we finally finished up the kitchen just in time to enjoy the summer.  Notably, that was my goal for last year too – so we’re only a year late, ha!  At least we can capture this summer of fun.

white wood kitchen

white planked ceiling

floating shelf kitchen white dishes

One thing I did after taking these pics is to add a trim piece to the bottom of the upper cabinets.  Game changer, I tell you.  Just that touch really made it feel much more finished (compare above and below pic for the difference).

finished under cabinet trim

Let me tell you, we use every inch of this kitchen on a daily basis.  I mostly blame young kids that never stop wanting to eat.  But I also actually enjoy cooking and baking – mostly because I like to eat, too.

floating shelf cutting boards

kitchen sink dishwasher

We tried to make the space look good but really focused on maximizing the function.  So I’ll share some of our best hidden storage tips soon.  But my favorite for sure is the custom microwave cabinet I built with retractable doors.

microwave hidden cabinet

hidden microwave cabinet

When looking back, it is hard to believe that last year we had a huge wall blocking what is now the island and the biggest gathering spot in our home.

modern white pendants kitchen

galvanized metal kitchen stools tolix

Taking a few feet from the guest room and incorporating that space into the kitchen just made the kitchen so much bigger.  Totally worth it (sorry guests!).

subzero chalkboard fridge

Overall we’ve been really happy with our marble counters (no stains!) and our RTA cabinets.  I get lots of questions about both and we love them!

viking range bluestar vent  hood

viking stove white marble backsplash

But nothing tops the brass hardware.  I was on the fence for so long and am really glad I took a chance on these – I’m a brass convert!

schoolhouse electric brass hardware

So that’s it.  For everyone following along since the beginning (yikes, that was forever ago) thanks for sticking around to see the end result.  For those of you newer folks, I’ll do a follow-up post with a list of all the prior posts that were part of the kitchen remodel soon.  And I still need to share a few more things like how we did our floating shelves and built the custom cabinet.  But then we’re onto a verrryyy long list of other projects around here.  Next up is finishing our window seat built-ins

Questions?  Things I forgot to explain?  Let me know in the comments and I’d be glad to answer!  I need to put together a source list for you too.  Update:  I’ve included the source list here!


Thanks so much for checking in, friends!

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Gallery Wall Tips at Remodelaholic

Hi guys!  Today I’m excited to be sharing some tips for creating a modern, balanced gallery wall over at Remodelaholic for their Deck the Walls week!

Deck the Walls, wall decor ideas at Remodelaholic

It has long been one of my favorite blogs (duh, cause I’m a remodelaholic too) so it is really fun to join in their week of wall goodness.  I’m sharing some new, easy tips for making your gallery wall look all intentional instead of thrown together, even if you get it done in just an hour or two.  Like this, but yours can be even better.  :)

coral gallery wall pillow

Check it out, here!  And be sure to follow along with all the walls they’re sharing for the whole week.  I’ll be tagging #deckthewalls on Instagram, will you??

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Quick Kitchen Update

 Hi guys!  We’ve been powering through finishing up the kitchen remodel and we are *this* close to getting it all done!  While many of you have seen the updates on Instagram, I thought it would be fun to do a quick share here too.  Here’s where we are after lots of weekend work.

kitchen progress

We started with our blank walls and added in our floating shelves.

threaded rods floating shelves

Next we tiled our backsplash.  Marble, marble everywhere, and I’m cool with that.

tiling progress

And we also finished building a custom cabinet in the corner – more details to come on that.  But for now, can I just say how much I love having our toaster and microwave hidden?!

kitchen cabinets

Fingers crossed we finish up soon.  Probably just a few more hours or work and it’ll be done!  I can’t wait to get playing with those open shelves…

floating shelf

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Refinished Coffee Table

You guys!  Thank you so much for all your internet and instagram love for our finished dining room.  I’m so excited to have one room actually finished!  Now we just have the entire rest of our house to finish…someday.  For now I’ll probably be bouncing between finishing our living room and our kitchen, but the first project is in our living room – our refinished coffee table.

coffee table diy

Our living room has been in a state of flux since we laid our new floors, got a new couch, and got a new turquoise rug.  Yes, turquoise.  Or maybe it could be better described as teal or aquamarine.  Not exactly the color I expected upon ordering (gotta hate bad internet photos) but I am still really happy with it.  I consider it a colorful neutral, if there is such a thing.  The only problem with our colorful-yet-neutral rug is that our coffee table was not jiving with it.  Our original coffee table had a fairly dark weathered gray finish.

spring coffee table

I built the coffee table about a year and a half ago to fit our space.  It is a bigger than an average coffee table – perfect for board games, fondue parties, and every day kicking up your feet.  It has held up so well – the faux metal base does not disappoint.

coffee table side view faux metal

The only problem was that once we added the turquoise rug, it made the coffee table look blue.  Blue!  A blue table on a turquoise rug just ins’t my deal.  So I decided to go for a free update by refinishing our existing coffee table with supplies I had on hand. All I used was an orbital sander with several sanding pads, a mix of stains, and sealer. I used the sander to take off most of the old finish. I kept all the gray in the cracks/crevices and on most of the sides. I just liked how it looked that way.

close up gray washed wood coffee table

I’ll admit, the project stalled there for a while. Finally, I ended up finishing the table by using a mix of a light gray and natural wood stains that I applied with a blue shop towel.  Blue shop towels are clearly the world’s best invention. I tested out several mixes on the table itself, just sanding them off after my tests.  Then after staining, I brushed on several coats of a satin polycrylic finish. While I usually like satin, the result was waaay too shiny. So, I sanded the table yet again, taking off most of the satin finish. Somehow what’s left of the finish looks matte but still wards off errant red wine drips with ease. Perfect.

light couch coffee table

So now we’ve got a lighter coffee table that I think I love even more than the original version.

coffee table top view

So that’s it.  A dusty but worth it update for our living room, which is helping this room get on board with the lighter and brighter situation happening in the whole Pierce household.

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