Lucy 1, Shelves 0…

DIY Alcove Shelves

Morning!  Hope you’re having a lovely weekend?  I have been sewing, but in dribs and drabs, as I’ve finally manned (womanned?) up and started getting to grips with the house.

We had planned to do the living room first, as it’s the bit most people see…  But I realised there’s no point making anything look smart until we’ve solved our storage problem.  I made a start in the spare room, which has become a bit of a dumping-ground.  The plan is to turn it into an office for Paul/cutting room for me.  I do love a quirky bookcase, but decided on fitting shelves directly into the alcove, meaning I can use the full height of the room.  Space is an issue…

I didn’t take a before photo of the collapsing Billy bookcase we had there before, but I did get some progress shots.

DIY Alcove Shelves

Oh.  Turns out just one progress shot…  Sorry about that!  The tutorial I used is here, and I thoroughly recommend it.  This really is something anyone can do – the only tools you need are a power-drill, saw and screwdriver.  Well, a tape-measure as well, obviously!  I used MDF for the shelf cladding, and pine stripwood for the battens.  I got the MDF cut to width (300mm), but not to length, as the alcove is so uneven.  I got a much better fit by cutting the ends of the shelves myself, as there are all sorts of funny angles going on with the walls.

Tip:  If you’re doing this and your walls are all wibbly, get the battens up first, then find a big piece of cardboard to make a template to work out how you need to cut the shelves.  This was a lifesaver – it’s super-easy to trim the cardboard to exactly the right fit for each individual shelf.  There’s a good 2-3cm difference between the widths at the back and front of this alcove, and it’s much narrower at the top than the bottom.

Tip 2:  Paint the cladding before you put it in place.  Seriously, have you tried to paint shelves once they’re on the wall?  I have in the past…  With these, I just stood them up against the wall and painted them with a roller – it took 30min to do each coat.

I found some dado rail which was about the same height as the shelf fronts, which I think has made all the difference in how they look!

DIY Alcove Shelves

Now they’re completely full, and we still have piles of stuff everywhere…  I’ve started on some for our bedroom now!

All this DIY is cutting into my sewing time quite a bit, but the state of the house was starting to depress me, so it’s got to be done!  I have made a start on this dress,

Vintage shirtdress sewing pattern and Liberty Carline fabric

which is coming together beautifully so far!

Well, that’s my news – you have a wonderful week, and send any DIY tips my way please!  Lord knows I need them…




  1. February 7, 2016 / 10:52 am

    They look gorgeous! I love that you’ve used dado rail for the front of the shelves – it really finishes them off! Glad our tutorial was some help.

    • February 7, 2016 / 1:20 pm

      Thanks! Your post was really great – I’ve been thinking about doing these for a while but wasn’t quite sure of the best way to go about it! The way you broke it down was really helpful, so cheers for that :).

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