Open For Business: Hanging Our Homemade Kitchen Shelves

Let’s see… when we last left off on Monday, our open shelves had been primed in preparation for their big hanging debut.

While we had the primer out we went ahead and slapped a coat on the hood cover too (using a 2″ angled brush in the cracks followed by a small foam roller to smooth everything out). Things were instantly looking less wood-sy on that wall.

Once the primer dried on both – we used Zinsser Smart Prime which is low-VOC and was recommended by a few pro cabinet painters that we know – out came the same high-durability paint that we used on our cabinets (yes, there’s still plenty left!) and we gave the brackets, shelves, and the hood a couple of coats. Two thin and even ones over one coat of primer did the trick. We also applied those with a 2″ angled brush followed by a small foam roller to keep things smooth and even. Oh and the paint is Benjamin Moore Advance paint in Cloud Cover, bee-tee-dubs (which many pros use to paint the inside of their clients’ cabinets along with the outside, so it should stand up really well to everyday use once it’s nice an cured up).

But the exciting stuff really started to happen when we finally got to the point of ACTUALLY PUTTING STUFF ON THE WALL. Yowza. Sorry for the caps. I said we were excited, right? Excited might be an understatement actually. Luckily, since we had already drilled all of our screws into the wall, the hanging step was pretty easy. Up went the brackets on the short side…

…followed moments later by the shelves themselves. Can I get an “Ooooh”? How about and “Ahhhhh”?

Don’t worry, we weren’t gonna just let them sit there unsecured. We just had some other things to do first – like making sure everything was still level. It was. Phew.

So then we put everything up on the long side of the wall.

We had mentioned in the previous post that we had originally planned to screw the shelves into the wall (we even made some pocket holes in preparation for this step). Well, after feeling how solid the brackets felt (more on that here) and not really wanting to put 12 more cringe-inducing holes in our tile – we opted to just use those pocket holes as a spot to screw the shelves firmly into the brackets (so the screw actually went straight down, not at the angle of the pocket hole). In hindsight, we definitely could’ve skipped the pocket hole step, but at least now the screw will be hidden in a spot that we can easily caulk over.

Speaking of caulk, that was our next step after everything was drilled together. Since there were some dark seams where the shelves met the brackets, we just ran a thin bead of white paintable caulk along the top of each bracket and smoothed it with our finger to make the shelves and brackets look more like one unit. Tedious? A smidge. Worth it? Totally. Then of course we painted over it so everything matched.

And with that folks, we were done! Except for more waiting. Booooo.

As eager as we are to immediately fill them with plates and bowls and cups, we resisted that urge in order to let all of the paint cure a little bit longer – just because we caulked those screw holes and around the edges which called for some touch up paint. We definitely don’t want to jump the “fully cured” gun (which could result in a bunch of dents and dings in our shelves during their first few days of use). So for now we’ll just have to enjoy these empty “after” shots thanks to following the full curing time on the paint can’s directions. But tomorrow – oh baby, it’s on. Sherry’s even planning to shoot a little time lapse video of the process of loading them up.

Oh and of course we still have to add crown molding to the ceiling to finish things off and make the top of the hood a lot more seamless. But slowly it’s all feeling a lot closer to “done” than “just started” – especially now that the hood is painted too (never mind the fact that we still have some patch work to do on the ceiling along with that aforementioned crown molding).

We’re really happy with how the brackets turned out, so we haven’t thought twice about our decision not to do true floating shelves. We think these are really charming – and they’re super stable so Sherry could probably hang off of them if she wanted. Instead she wants to fill them with ceramic animals. Same difference.

It’s nice that there’s still plenty of room to load them up and make them really functional, even with the brackets (no, they will not actually end up full of ceramic animals- not on my watch). Our shelves are deep enough for our 12″ dinner plates and the brackets are 15″ apart so we should have lots o’ room to put everyday stuff up there – which we hear from other open-shelf-having folks works really well, since it’s used often enough not to get dusty).

And even though it was a bit weird at first to see our wall of penny tile suddenly broken up by these bright white lines, it’s cool to see the thing we’ve always envisioned come that much closer to being a reality.

So we should have pics (and a video) of the shelves all filled for you tomorrow. Until then, we’ll leave you with this slightly-closer-to-after shot of the room. We’re definitely getting there. And we’re counting down the seconds to Operation Cork My Floor (along with adding that crown molding, patching the ceiling, adding a pendant over the sink, covering the base of the peninsula with some decorative wood planks, hanging some art to the right of the fridge, do something to the side of the pantry, etc).

We feel especially giddy when we look at old photos of the room back when it looked like this:

We can hardly picture that old room anymore. Isn’t it funny how quickly your brain replaces things? It’s so crazy that we lived with the room just like that for over six months before even painting the paneling. But once we finally got the ball rolling… well, it’s still rolling. Haha. Is anyone else in the home stretch of one of their home projects? Though I probably should knock on wood when I say that, since it sounds like a sure way to jinx myself into some last-minute wrench in the plan (he says as he gets up to literally go knock on wood while crossing his fingers and eyes).


  1. Tamisha says

    Wow, looks fantastic! You guys have done a great job.

    Did I spy a beige-y mushroom color on the back of the bookshelves in the dining room????

  2. Dana says

    John you’re hilarious! Love this line…

    We think these are really charming – and they’re super stable so Sherry could probably hang off of them if she wanted. Instead she wants to fill them with ceramic animals. Same difference.

    I’m still laughing!

  3. says

    Ou, I can’t wait to see them with stuff on them!! Just curious, did you put 4 brackets on each shelf on the left for extra support or for added prettiness? :)

  4. says

    I really, really wanted to love them but sadly I can’t say that I do. I think floating shelves would have looked cleaner – the brackets (which I love and am considering for a single shelf in my own home) seem like too much when there are so many together, especially in the picture with things on the counter top below the shelves. I’m hoping my mind will change once you fill them with gorgeous dishes/accessories since fun dishes always makes everything prettier.

    • says

      Aw no worries Heather! It’s definitely going to be a game changer when they’re all loaded up and with the cork floors it’ll change again! We definitely know that things like this are personal preference, so after holding up fewer brackets (three on the left side) we opted for four since it looked best to us! Definitely one of those personal calls though!


    • Nikki says

      I agree, unfortunately. But please don’t take it the wrong way — I really do love your blog and many of the things you’ve done to your home.

      It’s just for some reason, the shelves and brackets take away from the cool floating effect of your beautiful range hood and seem to cover up so much of the lovely penny tile. I’m definitely hoping it will all work out well once the shelves are filled.

  5. Caitie says

    It looks absolutely stunning!!!! I am in loveeee with the shelves!!! Great job guys! You never cease to amaze me! :)

  6. Ted says

    Oooh, shiny! White cabinets are not my style, but you’ve done a fantastic job with yours.

    Here’s an odd request. In the past, you’ve mentioned that the window over the sink would be more balanced once you had the open shelves put up. Can you take a straight-on shot of the wall behind the sink from near the fridge so that we can see how that wall balances out? The angled photo in the middle gives an idea, but the perspective angle masks how balanced it turned out.

    Great job, guys!

  7. Meghan says

    LOOKS GREAT! I have a request….can we get one picture of the point of view facing the window over the sink?? I think you had ALL of us just waiting on the edge of our seat to see the evened out spacing between the shelving on one side at the cabinet on the other! Can’t believe it’s the same kitchen!!

  8. Stephanie says

    I LOVE THE SHELVES, guys! Can’t wait to see them all loaded up with Sherry’s pretties.

    And, I don’t mean to rain on your parade at all because I think your kitchen is divine and I LOOOOOVE it, but something about the hood box thing-a-ma-jig looks wonky to me. I don’t know if it’s just because it’s far away and I can’t see the lines and design in it… It just kinda looks blah and washed out. I don’t know. I’m reserving judgment until I see the final product. I always love the end result with you guys, and I TOTALLY know that nothing is ever “done.” So… I guess, ignore my comment. Except the “I love the shelves” part.

  9. Sue says

    Hi! Things are looking great! Just curious … was it necessary to use four brackets on the longer shelves for extra support?

    • says

      We wanted to put the brackets into as many studs as possible, so by putting 4 brackets in we were able to get the extra support of the two studs in the middle of that wall.


  10. says

    Looks BEAUTIFUL!

    Would you ever paint the molding on the beautifully hand crafted oven hood? Maybe it looks different in real life but in photos you can’t really tell that there is molding on the hood. Maybe a beautiful silver/grey to match the tile? Or a fun pop of color?! You can always paint it back to white if you don’t like it! :)

    Just a suggestions, feel free to ignore!

  11. says

    Hi! We live in a 156+ year old , 1,100 square foot row home in Philadelphia, which means one thing: basement kitchen (blech). Thanks to an extremely scratched plexiglass skylight awkwardly angled up to our “yard” (a 15′ x 5′ area boxed in and completely concrete), we have a little natural light but it’s generally just so dark down there! Thinking our darker wood cabinets aren’t helping any either, would love to paint them white to see if it helps. Was hoping to get your tutelage on this, but can’t find the original post on priming/painting the cabinets – can you point us in the right direction? Thanks!

  12. says

    What. A. Difference! Ohmygoodness! Seriously though, the open shelving really brought things together and I cannot wait to see the cork floors and crown molding installed.

    Where do you think Sir Aubergine will end up?

  13. says

    Ahhhh….so bright and cheery! I would never have thought of open shelving, but you’ve sold me. It’s beautiful!
    I can’t wait for operation cork to see if you love yours as much as I love mine!

  14. Erica says

    I was very nervous for you when you were drilling into your pretty penny tile (like, scary movie, “Don’t go down in the basement!” nervous), so it’s incredibly relieving to see those shelves all straight and perfect. They look fabulous and I think breaking up the penny tile makes it even more beautiful. Can’t wait to see them full of stuff.

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