A Cheap & Easy Shelf For That Blank Spot Over The TV

Ding dong, the bare spot above the TV is dead.

Remember how it used to look like this for a few years?

And then we graduated to a bigger tv and kept an eye out for the right media cabinet for another year or so.

And then we finally got here with the help of a $59 cabinet that we found at a thrift store…

Whew. So glad it’s NNM (nekkid no more). Don’t mind that power strip on the ground, I’ve since shoved it behind the media cabinet to hide it.

Dang it feels good to be a gangsta have a shelf there.

We actually debated a bunch of options for above the TV (hanging frames/art, something 3D in the “wall decor” category, hanging a ready-made shelf, making one of our own so we could pick the length, depth, and the brackets, etc). The last idea won out thanks to keeping an eye out for anything in any of those categories for the last few years, not finding anything that worked/we loved, and finally taking matters into our own hands and making something that fit the wall perfectly.

The good news? It only took us a few hours and around $20.

As for how we made it, we picked up a 10″ wide poplar board from Home Depot and just cut it to length and supported it with some store-bought brackets, also from Home Depot. Oh and the overall finished shelf length is 56″ since the media cabinet under it is 60″ (we thought that was a nice compatible length).

When it came to the color of the shelf and the brackets, we primed and painted them both white (the brackets were originally silver), just because we didn’t want the shelf to be bold/contrasty (we wanted it to layer into the room like the white frames over the sofa, the white mirror over the desk, etc).

We also decided that putting the brackets on the top of the shelf instead of under it would keep everything on the same plane – instead of having potentially distracting brackets poking out from the bottom of the shelf and encroaching on the TV. It’s totally one of those to-each-his-own things, but we like the brackets up top in here since we have brackets under the shelves in the kitchen (Ikea sells some shelves with brackets on top, so it’s apparently a pretty common thing).

We just didn’t want the shelf itself stealing any attention from any zombies, white walkers, or dignified Brits that we might be watching on the TV below it (feel free to guess what three shows we just referenced). #nerdsforlife

Then we just used heavy duty anchors that were guaranteed to support a lot more weight than we’d ever put on that shelf to secure each of the brackets. We also added some extra strength adhesive to the bracket bases before screwing them into the face of the shelf for added insurance. Many people screw and glue things from above and it holds nice and firmly, so it’s not necessary for the brackets to be under the shelf in order to support it. Let’s just say that at least three Clara’s could theoretically hang on it…

Oh man. Could you lick these flowers, or is that just me? They’re called rhinocerus ranunculus.

I can’t tell you how much better it is to sit on the sofa without having weird “ugh, this wall has been blank for years! Dude GET ON THAT!” thoughts.

Now I can just sit with my feet up and dust my shoulders off, Jay-Z style.

As for what’s living it up on our new shelf, I leaned a few frames that we already had up there (and even used poster putty on the base of them to keep them nice and secure). Inside of them we have:

  • a “squeeze the day” page from an old Boden catalog that I’ve always loved
  • a blue botanical print from Ikea a while back
  • a polaroid of John and I at one of our book signings (we realized we didn’t really commemorate those in any way – and I even used some Clara art to make a cheerful yellow mat behind it)

Of course there are also those pretty fresh flowers that’ll die in a week or two and then I’ll find myself sitting on the couch thinking “ugh, those flowers are dead. Dude GET ON THAT!” – but the good news is that I’m now the proud owner of pretty West Elm paper flowers (more on that here) so those’ll hopefully pick up where the real ones left off.

And then I’ll just get to sit on the sofa and concentrate on the zombies. As it should be.

Oh but before I go, blam:

Can you believe that’s how this wall of the living room looked on the day that we moved in?

Now it’s all “look at me now.”

And speaking of look at me now, if $herdog could rap like Karmin I’d just walk around dropping mics. Seriously, there would be at least ten mic drops a day.

Which might take up a fair amount of time, so maybe it’s for the best that I’m a terrible rapper. Leaves me more time for DIY.

What do you guys have over your TV? A mirror? A plant? A zombie action figure (you know, to complement the real ones on TV)?


  1. says

    This looks beautiful. I love that you can switch out things there whenever you wanted. Right now everything there looks so bright and springy. Also, I like how the brackets are on this shelf. Nice work!

  2. Jenny says

    Wow, So simple and yet what a big difference. I love your clean, fresh style. I was wondering, what is the height of your ceilings? I am wondering if this sort of thing would work for my space above our tv,but I think our tv cabinet is taller and that would make our shelf too high. Is yours eye level for John or higher than that?

  3. Dina says

    We have a shelf over our TV!! It holds a few frames and a few sesonal things that we can change out easily.
    We love it; hope you do, too!

  4. Lisa says

    Looks wonderful! Love the ranunculus. I just planted 4 ranunculus in my backyard yesterday and got a few fake ones for a vase in my bathroom. My new catch phrase is ranunculus is radonkulous!! #alsonerdforlife

    • Plein Jane says

      Lisa has the right spelling of the flower — ranunculus, without the “o.” It’s my absolute favorite, but it has such a short growing season! A clerk at Whole Foods once compared the petals to the feathers on a chicken’s neck, and it’s true! I love all the layers. We have some fuscia and white ones in our dining room right now, and I always stop to pet them on my way through.

  5. Meghan says

    you guys never fail to inspire me! i love how simple and affordable this shelf is….i know what i’m doing this weekend!
    p.s. love your curator’s collection on joss & main :)

  6. Karen T says

    It’s nekkid behind our TV! It’s actually in the corner of the room, and I can’t figure out what to put behind it. It’s been driving me bonkers. Any ideas?

  7. Renee says

    This one’s “not my jam.” It looks like a shelf hung upside down with hardware exposed. A floating shelf wouldn’t have worked?

    • says

      Oh yeah, I’m sure 100 people would shelf up their walls in 100 different ways, so it’s all personal preference. We actually prefrered the idea of upper brackets over a floating shelf, just for a little less of a super-mod look, so we went that route :)


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