I’m decorating my apartment, DIY-style! I’ll be sharing all my DIY projects in a series of Apartment Makeover posts. Click here to check them all out!
My bedroom is tiny, so one of the ways I maximized the space was by getting a bed with drawers under it (I have this one in Polar White, from Gothic Cabinet Craft), which has worked out very well. But because of the drawers, and also because of the minimal space, I couldn’t do standard night stands next to the bed (the drawers under the bed wouldn’t have been able to open with nightstands blocking them). So, I started to think about options for floating night stands and lamps.
As these things tend to go, it didn’t take me long to realize I couldn’t find any floating tables I liked in the stores. I needed them to be a very specific size, and I wanted them to be cube-like so there would be a little shelf underneath as well as a top surface. I knew such a thing would be easy to build, at least in theory–but the problem is I have no workshop for building things from wood, not to mention any proper wood-working tools. Or, um, skills.
But I didn’t let that stop me! I decided to give it a go anyway, and it turns out it was super, super easy to build my little floating night stands, using just a few basic tools that I already owned. Now, these tables aren’t fancy or anything, but they do the job and they’re easy to DIY, even for the newbies among us. Here’s how I did it!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
-wood; see below for details
-1″ L-brackets (two per shelf)
-small finishing nails
-hardware to mount the shelves on your type of wall
To start, you’ll need four pieces of wood like this for each table. I used 1/2″ pine, which my dad cut for me to my measurements and sent to me in the mail–but you could easily have these pieces cut at any local hardware store or lumber yard. Just call them up and ask if they cut wood–most do for a small fee.
As for the measurements of these pieces, the top and bottom pieces are just the finished length and depth you want for your tables. The side pieces are the finished depth by your desired finished height, minus the thickness of the top and bottom piece of wood. (So if you want a finished height of 6″ and your wood is 1/2″ thick, you need to cut your side pieces 5″ tall. Got it?)
Next, attach two 1″ L-brackets to the long edge of the top piece of wood. Remember to use screws that are shorter than the thickness of your wood so that the screws don’t go all the way through the wood. (I did that once on a project, it was the saddest thing ever.) Attach the brackets so that they are flush with the edge of the wood.
Place the remaining piece of wood (the bottom piece) on top of the two side pieces, also attaching it with wood glue. Now at this point, since the glue isn’t dry, everything will be balanced a bit precariously. Real wood workers would do all of this with a much better process, probably using clamps and whatnot, but since we are improvising here, just balance and go with it. It will all work out in the end, I promise.
Place a few heavy books on top of the whole thing and allow it to dry overnight. (Again, slightly tricky to balance all this, but not really that hard, and once it’s balanced, just leave it be and walk away!)
Next up, give everything a good sanding, being sure to knock off any rough spots where the wood was cut. Then, it’s time to paint. I didn’t get any painting process shots, but all I did was coat the shelves with primer then two coats of latex paint (white semi-gloss), sanding lightly between coats. That’s it!
Once painted, you could leave the shelves as they are, or jazz them up in a million ways. (I think decoupage could be perfect here.) I decided to finish mine with upholstery nails on the front-facing edges of the wood. (I got my nails here.)
There are tools out there in the world that allow you to neatly install upholstery nails at regular intervals, but I do not have these tools and didn’t want to buy them for such a small project. Instead, I used a clear quilter’s ruler to mark the wood at regular intervals, then I hammered the nails in place at the marked spots. It’s hard to get a grip on these small nails without smashing your fingers with the hammer, so I held each nail in place with my trusty needle-nose pliers (seriously, I use these pliers for everything) while I hammered. No smashed fingers FTW!
Finally, I hung the shelves from the attached L-brackets, using plastic wall anchors (and situating the shelves so that the brackets are on the underside of the top edge of the shelf, where they are essentially hidden from view unless you look really hard while sitting on the floor). All in all, the shelves are perfectly sturdy and are doing a fine job of holding my bedside stuff.
Next up, I installed my lamps–mine are the Minut wall lamps from good old Ikea. Ideally I would have liked to use hardwired-lamps, with the wiring installed inside the wall, but that was definitely more than I wanted to tackle in my rental apartment. So I went with these, but then the resulting problem was the unsightly white wires hanging from the lamps. Unsightly!
Luckily there is a fix for such horrors! At the hardware store you can get this wire-hiding-thing. I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but it’s the greatest invention ever–it’s a plastic strip that’s hollow on the inside, with a slit along one side and a flat back with an adhesive strip. It’s easy to cut, so you just cut it to the length you need, slide your wire inside, peel off the backing and stick it to the wall like a sticker. Like a sticker, people! Best thing ever.
Here it is all stuck in place. Of course it’s still glaringly bright white, but the good news is its surface is paintable, so you can paint it to match your wall color. I went ahead and painted it with some leftover paint from my wall, and that was that! The final result isn’t a completely hidden wire, but at least it’s neat and tidy.
Here’s the before-and-after shots, first with hideous white wires flopping all over the place, then neatly nestled inside their nice little homes. I don’t know why, but I find this extremely satisfying. I think hiding wires might be my new favorite hobby.
And there it is, the final product in all its glory! A space for my bedside essentials, a nice little reading light, no hideous wires, and nothing touching the floor. I love my little floating set-up. I think it turned out not too bad at all for a no-special-tools hackjob!