Built-in Kitchen Shelves!

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Introduction: Built-in Kitchen Shelves!

About: I am an American builder and crafter living in Japan.

I spent my winter vacation building these shelves into the wall of my little kitchen. It's a fun project if you're looking to upgrade your kitchen and have a couple days to burn.

Step 1: The Kitchen Wall!

This is my lovely non-load-bearing "interior" kitchen wall. I jigsawed out a peephole to check where in the world my studs are hiding. My stud finder was acting bonkers on me.

**Be extra cautious of wires in the wall!

Step 2: Cutting Out the Wall!

I found you guys! The opposite side of this wall is your everyday drywall. The side you see is plywood. I used a jigsaw, a mini craft saw and all my patience to cut along the studs.

Step 3: Cutting and Attaching the Molding!

I cut a "molding" type pattern in the wall and used the scrap wood from the wall to cut more pieces. The trim is cedar wood I bought for the shelving.

Step 4: Painting Time!

I went with one coat of a black and brown mixture and then lightly sanded it for a distressed look.

Step 5: Making the Back of the Shelve!

I stained some thin grainy plywood for the back of the shelves and then waxed the whole thing with teak.

Step 6: My Wife Is BOSS!

My wife had an idea of what she wanted on each shelf, so I measured accordingly.

Step 7: Finished!

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I'm not a structural engineer, but I do know that wall sheathing (ie sheetrock, OSB, plywood) DOES play a role in the rigidity of a building, whether or not it is a 'load bearing' wall. Walls are designed not only to support loads from above (compression), but also side loads (lateral), and others. Which walls, and/or how much sheathing can be safely removed, I cannot answer. I suspect that removing the sheathing from small areas of some walls would have little or no appreciable effect. Some walls are more important than others in resisting these lateral forces however.

For simplicity, think of a basic 4' x 8' frame ('wall') built of 2x4's. By itself is very weak, if you push on the edge it will easily deform. Now properly nail or screw a sheet of drywall on one side, and the structure is vastly stronger. On both sides stronger yet.

So just don't go pulling the sheathing off your walls to create storage space without fully considering structural consequences.

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Normally I would agree. However, because he added the 'shelves' in between the studs, this easily will replace any lost rigidity from removal of the sheeting. Remember that 2x4 studs deform much more easily when pushing on the wide face, but not so well when pushing on the narrow face. So I seriously doubt that he caused any structural issues in removing the drywall. If anything he may have increased the stability of the wall by the addition of all the cross peices for the shelves!

Thank you for your comment! These are all things that should be considered before taking on a project like this.

Sheathing is the covering on the outside of your house.

With a non-loadbearing wall like this, there are head plates and floor sills attached to the ceiling and floor joists. With the studs, this wall is incredibly strong and can support its own weight. Any added covering of filling on a wall like this is for aesthetics, fire prevention and sound proofing.

This would be a great idea for hallways too as my kitchen doesn't have any wall space.

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That sounds awesome! I hope you do it and make an instructable.

Looks beautiful. Unfortunately, it doesnt work if you have real walls. However, it gave me an idea for shelving over a door.

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Wow, great idea and very well executed. I didn't notice the pattern until you mentioned it and then realised how well it frames the shelves, why it made me look into this project in the first place

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Awesome! I did similar in the kitchen with cabinet doors over the shelf on the area where there is a closet behind and the shelves are wall thickness and on the really deep area that goes over the basement stairs. I left open the area where the microwave fit in and added a switchable outlet. I put open shelves on the area above the stairs going down to the basement. Really made use of that space above the stairs for the kitchen and basement stairway. Great idea of using space!

1 reply

Wow, sounds awesome!! I love the microwave idea! Thank you for sharing!

That it's a load bearing wall will have no bearing (see what I did there?) on a project like this. The plaster or drywall will add little strength to the wall. You will have some extra sound in a room on the opposite side of this wall, but not a lot, as a standard stud wall will transmit a lot of sound through the studs, even when covered in plaster or drywall. To reduce sound transmission significantly, you have to acoustically isolate the drywall from the studs. You can either strip the existing drywall, then attach new drywall with special clips that do that, or add a second layer of drywall using a special adhesive that also isolates acoustically.

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"That it's a load bearing wall will have no bearing" is clever and almost poetry. As long as the studs are left in place, of course is the necessary caveat.

Should the homeowner desire a wider shelf and cut a stud to provide that width, jacks and header will be required.

I like how your shelves turned out, it's a great idea. I wanted to do that in our house in the office/den for all of our books, but we have metal studs that would need to be torn out and then install wood studs in their place. That wasn't something I was willing to do.

1 reply

No need to tear out the metal. You can buy metal stud track and “ cap” the open side. Then, using metal cleats you can attach shelves. Alternately, you can insert wood into the open side of the metal stud.
Cap the metal stud with lattice slats to decorate or go for the industrial look and leave the metal exposed. Google “ metal studs “ to see how to fasten them , etc
Metal studs are easy!!