I am excited to share this how-to with you for a simple shelf with mounted lamp. I wanted a free-floating night stand and was inspired by a design I saw on Pinterest. Given that I tend to use mostly reclaimed wood, adapting the idea to fit the materials I had access to wasn't difficult.
I love the simple profile of it and it is versatile enough that it can be used by a couch, or even in a hallway.
The project was a gift for my partner, who loves reading in bed and I enjoyed the project because there is nothing better than light to accent beautiful pieces of old wood.
With a few simple tools and supplies, you too can build a shelf that works perfectly with the materials and space you have available!
- 70" length reclaimed wood (at least 8" wide): this will give you two pieces with 10" deep shelves and 2' long back pieces
- Cut List:
- 2 - 2' x (width)
- 2 - 10" x (width)
- Cut List:
- Measuring tape
- Saw (a miter saw worked well for me)
- Clamps (not necessary, but helpful when attached shelf to back piece)
Please review all of the following steps before beginning work. There are many aspects of this build that can be modified to fit your needs and desired outcomes, so please improvise wherever you see fit.
Step 1: Select the Wood for Your Shelf and Sconce Light
This is the barn the wood is from. It was used to store hay and my friend thinks the side boards were cut off by previous owners so the cows could eat right out of the building.
I used a couple of beautiful pieces from my friend's old barn (circa 1940, possibly older) from western Wisconsin (thank you, friend!).
I liked the character one already had from being worn down, and wanted that to be the top to one of the pieces. After examining for size and character, I knew I could use the pieces and even where I wanted to make the cuts.
Maybe you have a few old pieces of wood that you've been waiting to use, or you are searching for a suitable piece - in either case, make sure you have boards long and wide enough to work well for this project (see materials list on previous slide). It is nice to have enough of a back piece to mount the size of lamp you have, as well as to have space underneath for what you will rest there (books, flower vase, picture frame, etc).
Step 2: Measure & Cut
The next step is to decide the length of the back piece (what you will mount the sconce to) and your shelf. Decide how your pieces will be oriented (what side is going to be on top and what side do you want against the wall vs facing out).
Once you have your measurements, mark your wood with a pencil.
Double check your measurements before cutting your pieces!
After measuring - and measuring again - make your cuts. I was able to use a miter saw for my cuts, but a circular saw or table saw will also work depending on the width of your boards.
Step 3: Finish the Wood
I used Danish oil to finish my pieces. I didn't want a shine or gloss, instead wanting to preserve the raw wood look and texture of the barnwood. Danish oil worked well to penetrate the wood, providing a water-resistant satin finish.
There are many other options here as well. You could stain your pieces if you are wanting a different color, or apply a varnish for more of a glossy finish.
For my project, a water-resistant finish was important as well as preserving the color and texture of the pieces.
Step 4: Attach the Shelf to the Back Piece
There are a few ways to do this, and much of what way you do it will depend on how much weight you anticipate being on the shelf. I was able to drill pilot holes and 1 3/4" wood screws directly from behind the back piece and into the shelf. I did three evenly spaced along the width of the boards.
You could also use a Kreg jig and put pocket screws in.
If you anticipate supporting more weight, additional "L" brackets would be good for reinforcement, and these can be attached on the outside and underside of the boards to remain unseen. Wood glue at the seam is also a good idea for increased weight support.
This step is where either an extra person to help hold, or a clamp, would come in handy when first creating your pilot holes.
Step 5: Mount the Sconce
I knew for this project that I was not interested in hard-wiring anything. Over the years I have come to know that large hardware store chains don't have the best selection of plug-in wall sconces. There is usually only one or two options to choose from and they are fairly expensive for their cheap builds. I found the sconce light for my project from Ikea, and only had to hack the style a little bit to fit my project. Ikea has a pretty good selection of plug-in sconce lights with a mid-range price point of $14.99.
As you can see in the picture of the Ikea lamp, the cord runs out the bottom of the base and down the wall. I wanted to run the cord behind the base through the wood and then down, so it would not be visible. This required undoing the wires, running the cord back up through the base and then through a hole I drilled in the wood behind where I was mounting it.
The mounting plate was then screwed onto the back piece, and the light attached easily with a screwdriver and two small screws.
Step 6: Mount to Wall
I used basic picture hanger hardware to mount my shelf to the wall. For additional side-to-side support I screwed the back piece directly into the wall from under the shelf (so as to not be visible).
Step 7: Enjoy Your Shelf
This build works incredibly well for me as a free-floating nightstand. The fact that it hangs instead of takes up floor space helps me minimize clutter, and yet it is enough space for a few key items. The light not only provides great reading light that I can reach from bed, but also accents the beautiful old pieces of wood.