Persona: Four legged, middle-aged, dark haired, male
Problem: Being too short to have a good perspective of a room, he is always in search of a perch, and because the canine housemate steals his food if his bowl is near the floor, he has to jump up and down from the top of a shelf that is too high for comfort.
Design Idea: Upholster the the top of a shelf at a comfortable height for the little guy to hang out and walk around on and allow him to get to his feeding spot more easily, and give him a climbing option in the house.
Supplies: almost entirely things being thrown away, leftover bits and pieces from previous projects, and things I already had sitting around:
- 2 Ikea Trones storage bins
- Pine board pieces: 1″x 8″, 2″x 2″, and 1.5"x 2"
- Old cardboard mailing tube
- Memory foam cut from an old mattress being thrown away
- Left over upholstery fabric pieces
- Staple gun and staples
- Craft glue
- Decorative upholstery tacks (this is the one thing I had to buy)
- Miscellaneous assortment of screws and brackets
Step 1: Mount Storage Bins to the Wall and Make Sure They Are Level.
After gathering all your materials and tools, find a wall that works well for this sort of project and install the storage bins. You can put them further apart if your space allows. Just make sure that your top board is long enough to cover both shelves and the gap between them.
Step 2: Build Top Shelf Piece
Cut 1" x 8" top shelf board to a length that spans and covers both storage bins. I decided to make mine flush on the right side so it doesn't obstruct the hallway, and hang over a few inches on the left so cat can hop up on shelves already mounted to other wall.
Mount an L-bracket to at least one of the back edges of the board for added security/stability. If you want the shelf to hang over on both sides, screw the bracket into the bottom of the shelf board instead.
Cut four lengths of the 1.5"x 2" board at 5" in length and install them so that two sit on each storage bin. This makes the shelf is seated in the recessed tops of the storage bins and elevates it slightly to eliminate interference with the bin opening and closing.
If your screws are too long like mine were and poke through, just cover them with a bit of hot glue.
Step 3: Make Vertical Climbing Piece
Measure circumference and mark halfway point on both sides and both ends, drawing a line down the length of the tube.
Cut tube in half and tape back together lengthwise and trim to desired height to integrate with the first shelf.
Cut a length of 2x2 to the same length as the halved tube and install a couple brackets where it will sit against the bottom of the storage bin. Make sure the brackets stick out past the edge of the cardboard tube so they can be used to secure the vertical piece to one of the storage bins later. The brackets I used were the ones that come with bookshelves and dressers that secure them to the wall to ensure they don't fall over on small kids.
Clamp the 2x2 to the cardboard tube and put several screws through both to secure them together.
Step 4: Cut Foam for Shelf and Climbing Post
Cut the foam in long strips, piece together if needed. Check for fit and trim if needed, then glue the foam to the wood. The gluing step isn't essential, but it makes it easier to get the upholstery fabric in place if the foam padding isn't moving around and trying to escape the whole time.
Step 5: Upholster Shelves
This is probably the most difficult step, and would be easier with a second set of hands if you can convince a friend to help.
The method that worked for me was:
- lay out the fabric face down with the shelf on top of it
- secure one side of fabric to the shelf
- pull fabric snug and secure to other side starting in the middle and working out to the ends
- cut a square out of the corner of the fabric to help finish corners nicely
- secure with decorative upholstery tacks if you like. putting many across the bottom edge would make it look like a more upscale piece of furniture, I just wasn't feeling that fancy.
Step 6: Install Shelf and Climbing Post
Place top shelf an make sure that the storage bin doors open and close ok. If they don't close all the way, adjust the upholstery fabric and/or add some pieces of cardboard under the shelf to raise it up till the bid doors close properly.
Add a bracket to the top of the climbing post and screw it into the wood of both shelves.
Put a screw through the bracket in on the back of the top shelf into the top of the plastic storage bin. The places we are putting screws into the IKEA bins do not interfere with their operation.
Put screws through the brackets sticking out on both sides of the climbing post into the bottom so the storage bin.
Step 7: Enjoy!
he doesn't like to sit still for pictures, but he seems to be a fan of his new spot!