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Photo by Megan Leigh Barnard

Deconstructed Storage: DIY Wooden Shelves

The ongoing challenge that I face in my tiny home is that there isn’t a lick of storage. The thing about living well in a small space is that every square inch becomes extremely precious and you need to utilize good storage in order to keep your home organized. As a result, I am always on the lookout for clever and simple projects that will blend seamlessly into the eclectic architecture of my home, while providing for smart ways to display my essentials that don’t take up a big footprint. I whipped up these floating wooden shelves using pieces of a deconstructed shipping crate and simple mounting hardware. When hung in the dead space of a corner, these minimal and rustic shelves create a place to elegantly display my favorite knickknacks and beauty doohickeys without sacrificing precious real estate in my tiny bathroom.

Together with woven baskets and vases, wooden crates are one of the oldest forms of packaging created by man to safely ship goods. These sturdy and often handmade wooden boxes are built to take a beating as they continue to play an essential role in the trade and transportation of goods worldwide.

Whether you choose to pick up a new crate from your local wine shop, or a vintage piece from any of the antique shops around town, these hardy little boxes are easy to find and can be a great source of inexpensive wood for many of your future DIY projects.


  • A wooden shipping crate
  • A pair of 2 1/2 inch corner braces for each shelf (I chose a galvanized finish for their rust resistance since these beauties will be constantly be exposed to a moist environment)
  • Screws
  • Hammer
  • Level
  • Drill and drill bits

Step 1: Deconstruct your Crate

I used the large handled end pieces of the crate to make two floating shelves. Using a hammer and scrap piece of wood, gently pry the boards of the crate loose from the frame, one-by-one. Many older crates may have to be repaired over time, so be sure to remove each nail as you go. The true challenge here is to do all of this without splitting or damaging the wood, so that you to reuse as much of the crate as possible for future projects.

Step 2: Clean Up and Prepare Shelves

Carefully remove any access nails or screws with your hammer or a set of pliers and lightly sand the beat up edges of the crate frame to smooth them out. As always be sure to wear proper protective gear when working with wood.

Step 3: Attach Hardware

Old wood can be surprisingly tough, so be sure to mark and pre-drill the holes where your hardware will attach, particularly if you are using a vintage crate. Using a screwdriver or drill, securely attach a mounting bracket to each side of your shelf that makes contact with the wall, so that they will fit flush into the corner. The size of the mounting brackets that you use often determines how much weight a shelf surface can hold, so be sure to choose your hardware appropriately.

Step 4: Level and Hang

Make sure that your shelf is flush with the corner as you determine where your shelves will hang on the wall. Use a leveler to help you properly mark the location of your hardware on the wall. Once again, pre-drill a hole for each screw that you will need to secure your shelves to the wall. Once your hardware is securely mounted in the corner, you are ready to go!