diy floating bookcase for more storage in a narrow hallway

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Hello, hello! Need more storage this time of year (or any other time, for that matter?). Sure ya do! How about something that fits nicely in the hallway that doesn’t take up valuable floor space, like this floating bookcase? It’s crazy simple to build, even if you’re a beginner and haven’t even broken in your drill yet.

diy solid wood floating bookcase in the hallway with green backer

And because it’s so simple, I’ve created free plans for you to build a floating bookshelf of your own. Below you’ll get a sneak peek at how I made it, which includes a little look at how I mounted it to on the wall. But a new YouTube video tutorial will be coming as well that goes more in depth in case you need it!

Check out the video below:

It all started with a blank wall space and a full closet. While I would argue that we have ample storage space in relation to the size of the house, becoming a family of 3 (and a pup) has put a premium on all of the closed-door storage (babies… so much stuff). I was inspired one afternoon to take advantage of this corner that sits between Ellis’s nursery and the guest bathroom. It tended to be a dumping ground of “things-that-don’t-go-there”. So creating this seems to have solved a few problems at once! What I like most about it is that it’s narrow and floats off the ground; so despite its height, it doesn’t seem big and hulking for the tight landing area just off of the stairs. It actually feels like it was always there! And with no feet underneath, it’s easy to keep that corner of the floor clean.

How to Build This Floating Bookcase

To keep costs as low, I used pine boards for the main shelving unit and leftover/scrap pieces of thin plywood to create my bookcase. The shelves help obscure where I attached each piece of the backer so it looks like one solid piece!

The PDF plans are based on the measurements I used in my home. Bear in mind that they are custom to the space. I wanted the bookcase to be in line with the top of the door trim and float just above the baseboards. You may need to adjust your measurements if your trim and baseboards are a different size.


diy floating bookcase for more storage in a narrow hallway

I had my Kreg Jig in storage over the winter (sharing some garage workshop updates soon!). So I chose not to do pocket holes. The benefit of using them would be not seeing the screw holes on the outside. But because the knots and other imperfections in the wood, I don’t find the screw holes noticeable. If you’re a beginner and haven’t yet learned how to use a pocket hole jig, you can still make these simple shelves!

Time needed: 1 day.

Get the cut list for this simple solid wood floating bookcase here.

  1. Cut the lumber (sides, top, bottom, shelves)

    I cut all of the 2x lumber on my miter saw: 2 equal top and bottom pieces, 2 side pieces, and however many shelves in the middle (subtract 3 inches from the top/bottom pieces to account for the thickness of the sides). I find that it’s easier to sand all the pieces before assembly, so do that here.

  2. Cut the backer

    I then used a circular saw to trim down some leftover plywood for the back (I have a new post coming of what that plywood was originally for; I wound up re-using the plywood for 3 different projects so far and due to the colorful pattern, you’ll be able to spot them in future posts).

  3. Assemble the outer frame and add shelves

    I assembled the outer frame first with screws and wood glue and then added each shelf with equal spacing between, screwing them in tightly before moving on to the next. Tip: if it gets tight during assembly and you need a little extra leverage to help nudge it into place, add a clamp to both a fastened shelf and the next one you need to line up, then tighten the clamp until the wood lines up with your mark.

  4. Stain the bookcase and backer

    It was easier to stain the bookcase and backer separately before finishing assembly. Based on a number of decor color predictions for the year, this muted, olive-y green seems to be trending, but I may change it whenever the mood strikes or cover it with some fun wallpaper. It’s easy to customize this one to your liking (or even add paint, but I would recommend filling in the knot holes with wood filler if you’re going to do that). But because it sits at the doorway to the nursery which uses a lot of earth tones, it fits right in and adds a little color to this dreary hallway (that gets VERY little natural light). To prevent stain from getting blotchy, I highly recommend using a pre-stain wood conditioner before staining (beginner’s guide to stain coming soon as part of my DIY 101 series!).

  5. Attach the backer

    Using a brad nailer or pin nailer, attach the backer (or in my case, pieces of the backer) to the back of the shelving unit. If using a pin nailer, I recommend going in at different angles across the edge (it helps “catch” the wood so it doesn’t just shoot right through it into the 2×6 and not attach).

  6. Mount the bookshelves onto the wall

    Using a stud finder, I marked studs on the wall and lifted the bookshelf onto a stack of scrap wood to raise it to a height just above the baseboard. Then, I screwed the left corner in first (above the top shelf so it couldn’t be seen, then several places under the bottom of the shelves and below). In the video, I share a few secret places where the screws are hiding, but note that screwing in at an angle helps to grab the wood of the shelf and pull it tight to the stud behind the drywall. Do not only screw through the backer, as this will not provide any support. Carefully make sure that the bookcase is screwed in as many anchor points as possible and won’t pull down off of the wall. Continue to check for plumb and level as you go, but if your walls are like mine, you may have to use your eye instead of the level and allow for a little bit of a gap (if I had screwed it in perfectly aligned with the corner, the trim of the door frame would have looked way off OR the corner would have had a huge gap, so I had to pick a happy medium between the two).

  7. Decorate and enjoy!

    Because of tiny toddler hands, we’ve had to get a little creative with what can and cannot go on the upper vs lower shelves (for now). In fact, what you don’t see in these pictures is how we stuck an overflow of toilet paper rolls on the bottom two shelves (which my son of course absolutely LOVED and someone seeing my Instagram stories immediately messaged me to wonder why there was toilet paper just scattered in our hallway; toddlerhood!)

Not bad for a simple 2×6 build, right? And if you look the horror show of the before, it’s even more impressive!

BEFORE

upstairs hallway before bookcase was installed

AFTER

diy solid wood floating bookcase in the hallway with green backer

Need the PDF plans? Got you covered! Existing subscribers can get them from the Woodworking Plans Library (where I have lots of other fun free plans!). But if you’re new, you can start here to snag access:

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2 Comments

  1. What an interesting idea. The ledges don’t look very deep though for my books. Would you be able to make them deeper and still be sturdy you think?

    1. I think deeper shelves can also work well, but I would be cautious about not making the bookshelf to wide (both too wide + too deep would make the middle sag eventually). 2x material is still really strong so as long as the shelves aren’t too wide it could do well.