Maximize your storage space by converting a small closet into a pantry with this DIY tutorial
Have a spare closet that isn’t living it’s best life? Or maybe it’s just not serving you in the best way? You can turn it into a functional pantry with these DIY floating corner pantry shelves. Who says a pantry can’t be beautiful too?
When we moved in this hall closet had the same standard wire shelving that you’ll find in most closets. Durable, but not always the most functional or pretty.
About a year after moving in I removed them and installed the IKEA Algot shelving system. Of course, I still didn’t feel like I was making the most of the space so I removed it all and started fresh.
I patched the holes, painted the door Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams, and created this fun hand painted wallpaper.
My overall plan for the floating corner pantry shelves involved some form of wraparound shelving for the upper levels and deeper shelving for the lower part. This tutorial from Sawdust Girl was the most helpful resource I could find. I based my plans around her instructions.
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Floating Corner Pantry Shelves
- 2 x 2 Lumber (I ripped my own on a table saw using 2x scrap that I had in my garage) If you do purchase these, make sure you get the straightest boards possible)
- ¾” Plywood (top of shelf)
- ¼” Plywood (bottom of shelf)
- 1 x 3 pine (shelf face)
- Laser Level / Level
- Stud Finder
- Drill / Impact Driver
- Kreg Jig and Screws
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw
- Kreg Rip Cut (optional)
- Table Saw
- Wood Glue
- Liquid Nails
- Nail Gun
- Nail Set
- Wood Filler
- Orbital and/or Finish Sander
Step 1: Plan your space
For reference, the overall dimensions of my closet space were 47″ wide and 22″deep. The depth on each side of the door was 6″ on the right and 6.5″ on the left.
I used some construction paper cut to the final size of my floating shelves (2.5″) to play with spacing. The above image shows the spacing I ended up using. My two lower shelves are 12.25″ deep but don’t wrap around to the sides. My upper shelves are 8″ deep in the back and 6/6.5″ on the sides.
Step 2: Frame in the Support Cleats
Due to the width of my closet space, I needed strong supports in order to hold anything of significant weight. Basic cleats weren’t going to be sufficient. Using the 2 x 2 scrap, I created the support frameworks.
I located and marked the studs on the wall. Then I attached a 2 x 2 cleat across the back and sides for each shelf. Walls, corners, and closets are rarely square/, even so, make sure that you’re checking for level multiple times throughout this process.
I used more 2 x 2’s to frame in the shelving and filled this in with some shorter cross braces shown here.
All of the framework pieces were screwed into the studs using these 3” screws and then attached to each other with Kreg Jig pocket joinery and wood glue.
Step 3: Cut & Fit Shelves
I used my circular saw and this Kreg Rip Cut attachment to cut ¾” plywood for the tops and ¼” for the bottom. This attachment makes cutting large stock a breeze, and it keeps everything straight and consistent if you’re making multiple cuts of the same size.
Once all of my cuts were made I did a quick dry fit to ensure everything fit as neatly as possible. And also made sure to test the weight limit. ; ) My daughter was so excited to try out her new bunk bed! ha
For the wraparound shelves, I had to cut 3 separate pieces (one for each side and one for the back). You can see the seams in the picture above if you look from the underside. I made them fit as tight as I could and used wood filler to make it look as seamless as possible.
At this point, you could go ahead and give the shelves one coat of primer and one of paint before installing, like I did. Just know they will likely need an additional coat or two after install.
Step 4: Attach the Shelves
I used my nail gun and some adhesive to attach the ¾” plywood pieces to the tops. Clamps will come in handy here to act as a second set of hands and keep everything aligned and flush.
When you’re planning your spacing, be sure you can still get your nail gun in between shelves or build them in by levels. Mine ended up being a really tight squeeze with a lot of awkward angles so be sure to take all of these things into consideration in the planning process.
For the bottom 1/4″ plywood pieces, I used this quick grab adhesive and clamps to work as a second hand until I could get them securely nailed into place.
Once your top and bottom pieces are all nailed in place, you will have a wood “sandwich” of sorts. I planned my material dimensions so that a 1 x 3 piece of pine would cover the front of it perfectly. Remember, nominal lumber dimensions are different from their actual dimensions so a 1 x 3 is actually 2.5” wide.
My floating shelf sandwich math added up to this: 0.75” plywood top shelf + 1.5” 2x wood cleat + 0.25” plywood bottom = 2.50”
I used my nail gun to attach the 1 x 3 pieces of pine right to the front of the “sandwich” and it covered everything up perfectly.
Step 5: Finishing
As I mentioned above, walls are rarely even, and corners are very rarely square in home construction. Especially in a space like a closet. No matter how accurate you try to be with your cuts, you will more than likely still encounter gaps against the walls and other areas that need to be filled.
I used a nail set to tap down any nails that may have been sticking out a little too far and covered them with wood filler.
I also used wood filler to cover any seams where the wood met wood and caulk to fill in any gaps between the floating shelves and walls. Don’t skip these steps. They’ll be the finishing touches that make your project look amazing!
Once the wood filler is dry you can sand it down smooth and apply your final finish.
I use some leftover white enamel trim paint that we had lying around to finish everything off. Be sure to allow your finish to dry and cure for the appropriate amount of time before restocking your shelves.
WHEW! Okay, this may be my longest blog post to date. I have to tell you though, the DIY wallpaper combined and the bright clean lines of these DIY floating corner pantry shelves has given new life to this small hall closet.
Don’t ever underestimate the power of giving the unexpected spaces in your home some love! I smile every time I open this door because it’s just that pretty. Or maybe it’s the bags of chips staring back at me…..HA! I’ll be sure to share all of the organizational details soon! -Jessica