Monday, April 7, 2014

Make it Better: Tiny Entryway Solution DIY

One of the things I like most about our apartment's layout is the designated entryway. If this entryway space were bigger, it would be a proper foyer, but it's far too small for such a grand description -- it's really more of a pause than anything else.

Tiny or not, the pause is is something I like very much. It gives us a place to stash our wet shoes and yoga mats, and more importantly, it gives a bit more weight to the entrance of the apartment.


However, it looked quite unfinished for a long time, so I wanted to do something to make the space feel purposeful. Since it's so small -- just a little wall, really -- there were many options I liked that wouldn't fit. I would love a classic solution such as a table or a bench with space for boots underneath, but there is only six inches of depth for that, which would make for a very uncomfortable bench, and it's unlikely I'd find a table to fit that space without being in the way. I considered wallpapering the entire space, including the ceiling and doors, in a fun removable wallpaper print. That would define the space well, but wallpaper alone wouldn't add any practicality to the space.

After thinking about it for a while, I decided a shelf was the best way to go. It would create a place for our keys, sunglasses, and other small items. But as I envisioned a shelf, I realized that it was likely to end up looking messy with our small items piled up.

Wanting something clean and bright in the space, I searched for a small storage solution that would hide our messy accessories, and found this option. Still, I wasn't satisfied. $80 was more than I wanted to spend, and when I saw it in person, I wasn't impressed.

The clean front, however, gave me an idea: What if the items could be stored inside instead of on top? In order to avoid visible hardware, I decided to skip the hinged front, and create pockets instead. (I also added some knobs underneath the shelf, and a tutorial on that will be in an upcoming post.) Continue reading for the shelf tutorial...

First of all, don't let the list of supplies or the length of the tutorial fool you: This is a very simple project. The toughest part is hanging it on the wall, so if you've hung things before, it'll be easy.

Also, a note on the measurements: The photograph hanging on this wall is 28" long, which is why I wanted the shelf to be 28" wide. If you would like to make this shelf a different length, only change the length of the three big pieces of wood, and leave everything else the same. That way, all the instructions will still work.

Supplies Needed:
-Wood: 1/2" plywood (Most hardware stores will cut it for you)
     -1 piece at 28" x 5.5"
     -2 pieces at 28" x 6.5"
     -5 pieces at 6" x 5.5"
-Paint & paintbrush
-Finishing nails (I used 1 1/4" nails)
-Screws & anchors: 4
-Awl or drill
-Level (Download a free app if you don't have one)

Step one: Starting with the 28" x 5.5" piece, which will become the bottom, line up one of the 6" x 5.5" pieces with the end of the bottom piece. The edges should be flush, so the 5.5" sides of each piece of wood should be together.

The nails will go through the long (bottom) piece first, then into the small piece, so that when all five small pieces are attached to the bottom piece, they will all be at the same height, jutting out of the long piece.

Use three nails to attach the small piece of wood to the long piece -- one in the center, and one at either end, about 1" from the edge.

Step two: Repeat for the other end of the long piece. We'll do the two end pieces first because once in place, they will make nailing the other small pieces into place easier.

Step three: Add the other three small pieces. One goes in the center of the board, and the other two are centered between the middle of the board and the end pieces. For a 28" length, this is about 7", 14", and 21" across the length. I found it easiest to put a center nail in first for each of the small pieces.

Step fourOnce all five small pieces are in place, add one of the 28" x 6.5" pieces. This will become the front.

Attach the front to the bottom using 10 nails evenly spaced. The end nails should be about 1/2" from the edge.

Step five: As before, use three nails to attach each of the small boards, this time attaching them to the front.

Here's what it will look like at this point. Set this structure aside.
Step sixThe last piece will become the back of the shelf. Using a drill or an awl, make four holes in this piece. The holes should be placed 1" down from one of the long sides, and evenly spaced so that each hole ends up in the center of a pocket. For a shelf measuring 28" long like mine, this means they will be placed at about 3.5", 10", 17", and 24".

Step sevenHold this back piece up to the wall for placement. Make sure it is level.

Step eightUsing an awl or drill, make holes in the wall where the marks are. Note if the holes are hollow or solid, as this will affect the type of anchor needed. (More on anchors here.)

Step nineTime to paint! Sand everything so the paint goes on smoothly. I painted everything inside green. Then I painted the back piece (which has not yet been attached to anything), all of the outside, and the exposed tops of the small pieces white. Let dry before moving on to the next step.

Step tenAttach the back piece to the rest of the shelf, following the same process as in steps four and five.

Step elevenPlace anchors, and screw the shelf into place. For me, attaching the shelf to the wall required help to hold the shelf in place so I could use some arm strength to screw in the screws with a regular screwdriver, but if you're using a drill, you may be able to hold up the shelf and use the drill at the same time.

Although there are a lot of steps, the whole project took under two hours, excluding the time it took to paint and wait for the paint to dry.

I love that this space now looks finished, as opposed to being just a spot to pile things on the floor. It still may not be a foyer, but the pause now has purpose!

Project cost: $20

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