A shelf story (AKA: the coolest shelf EVER)

We have lived in our house for 4 and 3/4 years. And I am just now starting to feel like I’ve gotten most of our rooms how I more or less want them (I think I’ll be tweaking everything ‘til the day I die).

Part of that long, drawn out process is because we only had two children when we moved into our pretty much, sort of, kind of, mostly finished 95%  DIYed house (which is code for: it was definitely livable, but there was still a ton to do).

And now we have five, with 40%  of our brood arriving all at once in the form of identical twin girls.

Another part of that is because it’s taken me this long to more fully understand my own design aesthetic. I’ve repainted a lot of rooms, y’all. And, most of the time, it was less that I was sick of the color and more that I finally had to acknowledge that whatever color combo that sounded amazing in my head just wasn’t working on my walls.

Naturally, between the constant bottom-wiping and repainting projects, certain things that I’ve wanted to do something about for forever have taken a backseat to the more necessary aspects of running my household.

Things like this big black hutch that took up way too much space in my breakfast nook.

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Sure, it’s cute, and we got a great deal on it from a furniture store closeout when we got married. Plus, it served its purpose of hiding our messes pretty well (it swallowed up everything from kids’ drawing supplies to tangled up technology to rarely used plates and decorations).

But it was just all wrong for the space, mostly because it was waaaaaay too deep (it encroached about 6 inches upon an already too narrow walkway).

Also, the black was just so…black. I thought about painting it many, many times, but never felt motivated enough to keep it to put the effort into it.

Finally, after a big kick in the pants which I’m leading up to, I posted it on our local swap and shop, and pretty soon I saw the words: “Would you consider a trade…” scrolling across the top of my phone. And I thought, Noooooo, I want to sell the thing, not trade for another piece of randomness. I’m trying to be intentional, here, people!

And then I saw who had the left the comment and what she wanted to trade. It was a friend, and she was offering a mantel, which was quite possibly the only thing that would have tempted me (I’ve been on the hunt for a decorative mantel for years).

So, we swapped and were both happy, happy, happy!

Of course, that left a huge blank spot on the wall, not to mention a very messy breakfast nook table strewn with all the aforementioned junk necessities that had formerly found a home in the big black hutch.

It wasn’t blank for long, though.

Let’s rewind a bit, shall we?

Back in November, on a visit to my crazy-talented friend, Sheila’s, house, I spotted a table she had designed and built using pipes + wood and fell in love with its “industrial chic” vibe. Plus, I’ve always liked the look of this World Market shelf.

So, I told my husband I wanted to make a tall, shallow, open shelving unit out of pipes and boards. We went to Lowe’s and scouted out the pipe (and I got an education in just how stinkin’ expensive that stuff is!), and I jotted it down on my mental “someday” list.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day and the aforementioned kick in the pants. My husband and my brother have a side business they’ve started, and both of them had pulled several literal all-nighters (which spilled into the next day as well) filling orders in the week leading up to and the week of Valentine’s. So, yeah. Shaun was tired, to put it mildly. And I wasn’t expecting too much of V-day.

I certainly wasn’t expecting him to take me out to his workshop that morning and show me my dream “industrial chic” shelf that he had secretly put together in all his “free” time, finished and gorgeous and pretty much exactly how I wanted it (one of the shelves was too tall, but that’s only because I overestimated my measurements when I first described my vision to him months before).

I was giddy!

Shaun fixed the too tall shelf (poor man had to completely disassemble and reassemble the shelf), and I stained the shelves with Early American (the same stain we used on our patio table), and then I loaded my V-day present up with all kinds of prettiness that I had never had a place to display before. 

Ready to see? (I can only imagine how much after such a long intro).

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TADA!

Ain’t she a beaut?

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She measures approximately 13” D X 54” W X 72” H. She is the perfect size for the space (because we were able to custom-design her), and she makes me smile every single time I walk in the room.

Here are just a few of the reasons why.

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Isn’t that silver teapot gorgeous? (Ignore my reflection). It’s sort of a family heirloom, and my mom spent forever polishing off the tarnish, so she could pass it on to me. Until Shaun made my shelf, I didn’t have a good place to display my teapot, but now I get to see her shiny silver face whenever I want.

Oh, and let’s not forget quite possibly my favorite worldly possessions: my khaki rose PiP china. I’ve mentioned before that Shaun has been giving me pieces from the collection over the last year, but some of them were still boxed up because I just didn’t have a place to put them.

Well…

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Now, I do.

 I even decided to stack the boxes that the china came in on top of my new shelf because, seriously, how could I not?

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I love the intense pop of color they add to my other more neutral elements, like my brand new (FAKE!) Ikea plant. (Side note: how in the world did it take so long for this black thumb to get on the fake plant bandwagon??)

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A few other faves are this random, quirky rooster…

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…this little vintage ashtray…

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…this ginormous, chunky pitcher from Lowe’s ($7)…

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…and my $6 “vintage” baskets that I scored at Ross.

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And then are there the pipe fittings which are so pretty they make my heart skip a beat.

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Seriously. Swoon.

Overall, though, I think my absolute favorite thing about this crazy-awesome shelf is how well it marries form and function.

Yes, it’s my kind of beautiful. And the top three shelves give me a place to display my favorite pretty things. But it’s also really practical, thanks to the bottom two shelves of baskets, which I stocked with kids’ craft/drawing supplies as well as picture frames, often-used serving pieces and other random supplies that I need easy access to. I even found a (much better) home for all the random technology  and mismatched dishes that were just taking up space before.

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So, what do you think of my new shelf? If you’re interested, I can do a dedicated post on the details of how to make the shelf + the cost breakdown. Just be sure to let me know in the comments, and I’ll put that together if it looks like the interest is there.

Once you have a vision for a room in your house, do you knock it out right away or slowly chip away at your list? I definitely tend to spread things out, unless I have a specific deadline.

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20 thoughts on “A shelf story (AKA: the coolest shelf EVER)

  1. I love this shelf so much! I am looking around my house right now figuring out where I would put one just like it. My home is in the VERY beginning of decorating so I have NO rooms anywhere close to how I want them. I would love to add something like this shelf at some point so directions would be wonderful! All of your pretty dishes look so great on display.

  2. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your new shelf. It’s very similar to a table I want to make for my entrance way. Question…how is the wood attached to the piping?

    Instructions PLEASE!!!

  3. I wasn’t too sure about it as your were describing it, but then I saw the result and I am blown away! I’d love to hear the instructions

  4. Hey there! Yes oh yes please post the details on how to make one of those shelves. LOVE LOVE LOVE the industrial look. Beautiful, and I must say, I gotta make one…pronto!

  5. YES! Let’s see the details, please! And what happened to the gadgetry/cords, etc.? And the mantel…please reveal! SO enjoy your blog! I’m a homeschooling mama on 5 acres near Austin, would love to meet you in person sometime!

  6. You’ve got to be kidding me! My husband & I just talked about building a shelf just like this. I kid you not. I have the pins to prove it! He built a counter top for our bathroom using the pipe so we know how expensive it is which means, it’s been put on the back burner for a bit but OH MY I do love this! It looks great! And it has a great story to go with it!

  7. First, picture of the mantel, then tutorital ;) We have 3 boys and just moved them all into one room. I had to take two bookshelves out of the room to make, well, room. My idea was to build shelves like these in, so I’d love to see how your hubby did it, thanks! And, I made a sewing table for my mom out of an old door. My first idea was plumbing pipe legs, but after seeing the cost, I went with sawhorses! It’s ridiculously expensive!

  8. I really love how it turned out! So industrial chic ;) . And how cool to have a place to display all your pretties! I don’t need a tutorial as much as I need someone to just build one for me……haha! I’d love something like that in our new master bedroom when our remodel is finished!

  9. I definitely chip away at the list – until I know someone specific is coming over that I need to have the room done for – and then I work my butt off to get it done (and get exhausted during the process but enjoy it SOOOO much after said person leaves!).

    I would LOVE to know how he did the shelf. We have considered making our own just like it, but after looking at the cost of the pipe were wondering what the “hidden” costs were (a.k.a. would it really be as easy to build without any mess ups as we think it would be?). Awesome job Shaun!

  10. Great job! It’s really nice, love it!!! I am totally with you on the form and function point and pretty stuff is always fun too! ;) I would love if you posted a how to on it as well, as my hubby and I love this kind of thing too!

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