Installing Kitchen Shelves

painted white shelves with ceramic ware

Hi friends! After a little backyard break, time to get back to finishing the kitchen! All our big kitchen projects are now done (this is me giving myself a round of applause!). There are just a few small projects left that I wanted to do to personalize our kitchen, and installing kitchen shelves to display all our pretty colored ceramic was one of them.

If you’re new to A Girl’s Guide to Home DIY–Welcome! Check out our previous kitchen projects, like painting your kitchen cabinets, hanging pot racks, installing knife rack and spice racks, and installing a backsplash.

Before this project, the previous owner had installed two brown shelves above the sink that we used for cookbooks and other general storage. This was great, except I couldn’t reach anything on the shelves comfortably because of our corner sink. So, when I started the kitchen renovation, I took the shelves down and searched and searched for a better option.

Of course, I couldn’t find something I loved, so I decided to repurpose the existing shelves. The project was spread out over a few days (only to allow the paint time to dry), but in total time, it took about an hour. And, best part: it cost me a grand total of $0!

pinterst pin

Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no cost to you, I earn a small commission if you click the link and purchase the item. I’ve only linked items I’ve used in the past and would use again (unless otherwise noted). 

Supplies

I didn’t need to buy any supplies for this project. If you need kitchen shelves, I have these Ikea shelves in dark brown. I used some leftover cabinet paint for my kitchen shelves, so they blended well in the kitchen.

If you’re looking for some kitchen shelves (or really just shelves for any room), I love these Ikea Ekby Jarpen shelves that the previous owner installed. The brackets provide support and a little bit of character. They come in 2 sizes and 3 color options. We had the black/brown ones that I painted white (obviously if I was buying them myself, I’d just buy the white ones). They can be cut to whatever size you need, and the brackets hide any cut marks. And, best part–they’re cheap: $18 for the 31″ ones and $28 for the 47″ ones. (Not a sponsored post, but a product I really love!)

Otherwise, these are the painting supplies I used:

Step 1: Take Your Old Kitchen Shelves Down (or Buy Your Shelves)

First things first, if you’re reusing old shelves, take down your old shelves and remove any old hardware in the walls if you’re installing your shelves in new spots. If you’re keeping the same spot, then save the screws and leave the drywall anchors in the wall to reuse.

using to drill to remove brackets

Step 2: Clean Your Old Kitchen Shelves

Just like painting your cabinets, cleaning your shelves before painting them is crucial! It keeps you from putting paint directly onto dirt–which means your fresh paint will just slough off when the shelf is scraped.

I used the same amazing degreaser as I did when painting our kitchen cabinets–Spray Nine cleaner and degreaser. You can see how dirty those shelves were before, and then after cleaning them. I feel like I never know exactly how greasy things in the kitchen can get just by being in the kitchen, but let me assure you, it gets gross real fast. So, make sure you clean every part of the shelves and brackets.

Step 3: Sand and Paint the Kitchen Shelves

Sanding

Once your shelves are clean, take the time to sand them to help the paint stick. I know, I know. Sanding is messy and sucks. But, it really doesn’t–especially, something this small. And, just like cleaning, it makes a huge difference in how well the paint sticks.

Sanding is especially important with these Ikea shelves because they’re made of particleboard, so they’re not going to soak up the paint as well as pure wood would. Scuffing the previous finish with a little sanding will get you a more lasting finish.

dirty shelf

Once you’re done sanding, make sure you clean every nook and cranny of the shelves, so you don’t have any sawdust stuck in your new paint.

wiping dirty shelf

Painting

Then, time to paint! Remember the paper cup tip from painting your cabinet doors?? We’re going to reuse that for these shelves.Place your shelves on 4 paper cups, so they’re elevated from your painting surface. This will let you get all the edges without painting your table, while also letting air circulate around the shelf to help it dry evenly.

shelf elevated on cups

Using your roller, make sure you go over one side and the edges with smooth even strokes. It’ll take maybe 5 minutes to put a coat on. Now, let the paint dry to the touch (I waited 2 hours) before flipping it over and painting the other side. I then let my shelves dry for 24 hours before placing the second coat, but feel free to put the second coat on in 4 hours (I was painting after work a couple afternoons, so I did a coat an afternoon).

I put a total of three coats on the shelves to get them as clean looking as possible.

painted shelves

Then, I would recommend putting a sealant on the shelves if you plan on placing and removing things from the shelves repeatedly. Ours are mainly decorative, and I was impatient, so I skipped this step, but I would definitely recommend it.

Step 4: Reinstall Brackets

Using your drill, reinstall your brackets with the provided screws. (You can use a screwdriver too, but if you have a drill, why not save the time and muscle power).

using drill to install bracket

Step 5: Reinstall the Kitchen Shelves

If you’re using the same holes from where the shelves previously were, then this step is super easy. Simply screw your shelves back in where they were previously and make sure they’re level.

laser level on shelf

If you’re installing new shelves, or installing your revamped shelves in a new place, there’s a few more (easy) steps to follow.

First, decide where you want to hang your shelves. Using a level or your laser level and a pencil, mark where the holes for your brackets need to be.

using laser level
That line’s not level, I know, but I was taking a picture with one hand, so I get a pass 🙂

Then, if you’re lucky like me and get to install the shelves directly into studs, you get to skip all that drywall anchor nonsense and just screw the brackets directly into the studs. Easy peasy.

Installing Drywall Anchors

If you need to use drywall anchors (if you’re installing your shelves into drywall and not studs, you need drywall anchors), not to worry! It’s just an extra step. Install your anchors first.

If you’ve never installed dry wall anchors, they’re easy!

First, using your drill, drill a hole that is just smaller than the size of your anchor (the plastic piece).

Then, gently hammer the anchor all the way into the wall. (If the anchors start to bend, throw them away and start with a fresh one. If they keep bending, your drywall hole may need to be a little larger, so use your drill to make the hole a little larger and try again.)

Install all your anchors before you try to hang the shelf. Once you have all your anchors in, holding the shelf up, screw the screws through each of the brackets, into the drywall anchor. That’s it!

Step 6: Decorate!

ceramic ware on shelf

Your pretty shelf is up and ready for decorations and storage! I love color (despite my very white kitchen), so I wanted to display a lot of our pretty pots and pans. So, I’m technically using my shelves for storage, but really, it’s just an excuse to look at all my pretty things 🙂

ceramic ware on shelf

This was such a quick update for our kitchen, and the best part–it cost me absolutely nothing. Even if you have to buy the shelves, you’re looking at less than $50 for a beautiful new nook or extra storage space for your kitchen. Not too shabby, if you ask me.

ceramic cookware on shelf

Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions in the comments section below!

~Lauren

8 comments

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  1. Garry

    Simple project that made a big difference, great idea matching paint color with cabinets, And I have to get one of those small levels. Home Depot is assume?

  2. Judith Palafoutas

    Hey, Lauren. Can you address what you do if you have old anchors in the wall and they are now exposed by new shelf placement. More than just painting over them!
    Maybe not with this project, but it happens.

    Thanks, love your blog

    • AGirlsGuidetoHomeDIY

      Yes maam! Great question! That’s definitely a frustrating part of taking something off the wall. I used two different methods to take my old drywall anchors out when I removed the old pot racks from my wall to hang new ones.

      1st method: Using a hammer and a screw driver, place your screwdriver head into the drywall anchor. Then, hammer your screwdriver into the drywall anchor. Once it’s good and stuck, you can try two things: try to pull the drywall anchor out of the wall; if it doesn’t come out, then hammer until the drywall anchor falls behind the drywall and you’re left with hole.

      2nd method: if neither of those work, you can use a pair of needle-nose pliers and just yank it out of the wall.

      For either method, you’ll need some spackle to fill in the hole afterwards, just like you would with any nail holes. Once it dries, just give it a little sand with a sanding block to smooth out any imperfections with the rest of the wall. Then, clean the wall with a little soap and water to clean up any dust, and you’re ready to paint your newly fixed wall!

      Hope this helps!

  3. Judith Palafoutas

    Thanks for the solution.
    Patching drywall and imperfections.
    I think this should make a great followup blog post. Hanging pictures/ art.
    Most of us make mistakes with this function. Too many options for hanging stuff on the walls.

    • AGirlsGuidetoHomeDIY

      That’s a great idea! Thank you! I’m going to talk about hanging a wall calendar in my next post, but you’re right—hanging pictures seems like such an easy task, and I manage to mess up 80% of the time if I’m not careful 🙂

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