Easy Faux DIY Floating Shelves ( $5 in 15 minutes)

Last month we gave our living room wall a brand new look. One of our favorite features are these faux DIY floating shelves. They are super simple to build, and provide the perfect spots for us to decorate the living room wall with pictures, plants, vases, and other favorite things!

These wall shelves we built look like floating shelves, however, they are much easier to build, and cost only about $5 each! They are called faux floating shelves because any brackets supporting real floating shelves must be hidden within the shelves.

These DIY wall shelves ( I will refer to them as floating shelves in this tutorial) are sturdy and quite versatile. We love them! You can check out what a difference  they made in our living room in this before after project.

Transform a TV wall into a beautiful and seasonal picture wall in 5 easy steps. Detailed planning guide with lots of great gallery wall design and DIY tips! A Piece of Rainbow

Ready for the secret of these faux floating shelves?

All you need to build the faux floating shelves are a few simple tools and materials:

( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )

  • 2×8 wood (actual dimension is 1.5″x7.5″ ) – We used 2 pieces of 2×8 leftovers at 22″ long and 30″ long, which are just what we need.
  • 5″x3″ L-shaped angle shelf brackets like these ones: our secret ingredients for this project! 🙂
  • A drill. The brackets come with screws and drywall anchors. However, you might need a few extra 1.5″ to 2″ screws if you are drilling into studs instead of drywall.
  • finishes: paint, or a natural wood finishing wax like this

IMPORTANT: a little woodworking basics before we start:

Always Drill Pilot Holes Before Screwing Into Wood

Here’s why: driving screws into wood without drilling pilot holes, will cause the wood to split and crack ( especially on good quality hardwoods like maple, walnut, etc), which means a much weaker connection.

A screw has a center cylinder going down the middle of the screw and threads wrapping around that cylinder. When drilling pilot holes, the pilot hole drill bit should be the same diameter or slightly smaller than the center cylinder.

Step 1: Paint or stain the wood.

Skip this step if you want to leave the wood as is.

I painted the wood a solid white. If you like a more rustic farmhouse style whitewashed look, here’s a tutorial on how to white wash wood in 3 simple ways.

Ultimate guide + video tutorials on how to whitewash wood & create beautiful whitewashed floors, walls and furniture using pine, pallet or reclaimed wood. | apieceofrainbow.com

How to whitewash wood in 3 simple ways.

Step 2: Attach brackets to wood shelves.

The 5″x3″ L-shaped angle shelf brackets  come with screws.In most cases these brackets are installed in a way that the entire “L” is visible on the bottom of the piece it’s supporting. We will be reversing it here so we create a minimal profile.

Place the brackets a few inches from each end of the floating shelf, mark the locations of the screw holes. Drill pilot holes and screw the brackets to the wood. Use at least two screws on the bottom and one one the side as shown below.

Paint the brackets and screws the same color as the shelf, so they almost disappear.

Step 3: Install the faux floating shelves

Hold the shelf level, and mark the locations of openings on the brackets, drill pilot holes for the drywall anchors or the longer screws if it’s going into a stud.

Screw the brackets and shelf onto the wall. Because there are only tiny bits of brackets showing, it’s very each to hide them with things on the shelf.

Now the fun part: display your favorite things on the faux floating shelf! Plants, art, photos, vases filled with flowers, vintage books, pottery, driftwood from the beach, so many pretty things… we may need more floating shelves! 🙂

I love mixing up photos with vintage books, art, plants, and other cute objects. A floating shelf like makes it super easy and fun to change decor through the seasons.

If you are wondering what all our indoor plants are, here’s a guide on the best kill-proof indoor plants we love! They are not only beautiful but also able to clean indoor air, according to studies by NASA!

Additional tips on wood finishes

If you want to use wood stain instead of paint, check out this detailed tutorial on how to make easy and long-lasting DIY wood stains.

7 recipes to make wood stains in any color using natural household materials! These quick and easy wood stains are super effective, long lasting, low cost, and non-toxic!

If you left the wood natural or applied a stain, it’s a good idea to add wax or oil finishes to protect the wood from water or other stains.

You can apply a natural wax to the wood at the end. Try this fabulous 2-ingredient home-made natural furniture wax recipe here. You can also purchase the wax here.

Home-made natural furniture wax recipe

Love floating shelves? Here are 16 great DIY tutorials for you on how to build different wall shelves!

16 easy tutorials on building beautiful floating shelves and wall shelves for your home! Check out all the gorgeous brackets, supports, finishes and design inspirations! - A Piece Of Rainbow

Happy creating! See you next week!

18 Comments

  1. Great work! Floating shelves are a great place to store and show off your things. I got some wonderful ideas from your article. Thanks for sharing.

  2. You make this all look so easy. I wish I was not afraid of the power drill. I actually love the whitewash wall. I have a great idea now to update my living room!

  3. This is epic. I especially love the idea of floating shelving! I’m moving into a studio soon and expect to be putting up a lot of these types of shelves. I was thinking of hiring a handyman to do it, but now I think I can do it myself.

  4. I have been wanting to do floating shelves for what feels like the longest time! I love that white washed look too! Its rustic but still looks so clean! Thanks for sharing the tips on wood staining too! I always feel lost when it comes to that!

  5. I love these shelves! We have a few that are done in a similar way in multiple rooms in our house. They look so nice and help give more organization, especially in the kids playroom!

  6. I am so grateful for any DIY tutorial. I have been doing so good lately by what I have learned from all the posts. This one is nice and I will try it as well.

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