Adding a focal point to a room can go either of two ways – a painted feature wall in a vibrant colour or a set of shelves to display all the treasures and trinkets you’ve collected over the years. Well, now you can use your DIY skills to get both! Start out with a lick of paint in a bold hue, then follow up with some open timber shelves. You get the splash of colour plus enough display space to make any museum green with envy. The modular design makes it easy to build and install but still looks like a built-in unit that’s been done by the pros.
Gather your supplies
2100 x 900 x 30mm laminated pine panels (7, with some left over for extra shelves)
A Plinth front (2) 1790 x 150mm
B Plinth side (2) 250 x 150mm
C Plinth back (2) 1740 x 150mm
D Plinth block (4) 170 x 150mm E Unit divider (8) 2100 x 145mm
F End panel (4) 2100 x 290mm
G Unit 1 shelf (3) 460 x 290mm
H Unit 2 shelf (3) 870 x 290mm
I Unit 3 shelf (4) 360 x 290mm
J Unit 4 shelf (3) 600 x 290mm
K Unit 5 shelf (4) 340 x 290mm
L Unit 6 shelf (4) 750 x 290mm
M Filler panel (2) 2100 x 40mm
N Filler panel blocks(6) 100 x 30mm
O Shelf blocks (2) 100 x 100mm
P Connecting shelf 1270 x 290mm
Q Crown moulding Various lengths x 100mm
You’ll also need
Sugar soap; wall filler (if required); fine sandpaper; interior low sheen acrylic paint (we used Dulux in Fiji Palm); power saw (with fence attachment); masking tape; drill; 65 and 50mm wood screws; jigsaw; power plane; clamps; combination square; various diameter drill bits; angled brackets; 25mm button head screws; shelf supports; wood filler; water-based clear coating
1. All joints are glued and screwed unless otherwise indicated. Check all components against actual unit as it’s being built before cutting to size.
2. Measurements given are based on a total shelving width of 1850mm (including filler panel) for each side of the door.
3. To add optional shelves (as we did here for each unit), cut them 3mm shorter than the width of unit they’re going into and install shelf supports (see Step 22). Allow for additional materials
Step 1 Wash wall with a sugar soap solution. Use wall filler to patch any minor holes. Let dry, then sand smooth. Undercoat filled areas. Let dry, then apply two coats of desired feature wall colour, allowing to dry after each coat.
Step 2 To cut pieces for plinth to width, use a power saw with the fence attached to cut four 150mm-wide strips from one laminated pine panel.
Step 3 To find length of plinth front (A), measure from the side wall to where the units end near the door (see ‘Before you start’ on page 177) and deduct 40mm (for unit overhang on plinth). Cut 1 plinth front to this length with a 45-degree mitre on 1 end. Use the offcut for the plinth side (B), retaining the 45-degree cut. Glue mitres and join. Use tape to hold the join as glue dries.
Step 4 Butt the plinth back (C) into the plinth side 20mm from the square end of the plinth side. Screw together using 65mm wood screws. Place one plinth block (D) 20mm from the square end of the plinth front and another in the centre along it. Screw through plinth front and plinth back into plinth blocks.
Step 5 To scribe ends of plinth over skirting, place in position on the floor and butt into skirting. Cut a block to the same thickness as the skirting. Place the block on the skirting, against the plinth front. Place a sharp pencil in the corner where they meet. Slowly run block over the contour of the skirting, tracing its profile onto the face of the plinth. Repeat to mark plinth sides. Remove plinth and cut along scribed lines using a jigsaw
Step 6 Place plinth back in position in front of skirting. Make level by packing off floor, if required. To scribe plinth to floor, sit a pencil flat on the floor with the point on the plinth. Run pencil along the floor, marking the face of the plinth. If the gap between floor and plinth is greater than the pencil, cut a block to match the gap and run this along the floor with the pencil.
Step 7 Plane area below the line you just made. You may need to adjust scribe for the skirting. This will ensure the plinth sits level on an uneven floor.
Step 8 Repeat Steps 3–7 to create a second plinth assembly for the other side of the door so it’s level with the first.
Step 9 Use a power saw with the fence attached to cut unit dividers (E) to width out of laminated pine panels.
Step 10 To cut end panel (F), clamp a divider to the laminated pine panels as a guide for the baseplate of your saw, making sure the blade is on your cutting line. Use the same method to cut lengths of pine panel for unit shelves (G to L). Cut unit shelves to length.
Step 11 Assign each end panel and divider to a particular unit and label it clearly. To minimise work, assign the parts with the machined edges from the original laminated panels to units where the edges will be exposed. Sand the cutting marks out of all other exposed edges.
Step 12 Mark out end panels and dividers for fixed unit shelves. Each unit has a shelf at top and bottom. For intermediate shelves, the measurements from the top of the units to the top of intermediate shelves (as per diagram) are as follows: unit 1 – 1795mm; unit 2 – 775mm; unit 3 – 500 and 1575mm; unit 4 – 1035mm; unit 5 – 775mm and 1300mm; unit 6 – 1000mm and 1500mm. Mark top and bottom of each shelf.
Step 13 Using a 5mm bit, drill clearance holes for screws through end panels where the centre of the shelves will be.
Step 14 Take the end panel for unit 1 and put the corresponding shelf in position so face edges are flush. Drill a 3mm pilot hole through the clearance hole into the shelf and screw together using 65mm screws. Repeat for other unit 1 shelves. On other side of unit, place a divider so its edge is flush with the back edges of the shelves. Screw together. Repeat to create units 3, 4 and 6.
Step 15 For units 2 and 5 that have dividers only, make face edges of dividers flush with face edges of shelves and screw together.
Step 16 Place unit 1 in position on plinth. Measure to wall at the top, middle and bottom of unit. Transfer these measurements to the same points on the filler panel (M). Draw a line between them, then plane to this line to scribe filler panel to wall, if required. Screw filler panel blocks (N) to outside of end panel 50mm from the face. Place filler panel against blocks and screw through block into filler panel. Repeat for unit 6.
Step 17 Place unit 1 back in position on plinth. Using a combination square, mark the position of the picture rail, if any, on the end panel, divider and filler panel. Measure the depth of the rail from the wall and transfer this to the timber. Lay the unit down and use a jigsaw to cut out the shape of the picture rail. Repeat for unit 6 and to mark end panel and dividers on units 3 and 4.
Step 18 Place units 1 to 3 together on the floor. Clamp so face edges of the units are flush and there are no gaps where dividers and shelves meet. Screw through the dividers on each unit into the shelves of the adjacent unit. Lift this assembly onto plinth. Repeat for units 4 to 6.
Step 19 Using 50mm wood screws, attach shelf blocks (O) to each end of the connecting shelf so they overhang the ends. Place connecting shelf (P) over the doorway between units 3 and 4. Make face edges flush, then screw down through shelf blocks into the top of units
Step 20 Place crown moulding (Q) on top of units and connecting shelf so it overhangs front edge of unit by 30mm. Screw down through crown moulding into top of units.
Step 21 Place angled bracket on top of the units where it meets the wall. Using 25mm button head screws, attach bracket to the top of the unit. Using 50mm screws, fix bracket to a wall stud.
Step 22 To install optional shelves (as we did), determine the position of the shelf, then mark the underside on the sides of the unit. Using a combination square, draw a line from this point across the sides. Mark at 40 and 250mm along this line. Drill 8mm holes 8mm deep at these points. Place sockets for shelf supports in the holes followed by the shelf support studs. Place shelf on supports.
Step 23 Fill all screw holes using wood filler. Let dry, then sand smooth. Also sand to remove pencil marks. Remove dust, then apply two coats of clear finish following product directions.