Lately Joe and I have been on a little bit of a decorating kick. While I’m the one who generally initiates most of the projects around the apartment, this time it was Joe who pushed to make the front door hallway more functional. I think it’s part of the OCD neat freak side of his personality, rather than any sort of desire for beauty. First we got this west elm rug in an effort to track in less dirt in from our shoes. Then we got the salvaged wood bench (from etsy) for two practical reasons – for the putting on and off of shoes, and to visually make the whole shoe area look a little neater and fenced in.
These two additions worked out great for a little while. But we constantly found ourselves putting our bags, and mail, and other junk on the bench, rendering it unusable for sitting upon. This drove Joe crazy and he started pushing me to install a shelf and hooks. At first I wanted to keep things simple and just get a floating shelf, but Joe did not trust that it would hold much weight without brackets. So then I dragged my feet for a long time while I looked for brackets I liked. I’m so picky, I just couldn’t find anything that fit the image I had in my head. Finally Joe found out about custommade.com. We had SUCH a positive experience with this site. Basically, you put up your project idea and set your price, then different artisans that are connected with the site can submit proposals to you. You pick the one you like most, and in a few short weeks, you have exactly what you want! We went with a metal worker in Maryland called Moonlight Forge. I have nothing but good things to say about the experience. The brackets we ended up with may not seem like anything special to you, but they are EXACTLY what I wanted and that’s what matters.
Anyway, we went to Home Depot to buy a piece of wood to go with the brackets, and I stained and finished it myself. I bought pine because I was feeling cheap, but I don’t recommend this to anyone else. I’m happy with how it turned out, but Pine takes stain really strangely. It tends to go on too darkly, unevenly, and unpredictably. For example, I used the same stain on the shelf as for the bench (which we bought unfinished) and on our hardwood floors. All three types of wood turned out completely different from each other. But while the floor and bench (which are both hardwood) remained more dark brownish, the pine shelf stained an uneven black black black-ish…greenish?? No biggie though, luckily I like how it looks. But if you want to do something like this for yourself, avoid pine and get some sort of hardwood.
Here are some pics from my process. A while back I posted about finishing an Ikea table using Minwax Polyshades stain and polyurethane in one. I still like this product for quick, cheap projects; but since then, I’ve preferred using stain and sealer separately. I find that it gives you a little more control. Just my personal preference.
Once my shelf and brackets were all ready, we spent quite a bit of time one Saturday installing everything. Since we wanted this shelf to be able to handle substantial weight, we needed to make sure the brackets were firmly sintalled into the studs in the wall. So we found two studs using a handy dandy stud finder, marked their locations, and measured the distance between them.
Then I positioned the brackets onto the shelf, centering them according to the distance between the studs. I also used a flat piece of wood as a guide in positioning them so that they would sit against the wall properly.
As much as I don’t recommend pine, the great thing about it is that it is SO soft, that you don’t even need to pre-drill any holes. You can just screw right in with your wood screws.
Now for the next step, it helps to have two people. Joe held the bracket/shelf combo up to the wall, while I lined everything up properly and used a level to make sure it was level. Then I used a pencil to mark the screw holes on the wall.
Finally we drilled holes, inserted plastic drywall anchors, and screwed in the screws. Similar steps were applied to the hooks, minus the stud finding. One thing we had to be careful about was not drilling into any of the wiring in the fuse box which is on the same wall. It took a bit of strategic positioning to make sure everything was centered, lined up with the studs, but also NOT lined up with the fuse box.
Oh yeah, in case you are wondering where we got the cast iron hooks, I actually bought them from Anthopologie about four years ago and never used them. They are no longer available, but you can find the same ones in brass here, or similar ones in cast iron here!
So here are more pics of the finished update. Nothing dramatic, but I love how it turned out. Unfortunately, I kind of hate our call box and the fact that it was installed crookedly. I also don’t like that the fuse box doors are so ugly, but what can you do. Maybe someday I can find a way to creatively cover them up in a way that is still functional?