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DIY Pipe Shelves

Disclaimer: this is not a post on how to install iron pipe shelving. This is a post on how to punt a project you’re really excited to have completed. But, the video I link to is an excellent resource for those of you who don’t plan on punting.

I started decorating our house (in my head) back in June when we first toured it. After being on the road for six weeks following our closing, we’re finally starting to get settled in enough to work on projects that I’ve been planning for almost 6 months now. The challenge with getting rooms decorated is that I want to paint all the walls, so it’s multiple steps before we even get to the point of hanging things on the wall. My mom and stepdad visited last week and helped us make serious inroads into getting the painting done. 

One of the first decorating ideas I had for our new house was a wall installation on the back wall of our loft area. The wall is visible from yard and living room, so I wanted something interesting up there. ShelfWall1I’d been seeing pipe shelving in restaurants and stores and took a screenshot of Joanna Gaines’ Instagram last spring to remind myself of this idea. Then, I showed this picture to everyone who’s come to our house to get their take on this idea #thatshowIroll.IMG_1713Part of  the appeal was that it looked like a project I could do myself. I did some Googling and Pinteresting and found this great tutorial. Totally something I can do!

Then, my parents came to visit and being late fall in “the country,” there’s not a ton to do. The leaves have dropped and the orchards have frozen, it’s too cold to go for a hike, but not cold enough for snow to go skiing or snowshoeing, and there’s only so many historic mansions you can tour at one time (we’re not art museum people). In other words, it looked like my parents needed a project, so I promptly offloaded the shelving idea to Larry who excels at things like measuring and planning (not my strength). He watched the video tutorial a few times and got to work on planning out how many pieces he’d need while my mom and I got to work painting the wall a medium-darkish shade of grey. Goodbye dingy white!ShelfWall2I went to work and came home to this! We ended up not installing the fifth bracket/support to change it up a bit and I love the way it came out. You have to love that as part of the carload of crap stuff from my childhood, a teddy bear made the trip that I haven’t seen in 20+ years, and that it was the first thing to decorate these shelves. #thankslarry ShelfWall3I then unpacked all the boxes of books that Larry drove cross-country. It was like seeing old friends. I seriously love having my books around. If we’re being honest here, I’ve only read half of them cover to cover, but still. I love them.DIYPipeShelvesThis is the first attempt at the styled shelves. I’m confident it will get many more treatments as I continue to unpack boxes and scavenge flea markets, but I LOVE the way the shelves turned out! They look really cool when you’re standing on the lawn. My photography skills don’t extend to shooting through a window and up two stories with changing lighting, so you’ll have to take my word for it. Or come visit.DIYPipeShelves2A HUGE thank you to Larry and my mom for helping us make some home-decor progress!

How to Build Quick and Affordable Shelves

There may be Christmas tunes playing right now. Am I the only one?

Our new house has some funky living spaces. First, when you come through the front door, you walk right into the only official living space in the house. This does not work for me. I’m not the kind of person who needs a formal sitting room or big vaulted entryway, but I’m not a fan of walking right into the TV room. Here’s how the real estate listing showed the room and how we have it for now, until we tear a wall down.


Second, the house is officially four bedrooms, but the 4th bedroom is a large room on the main floor that should clearly be the family/TV room. Since it wasn’t designed as the TV room, the space is awkward because it has a closet and doesn’t naturally fit couches or a TV.

We’ve made our existing couches work for now, but the only place for the TV is along a looong wall that drowns out our small table that was functioning as our entertainment center. I was ready to throw my hands up with this room and accept that for now, it would be functional and I’d worry about designing the space after I dealt with the rest of the house. 

An aside, the minute I give up on something, I end up diving into it full force. e.g. after years of freaking out about taking fish off the fishing hook, I declared one summer during college I was giving up on fishing. Then, I went back to Bozeman for school—where you can’t not fish—a month later and took up fly fishing like it was my job. This happens over and over. So, as soon as I gave up on the TV room, I figured out a plan for the entertainment center, which turned out to be a college throwback solution.

Cinderblocks! I know, you’re thinking one of two things: are you a 20 year old guy? or, you have a job, buy a real piece of furniture. But here’s the deal, since the space is a little funky and we’re still figuring out the best set up, I don’t want to commit to a large furniture purchase. And, I like the rustic, industrial look of using building materials in decor. I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got up my sleeves with a whole stack of metal pipes.

I measured the wall length and ran to Lowe’s and picked up some simple cinderblocks and headed to the shelving section. At this point my cart was crazy heavy and I was getting some weird looks as I tried to maneuver 252lbs (I looked it up, #nerdalert) of cinderblocks around the store.  I found these boards that look like a patchwork quilt #love.


I spent at least an hour detangling all our cords. Taz was a big help.


I defrosted bacon for dinner. #multitasking


Ahhhh! That feels better.


Then, I threw together the bookshelf. It took 30 minutes to carry in all the cinderblocks and under 10 to set up the shelf. I tried really hard to hide all the cords, but totally failed, so no tips on that today.


Once I get this room painted and commit to the decor, I plan to whitewash the cinderblocks and stain the boards to bring out the patchwork pattern. We’re just to the unpacking point where I’ll break out all the things I style bookshelves with. So for now, here it is!



Love this wood grain! Can’t wait to stain it.


Have Lowe’s cut the boards to the length you need in the store. This saves you a step at home.
Use unfinished shelving boards to keep the price down.
Keep the space between cinderblocks to under 3 feet so your boards don’t bow. Or, stack books under the longer span if you want less blocks.

Project Cost: $98

I’ve seen some great cinderblock projects out there. Have you used them in creative home projects?