Recessed shelves are flush with a wall surface, offering functionality in a space-saving design. These unique shelves are the perfect places to display knickknacks and other collectibles. Adding lighting to the area makes displays of crystal and china sparkle. This project is relatively easy, costs under $250, and takes under a half day.
You will need:
• ¾-inch plywood
• Wood trim
• Pre-cut acrylic sheets
• Small, battery-operated lighting
• Wood glue
• Stain or paint and primer
• Paint tray
• Paint roller
• Double-stick tape
• Drywall saw
• Razor knife
• Reciprocating saw
• Chop saw
• Circular saw
• Screw gun
• Brad nailer
• Stud finder
• Straight edge
• Plumb bob
Step 1: Decide on a size for the shelving unit and choose where it will be located on the wall. Avoid spots directly below or above lighting fixtures, outlets, or wall switches, which may contain in-wall electrical wiring. Use the stud finder to locate wall studs. The shelving unit will be placed between these.
Step 2: Use the razor knife and straight edge to score drywall where the shelving unit will be installed. Knock a hole in the drywall within this scored outline, using the hammer.
Step 3: Check behind the drywall for obstacles like wiring. If there are none, cut around your scored line with a drywall saw, avoiding electrical wires.
Step 4: Measure and then cut the plywood to the desired dimensions for the shelf unit. If you want to install adjustable shelves, plywood featuring pre-cut grooves can be used for the sides. Make cuts so grooves will align during assembly, creating even shelves.
Step 5: Use the brad nailer and wood glue to put together the shelving unit. Add the decorative wood trim around the box face. This covers plywood edges and hides gaps between the drywall and shelf unit.
Step 6: Sand the trim and shelf box. Prime and paint it or stain it to achieve the desired look.
Step 7: The weight of the shelf box and what it will display determine the type of behind-wall support needed. If the box is heavy, add support by attaching 2x4s to the wall framing. Line up these boards to the edge of the opening in the drywall. If the shelf is light, insert plywood strips behind the drywall, aligning them with the hole edges. Use the screws to attach the plywood to the drywall.
Step 8: Slide the shelf box into the drywall hole. Check for level and plumb. Secure the box to the wall by either nailing through the sides into the 2×4 frame you made or nailing through the trim on the front into the installed plywood strips.
Step 9: Have a home improvement store pre-cut acrylic sheets to create shelves. Before sliding these shelves into the grooves in the shelf box, remove their plastic protectors. Install a battery-operated light in the top of the shelf box with double-sided tape. This will cast light onto the displayed items.