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Without a doubt, the most important component of our workshop will be – scratch that, is – the ability for heavy-duty storage. For almost two years, we’ve been tripping over power tools and our bulky air compressor, wading through paint cans (only to realize the can we need is at the bottom of a 10-can stack) and digging through cardboard boxes to find the fine grit sandpaper. It’s a miracle anything was ever accomplished in this house at all!

Finally, we have some shelves! Some really big, really hunky, really strong shelves!


After making a list of all the easy access items we’d like to store in the workshop (vs. what’ll end up going in the garage), we calculated and re-calculated how many shelves we’d need, how high they’d go and how much space they’ll allow. We measured our big bins, the height of two paint cans and checked inventory on all the glues, tapes and things that allow us to complete any given project. The prep and planning was a good week’s worth of work alone. And then, we got to work work!

For anyone who wants to take on this same project, your shopping list will vary depending on the width of your shelves, but here’s what we bought for four 6′ wide, wall-to-wall floating shelves:

4 – 1/4″ sheets of plywood
12 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′
12′ of 1″ x 6″ alpine planks
2.5″ wood screws
4″ wood screws
Wood stain in Special Walnut
Wall color touch-up paint (Stratton Blue, Ben Moore)
2 – 2″ nuts + bolts (not pictured above)
50 lb. anchors (not pictured above)
Drywall or wood screws (not pictured above)

Miter saw for small cuts
Circular saw for long cuts
Table saw for ripping down alpine planks
Drill + right angle adapter
Nail gun
Measuring tape
Paint brush
Rags for stain

WHAT WE DID. First, we took a minute to locate the studs behind our drywall. Jack likes to get involved, too, which always helps.


We needed to ensure that our shelves are strong, so we needed to build a support system that we would ultimately hide beneath the plywood sheets. We cut our 2x4s to the widths of our wall – two per shelf. To create a ladder-like support structure, we also made 14″ cuts from the remaining 2x4s, which was enough for 7 supports, end to end.

To save time and avoid needing to make any pocket holes, we used 2.5″ wood screws to create 3 sides of our internal structure, with about 12″ between each support. Note: Measure each shelf independently, as drywall is rarely (if ever?) square. For example, some of our wall widths varied by a 1/2″. The more precise your cuts, the better your outcome!



We attached our frame to the wall, putting two 4″ screws into each and every stud along the way. The level became our best friend at this point, and as is typical with inexpensive 2x4s, we did have some less than perfect twists in the wood. A good tug while keeping things level was necessary to get our support in place, and a right angle drill adapter was used for the studs to the left and right of the main wall; it was a tight squeeze. The remaining 2×4 was screwed on to the front, and again, we made sure to level, level, level.

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We continued up the wall, allowing for different heights between the shelves, starting with 18″ at the bottom, two at 16″ and one at 14″. These shelves aren’t going anywhere!

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I added a light coat of our wall color along the 2x4s, but only where the 2x4s meet with the wall. My thought was more preventative than anything; any imperfect cuts in our plywood would hopefully blend into the wall.


Now, let’s talk about those plywood sheets! We had all four sheets cut down to 17″ strips at the hardware store, which was the perfect depth to skim our ladder supports. (Think: 1.5″ 2×4 + 14″ support + 1.5″ 2×4 = 17″)

This meant that we only needed to use the circular saw to cut down the 6′ widths. The edges got a gentle sanding, and I stained everything using Special Walnut. (We opted to nix polyurethane altogether, since these shelves will be holding All the Things that’ll just scratch it up. It feels less precious this way, somehow.) Once the plywood was ready to go, a mallet helped to ease the boards into place – top and bottom – and we used a nail gun to secure the sheets along the ladder support.

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With everything skimmed, we had a height of exactly 4″ for each shelf, and although we initially planned on using the leftover 1/4″ plywood to create the false fronts, we figured that for the amount of work we’d already put into these shelves, we should make it count. And so, we picked up 1×6 aspen planks, ripped them down to 4″ on the table saw, stained them, and, finally, popped them on with our nail gun. It was absolutely worth it!


You guys! We love them. The project turned out way better than we imagined it would, and we both joked that they were too nice for the workshop! In any case, the goal was to make them super strong (check!) and durable (check!), and we can’t wait to load them up.

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We have a few more finishing touches for the room that we’d like to finish up this week, but it’s so close to being complete! And then maybe – maybe – we might be able to finish the kitchen. Word on the street is that our back door will be here mid-May, I say, as I knock on wood.


workshop-tool-engineer-print-16Sticking with our hang-all-the-things theme in the workshop, we added a big dose of DIY art! Because we chose blue-green for the walls and everything on the (still non-existent) shelves will be colorful in its own right, we wanted the art to feel subtle. And so in its final form, it looks like this:


The working side of the shop is shaping up! (In other news, Scott insisted that the chalkboard skull should ultimately live in this room; it’s a perfect fit!) There’s not much more that’ll happen by the workbench, as the goal is to keep things feeling open and fuss-free – but you know we couldn’t just leave the wall empty. We had tossed around a few ideas over the last month on how we could fill that space – more shelves? Hanging bins? Art? We nixed additional shelving or bins/baskets, as it would just be one more thing to dust (or vacuum!), and this photo idea had been floating around in my head since first being inspired by these gorgeous prints.

We had an oddly fun time getting the shot, as evidenced by my balancing act, below! We dug for chisels, pliers and sledgehammers in every dirty, rusty toolbox we could find in the garage, with a heavy focus on the motto the more loved, the better. For the backdrop, we used a sheet of black foam core (that would later pull double duty as our frame backing), and we set ourselves up away from a window to avoid harsh shadows and sun spots.  To get that bird’s eye view, Scott strapped my camera + tripod to our ladder. Perfect!


We first laid out our design on the dining table (you can see it behind me, above), I took a photo of the winning layout on my phone, then I looked through the camera and referenced the snapshot while Scott replicated it below on the foam core:


We had an oversized print made at Fed Ex Kinko’s, with the final size being 32″ x 40″ for a grand total of $5! The same size cut of glass was an additional $18 from Ace Hardware, and we made the frame using the same technique as our entryway mirror and dino DIY.


After hanging our artwork, we were feeling energized and hung a new-to-us light fixture! We picked it up from an Elkhorn Flea excursion (seen here), and Scott re-wired it using this houndstooth cord, ceiling canopy and mount kit from Snakehead Vintage.

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The workshop is looking so cute! We may even complete this room before the kitchen – now wouldn’t that be something? As we inch closer to May, we can’t help but laugh that we once had blissful thoughts of a finished kitchen by end of February. That door though! Grumble, grumble.

But let’s bring it back around to fun times – we created a free download of our tool print for you, too! No dangerous balancing acts required. It’s available as a full color, high resolution 8×10 jpg* RIGHT HERE. Get it!

*Photo file is for personal use only. It will open as a downloadable zip in a separate window.

  • Adrienne J - April 21, 2015 - 8:07 AM

    Hi Kim! Would it be possible to do some interior organizing shots of the storage contains and drawers? I have a very similar situation in which one of our downstairs rooms is used to house all our tools. It’s somewhat organized but I currently cannot close the toolbox drawers. My other half + organizing do not mix, lol.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2015 - 9:01 AM

      Hi Adrienne! The organizers you see in these shots have individual compartments that hold a bunch of types of screws/anchors/fasteners/etc. The drawers and black storage have yet to be organized – yet!

      We’ll be focusing on the other side of the room this week/weekend hopefully. THAT will be a HUGE difference in how we function around all the DIY in this house! Can’t wait to share.ReplyCancel

  • Laura @ - April 21, 2015 - 8:43 AM

    Cool idea! It reminds me of a pegboard tool organizer. How do you like the quality of those oversized prints? I’ve been thinking of doing that for my daughter’s bedroom – having a large print made of a star map or world map – but I’m concerned it would look kind of cheap and low-res next to her other art-quality prints.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2015 - 8:59 AM

      It does look like that!

      The quality is low (not in a pixelated way though), like any engineer print, but there’s sort of an old-school feel to them. It looks like a print that was run through the copier in the lobby of an office building, you know? We played with the contrast a few times to get what we liked, which helps, too. For example, our dino prints above the couch are high contrast for super rich blacks and bright highlights, but we wanted this at a lower contrast so it didn’t look like big cut outs.ReplyCancel

  • Amanda - April 21, 2015 - 9:30 AM

    This room is looking great! And I see you’re still a snake plant fan? One of my goals for this summer is to bring in some house plants, so it’s good to see that you still have them around. I was planning to get at least one for my house since they’ve safe for dogs… because I’m sure mine will try to eat it, at least once.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2015 - 9:37 AM

      The snake plant in my work/shipping room upstairs is SO huge, it’s taking over the house! The snake plants in our Woolly are soooo talllll (need to do an update on that thing), and so we’re 100% on board with these guys.ReplyCancel

  • anni - April 21, 2015 - 9:46 AM

    Just when something you’ve done becomes my favorite a new post gives me a new favorite.ReplyCancel

  • Cait @Hernando House - April 21, 2015 - 11:12 AM

    The workroom is coming together so nicely! Love the print :)ReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - April 21, 2015 - 11:22 AM

    Such a perfect piece of art for the workshop room, and you just gave me an idea for taking better overhead shots on a ladder with the help of my tripod. Thank you! ;)

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  • Deb - April 21, 2015 - 1:49 PM

    You seriously have the coolest workroom.Ever. If that was mine, I’d sit in there smugly and drink wine all the time.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 21, 2015 - 5:00 PM

      Ha! I may have done that last night.ReplyCancel

  • Monika - April 21, 2015 - 3:21 PM

    Man, oh man, that turned out “pawsome!” Well done you guys. :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia@Cukoo4Design - April 21, 2015 - 5:16 PM

    I’m so super jealous of your workshop. And that print is just the best idea. Love itReplyCancel

  • Seng - April 21, 2015 - 8:27 PM

    I love it!! I LOVE the industrial look of the light fixture!!


  • Jackie - April 22, 2015 - 2:44 PM

    Very cool! Thank you for including the shot of you shooting the image too — I’ve always struggled with getting that angle and never would have thought of strapping the tripod to a ladder.ReplyCancel

  • […] I love a good DIY wall art project. This oversize tool art idea is customizable and costs only$5! (via Yellow Brick […]ReplyCancel



We’re all about the wall mount in this tiny workshop, apparently! I was completely inspired by this studio roller, and after running the idea past Scott – we can make this!, I said – he was on board and agreed it would be a simple enough DIY. It is a simple enough DIY, although we did run into one glitch – more on that in a minute. In our execution, we liked the idea of adding a shelf across the top for stashing a plant or leaning a photo – or for the extra tall (aka: anyone but me), it would be a landing spot for storing markers.

Before any weekend, we typically go through a list of home-related to-dos, often times drawing each other diagrams on scraps of paper to get our ideas across. These papers are tacked to the fridge so we can both stay on track while having the satisfaction of crossing items off, but now? We can keep these lists, notes and sketches in the workshop and use a big red marker to slash through the completes. Yea!


20″ kraft paper roll
2 – Ekby Lerberg IKEA shelf brackets
1 1/8″ dowel rod
2 – 1 1/2″ washers
3′ flat aluminum bar
Flat black spray paint
2″ x 10″ x 8′
Wood stain in Special Walnut
Polycrylic in satin
2 – 2″ nuts + bolts (not pictured above)
50 lb. anchors (not pictured above)
Drywall or wood screws (not pictured above)

Miter saw for cuts
Table saw for squared edges (see alternative in step-by-step)
Dremel w/ metal attachment
Drill + right angle adapter
Measuring tape
Orbital sander
Paint brush and/or rags for stain/poly

WHAT WE DID. We prepped all of our supplies by making cuts, drilling pilot holes and spray painting. In our supply list, you’ll notice that we used a 2″ x 10″ for the shelf, which might be overkill to replicate since it bears little to no weight. In our case, we pulled double duty and built that shelf along the wall above the workbench, squaring the edges on our table saw and ripping everything down to the right depth. For anyone else, a 1×8 piece of pine would work just as well, since you’ll want to have a 7.5″ depth once you’re done.

For a 20″ kraft paper roll, we cut our 2×10 to 23″ x 7.5″, the dowel rod to 23 1/8″ and the aluminum flat bar to 22″ (using the dremel). If you’re using a smaller or larger paper roll, you can add or subtract your measurements all the same! I then sprayed the brackets, dowel and washers with flat black spray paint.


Scott drilled pilot holes on both ends of the dowel rod and aluminum bar, with the bar’s holes being large enough to easily fit a drywall screw:


The shelf was sanded with our orbital, and I followed that up with two coats of Minwax Special Walnut stain using a rag, and with a paintbrush, I applied two coats of Polycrylic in a satin finish.

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Once the poly was dry, Scott drilled small pilot holes and used wood screws to attach the brackets. Our preference was a perfect fit (as our measurements above indicate), so the brackets went end-to-end and edge-to-edge.


We eyeballed the height and placement, keeping in mind that the writing area is below the bottom of the brackets! The unit was anchored into the wall, using a level to ensure everything lined up properly. A right angle drill adapter was used to anchor everything in place, but measuring everything beforehand and slipping it on would work too for a little extra effort. On a side note, we’ve been using and loving all in one anchors (50 lb.) to make the job even easier! Tip: The brackets needed leveled along the sides and a gentle nudge to make sure they were straight up and down. They flexed easily enough to make this happen.

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With all the drilling and anchoring, you’re bound to have a few scuffs on your freshly painted brackets, so we touched those up using a cotton swab. I’ve shared this before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again; just spray the paint into the lid until you have a small pool to pull from!


Now, here’s where things fall off track. The idea behind using these particular Ikea brackets was to build in a self-roll-down – meaning, as the paper roll gets thinner with use, it will naturally roll down the bracket and stay flush against the wall. Unfortunately, once we put the dowel rod + paper in place, the roll itself was too heavy, and the friction against the wall proved to be too much! It would. Not. Budge. We had discussed beforehand that this might happen, but I was stubborn and wanted to push through, so, lesson learned.


But! Scott came up with the EASIEST solution! We rummaged through our bins and buckets of loose screws and found these 2″ nuts and bolts (which I sprayed black for a seamless look).


Then, Scott drilled right through the bracket, about a 1/2″ up from where the dowel rod was originally sitting. We just screwed the bolts into place…

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… and then we put the dowel and roll back in place, now resting on the 2″ bolt. It worked! It rolls! The dowel stays static (so there’s no paint rubbing or chipping), and the kraft paper is off the wall just enough that it spins with ease. From there, we used wood screws to secure the washers to the ends of the dowel rod.


While our solution gives the roll a fixed place, we still love the look and simplicity of the brackets. As the paper gets really thin down the road, we’ll likely have to install another aluminum bar under the base of the brackets, or if the paper gets light enough, we could move the dowel + paper under the bolts and roll with the original plan.

Finally, we used drywall screws to attach the aluminum bare towards the bottom of the paper – loose enough so that the paper doesn’t get stuck, but no loose that they feel flimsy. When we’re ready for a fresh sheet (and ready to kiss last week’s to-do buh-bye), the paper easily tears away!

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Again, the leftover 2×10 was turned into a long shelf above the workbench using the Ekby Valter brackets. It’ll stay mostly empty as an additional space to spread out and, most importantly, be the space where we keep those jars of loose screws. We’ve got plenty of those. (Ha!)

  • Madeline @ CBC Blog - April 16, 2015 - 6:40 AM

    So this DIY is great. But what is awesome is the anchors & the right angle drill attachment. Um, I hang a lot of things on walls and put together a lot of awkward furniture- why did I not know about these?!!? Mind blown.ReplyCancel

  • susan - April 16, 2015 - 7:11 AM

    love this! a mini version would be great a kitchen for grocery lists. thanks for the idea!

    p.s. just curious, but why didn’t you just use a 2×8 for the shelves?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 16, 2015 - 7:29 AM

      It would be great for a kitchen – or a playroom too! A 2×8 is really only 7.5″, so once we rip off the rounded edges, it would fall short at about 7″. We just prefer the look of the squared edges! On the other hand, a 1×8 would be perfect, since those edges are already squared, but we wanted the leftover for that hunky shelf above the workbench.ReplyCancel

  • Megan {The Brick Bungalow} - April 16, 2015 - 7:42 AM

    Love this idea! It would work great for so many ideas!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon @ Fabulously Vintage - April 16, 2015 - 8:29 AM

    This is awesome! I absolutely love this! I bet you could use something like this in your studio for packaging up those amazing little portraits you do. :)ReplyCancel

  • Julia [Chris Loves Julia] - April 16, 2015 - 8:36 AM

    I’ve wanted one since I was a little girl and I used to draw all over my grandma’s. You’ve totally inspired me and reignited that desire! Awesome DIY, Vargos!!! Can’t wait to find a spot for this in our house!ReplyCancel

  • Nicole - April 16, 2015 - 9:00 AM

    I could not love this project any more. I have a honking roll of craft paper that I just feel moving around and hiding behind doors and in corners. No more! Thanks for the inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Sara - April 16, 2015 - 9:25 AM

    I am in LOVE with this DIY – I so want to replicate this for our boys’ playroom! :)ReplyCancel

  • Heather {A Fire Pole in the Dining Room} - April 16, 2015 - 10:13 AM

    I love this! So functional and stylish.ReplyCancel

  • Ryan | The Blooming Thread - April 16, 2015 - 10:52 AM

    I love this so much it makes me want to just freak out! Seriously haha. You both are just so amazing, and talented. I was reading the past post for grouting tiles and shook my head in just at how beautiful the kitchen came together, down the cabinet pulls. At this point, youre pretty much building my dream house. Love the paint color in here too with the wood and black accents. Bravo!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 16, 2015 - 11:05 AM

      Well, you know how to make a girl happy. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - April 16, 2015 - 5:00 PM

    what right-angle adapter are you using? we totally need one of those!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 16, 2015 - 9:25 PM

      It’s just the Milwaukee brand adapter that goes with our Milwaukee drill! Best drill ever, by the way.ReplyCancel

  • Jannike - April 16, 2015 - 10:16 PM

    A compulsive list-maker (me) fantasy project. :)ReplyCancel

  • Trude - April 17, 2015 - 10:41 AM

    Looks so good, and convenient! Really loving the stain color too. :)ReplyCancel

  • The Kentucky Gent - April 20, 2015 - 11:17 AM

    This workshop is turning out so cute! Love this idea.

    Josh – The Kentucky Gent

  • megan - April 22, 2015 - 4:07 PM

    what an awesome DIY! I’d love to use something like this in a kids space too!
    thanks for sharing

  • Sarah - April 27, 2015 - 9:46 AM

    Hi Kim! New to your blog and love it.
    Did you use wood conditioner before applying the stain?

    Also wondering if it was significantly lighter after only the first stain coat? I’m trying to find the right stain shade for a new pine table. Thanks!! :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim - April 27, 2015 - 10:48 AM

      Hi Sarah, welcome! The stain does get darker with each coat, but it really depends on what color/look you’re going for. We wanted to darken these up a little more than the first coat color for a medium tone, but one coat is a tiny bit lighter… Darker stains (such as dark walnut, Jacobean or Ebony, all Minwax products) get MUCH darker the more you layer in our experience. I’d suggest buying a plank of pine and playing with a handful of stains – mixing and matching until you get the look you want! It’s worth it to spend the extra money on smaller pots before committing to your whole table.ReplyCancel

      • Sarah - April 27, 2015 - 12:41 PM

        Hi Kim, great idea. Thanks for the advice :)ReplyCancel