DIY Problem Solving: A Slim Behind-the-Sofa Console!

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

This post is sponsored by Lowe’s

When we made significant progress on the trim work in the Tree House living room a little while back, there was one intentional omission. We skipped the baseboards behind the couch because we had bigger plans in store! Because we use this large pouf as a footrest where a coffee table would usually sit, we were severely lacking in the places-to-put-a-beverage department. Morning coffee mugs, evening wine and cocktail glasses would end up balanced precariously on the flat back portion of the sofa, leading to a delicate dance any time someone got up, sat down, or shifted their position. So, you know, all the time.

We needed a solution.

Our living room is a bit on the narrow side, and the sofa is pretty chunky, so right from the beginning, we had the idea for a super slim console shelf that could squeeze in neatly behind the couch while also offer lots of functionality. (Think: A place for all the drinks and snacks, plus cubbies for records and books!) We were working with an incredibly specific set of dimensions, and we certainly wouldn’t be able to buy this piece off the shelf, so we got to work building it ourselves!

Tools + Supplies Used

1″ x 6″ x 10′ Oak Board
16″ Pine Boards
Corner Braces/Shelf Brackets
1 1/2″ Drywall Screws5/8″ Wood Screws
Anchors (if stud locations aren’t ideal)
Small Washers
Mini Paint Roller and tray
Paintbrush
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Studfinder
Wood Glue
Tape Measure
Level
Cordless Nailer with 1 1/2″ Finish Nails
Speed Square
Sanding Block
Pencil

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DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

What We Did:

Prior to purchasing any of our lumber, we confirmed the depth that would be right for the space. Our goal was to be able to fit a few books, magazines and board games, as well as any overflow records on the outer shelves of the piece. We also wanted to minimize the amount of cuts we’d have to make, so we settled on 5 1/2″ depth, which is the actual size of dimensional 6″ lumber (1″ x 6″ dimensional = 3/4″ x 5 1/2″ actual).

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

The storage boxes – cubbies? – on each side of the console consists of 16″ project panels for the vertical sides and 1″ x 6″ lumber for all horizontals and the back. Using the miter saw, we cut cut each project panel to the desired height (24″ in our case) and did a quick sand to smooth out the cut edges.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

The primed 1″ x 6″ boards for the top, bottom, and center shelves of the boxes were ripped down on the table saw to a width of 4″. (Because 4″ for a shelf + 3/4″ for the left vertical side + 3/4″ for the right vertical side = 5 1/2″ total depth). We kept a couple lengths of 1″ x 6″ boards as-is, because they would need to remain 5 1/2″ wide for the backs.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

We find that painting all pieces prior to final assembly results in better finish quality, with fewer paint drips. The mini roller with a 4″ foam cover made quick work of covering all of our visible surfaces with the same white satin paint we’ve used for all of our trim. Note: when using edge glued boards (i.e., project panels), there is almost always a ‘front’ and a ‘back’ surface, with one side bring more finely finished than the other. 

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Once everything was cut, sanded and painted, the boxes went together very quickly. We laid the first side down and then measured and marked the placement of the top, center, and bottom boards using a speed square to ensure that everything lined up on perfect 90 degree angles.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

We then ran down a thin bead of wood glue on each edge…

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

…and fastened the opposite side into place using our cordless nailer with 1 1/2″ finish nails.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Next, we flipped the whole unit over and repeated the process on the other side.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

The back panel was attached next using the same glue/finish nail combination. The boxes were so sturdy! Note: the top, rear, and ‘wall’ side of the boxes weren’t painted since they’d be concealed behind the couch at all times.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Once the two boxes were complete, we played around with spacing behind the couch until we were happy with the overall width. We found a beautiful piece of oak for the top, and once we had our exact measurement, we cut the oak down on our miter saw, allowing for a 1/4″ overhang on each end to lend a bit of visual interest.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

A dry fit of our oak top ensured we were on the right path! Next, Kim marked the location of each stud, and I followed behind her and attached L-brackets into the studs with drywall screws (and small washers since the holes in the brackets were a bit larger than we realized). The top panel was then attached to the brackets with 5/8″ wood screws and the same small washers.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Finally, Kim applied 3 thin coats of clear matte Polycrylic, lightly sanding between each coat.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Here’s how it looked before we pushed the couch back into place:

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

And here she is all finished!

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

To complete the look, we installed a few inches of baseboard to fill the gap between the console and the door frame on either side. As an extra step, all the seams were caulked and everything received a final coat of touch-up paint. Originally, we had kicked around the idea of building the whole piece out of banded furniture-grade plywood for a lighter tone, but after a little bit (okay, a lot bit) of back and forth, we ultimately decided on a two-tone look! This way, the baseboards would meet up nicely with the cubby-slash-boxes, which we think lends a very ‘built-in’ feel.

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Records can be a tricky thing to store conveniently since they’re basically a large, thin square. We knew we wanted to store a few overflow LP’s in the bottom sections of our console, but we didn’t want to limit the depth of our boxes to the size of a record. The storage interior ended up with a depth of 16″, so using a piece of leftover oak, we cut it down to act as a spacer in the back of the box. This would allow us to push the records all the way back to the oak block, keeping things visually tidy while providing us with easy access to pull from. It’s a perfect solution that’s not permanent in any way!

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick Home

Records, coffee table books, magazines, and a few baby books fill the shelves for now. They’ll also be ideal for board games and puzzles down the road!

DIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDIY console behind the couch, skinny console storage solution | via Yellow Brick HomeDare I jinx us and say that this was the rare project in which there were literally no surprises? That statement isn’t uttered often when working inside a house that’s creeping up on its hundredth birthday! The build and install went together seamlessly, the end results were just what we had in mind! The oak ledge is so handsome and serves as the perfect space to rest a drink – safely. But! This wall isn’t done just yet. Next up? We’re brainstorming a couple of different options that will allow us to make use of the two power outlets behind the sofa, and we’d like to install some soft lighting down the road. Ooh, and art! Piece by piece, it’s coming together.

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  • M - January 7, 2019 - 8:22 AM

    Just letting you know that your last few posts are not loading in Feedly, I’m only getting the first paragraph.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 7, 2019 - 9:33 AM

      After receiving a lot of reader feedback and suggestions, we’ve summarized our posts in the feed. You can click on ‘view original post’ to see the full content within our own site design. Thank you for following along!ReplyCancel

      • Crystal - January 7, 2019 - 2:08 PM

        I am still having trouble with the site loading slowly and the ads causing the text to jump around as they load and update. I always click through and read on your page, not in a reader feed.ReplyCancel

        • Kim - January 7, 2019 - 2:15 PM

          This is so helpful! We had hoped we had eliminated a lot of those issues. Are you able to clear your web cache and see if you’re still having the problems? We still have a handful of things to implement before we can even consider some of these glitches complete. We appreciate your feedback!ReplyCancel

      • Emily - January 7, 2019 - 2:30 PM

        I’m glad you did this! I always forget to click over, but have been trying to since YHL mentioned y’all don’t get “clicks” from feedly.ReplyCancel

      • M - January 7, 2019 - 7:59 PM

        Oh no! This makes me sad. Your blog is so hard to read on my phone, that Feedly is the only way I can do it. If you can’t show the whole post in Feedly, I might have to stop reading (which I really don’t want to do). I hope you can find a solution!ReplyCancel

        • Kim - January 8, 2019 - 8:29 AM

          We’re working on an improved mobile view early this year. Thanks for the feedback!ReplyCancel

  • Janet - January 7, 2019 - 9:12 AM

    Did you also install baseboard behind the couch?ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 7, 2019 - 9:31 AM

      Not yet! It’s an interior wall, so we’re not too worried about that just yet. When we finish baseboards on the dining side of the room, we’ll probably go back and add it behind the couch. In the meantime, we completed the boards on the outside of the console for a built-in look.ReplyCancel

  • AnnMarie - January 7, 2019 - 9:12 AM

    This looks gorgeous!ReplyCancel

  • Claire - January 7, 2019 - 9:37 AM

    So impressive, as always!ReplyCancel

    • Scott - January 7, 2019 - 9:38 AM

      Thank you for the kind words, Claire!ReplyCancel

  • Amanda Morris - January 7, 2019 - 10:12 AM

    I’ve been looking for something like this for behind our couch. Everything is always too wide. This is the perfect solution. Awesome!!ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 7, 2019 - 10:19 AM

      We had the same issue over and over and over. Custom ftw!ReplyCancel

  • Hannah Gokie - January 7, 2019 - 10:13 AM

    This is such a smart and functional solution, I love it!ReplyCancel

  • Jenn - January 7, 2019 - 12:14 PM

    I’d do some hinged access point with finger holes to access a power strip on a shelf. I also recommend the integrated IKEA wireless chargers also. We have installed a couple of them into existing furniture and love them.ReplyCancel

    • Kim - January 7, 2019 - 12:36 PM

      Love this idea! We still want to add a sconce or two down the road, so we made sure that the top was easy to remove should we need to add a hole for a plug. But that might be a good to incorporate power in some way, too. Thank you for the tip!ReplyCancel

  • Sharon - January 7, 2019 - 5:51 PM

    This is genius. I love it! Happy New Year to the three of you :)ReplyCancel

    • Scott - January 8, 2019 - 8:34 AM

      Thanks Sharon! Happy New Year to you too!ReplyCancel

  • Mallory - January 8, 2019 - 8:30 AM

    This is inspirational-I love it!ReplyCancel

  • Karen T. - January 9, 2019 - 7:54 AM

    And this is why I visit this website!! Amazing solution and it looks awesome. Filing this away for my next house!ReplyCancel

  • Jane @ Modern Housewives - January 16, 2019 - 4:59 AM

    This is a very cool way to use the space behind the sofa, thank you for sharing! We also have a small gap between the couch and the wall, and we often drop things in there, and the cat also loves to try and get in there head first, so we’ve been wanting to cover the space somehow, to spare us some time from having to move the couch and retrieve things from there. We will definitely consider something similar, it doesn’t seem to be hard to make, and it’s very practical.ReplyCancel

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