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)
Mini Paint Roller and tray
Cordless Nailer with 1 1/2″ Finish Nails
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
We then ran down a thin bead of wood glue on each edge…
…and fastened the opposite side into place using our cordless nailer with 1 1/2″ finish nails.
Next, we flipped the whole unit over and repeated the process on the other side.
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.
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.
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.
Finally, Kim applied 3 thin coats of clear matte Polycrylic, lightly sanding between each coat.
Here’s how it looked before we pushed the couch back into place:
And here she is all finished!
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.
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!
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!
Dare 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.