Transform your garage into a DIY workshop and create cool shelves for your home with stuff you already have on hand. Get creative with scrap wood, tools, hardware and found items to make customized shelves that show off your personality. These garage-made shelf ideas are budget-friendly, beginner-friendly, and will make great conversational pieces.
Your garage is a treasure trove of materials waiting to be upcycled into cool shelves and storage solutions. With a little bit of creativity, you can give old boards, pipes, crates, ladders, and more new life as handy shelving for any room.
Custom shelves made from garage scraps add personality to your home decor. The materials already have a unique patina and history that store-bought shelves lack. Building your own shelves also allows you to customize the size, shape, color and details to perfectly fit your space and style.
Making DIY shelves out of garage items is also a budget-friendly option. You skip the costs of buying new materials and put stuff you already have to good use. Beginner DIYers can start with simple, low-risk garage shelf projects to develop their skills before tackling more advanced builds.
This article will overview creative shelf ideas using the following garage items:
- Wood boards
- Pipes and plumbing parts
- Crates and boxes
- Salvaged items
We’ll also go over design considerations and fundamental construction steps to help you build cool, functional shelves to display in your home. Let’s get started transforming basic garage scrap into beautiful bespoke shelving!
Shelves From Wood Boards
Wood boards are one of the most versatile garage items for making shelves. Even a pile of old, scrap boards can be repurposed into stylish storage solutions. Here are some of the many ways to turn wood boards into shelves:
Floating Corner Shelves
Floating corner shelves instantly catch the eye. They utilize wasted space and make a striking visual feature in any room. To DIY simple floating corner shelves:
- Cut scrap boards to your desired shelf dimensions. Longer boards work better to span a corner.
- Sand the boards smooth and apply stain, paint or another finish.
- Mount the boards diagonally or perpendicular to the corner walls with sturdy braces.
Add pops of color by painting the back wall behind the shelves. Display plants, books, artwork or other decor in staggered heights for a gallery wall effect.
Rustic Plank Shelves
The rustic, raw look of unfinished wood planks is a popular shelf aesthetic. Try incorporating:
- Varying wood textures and stains
- Distressed details
- Metal accents like brackets or pipe supports
For an easy plank shelf, just sand and seal wider boards. You can build staggered shelves by screwing the boards directly into wall studs or attaching shelf brackets.
Pallet Wood Shelves
Upcycle an old shipping pallet into rustic chic shelves. Pallet wood brings nice color variation and an industrial vibe.
Take apart a wooden pallet to harvest the boards. Cut them down to your desired shelf sizes. Use a hammer to distress the wood. Stain, seal or paint the pallet boards before assembling and mounting your shelves.
Wood Crate Shelves
Old wooden crates offer the bones of ready-made shelving. Simply stack and arrange the crates into boxy shelves or attach them together in creative formations. Keep the original patina or sand and paint the crates for a more cohesive, colorful look. Wood crate shelves work especially well in industrial, vintage and farmhouse decor styles.
Repurposed Ladder Shelves
Turn an old wooden ladder into shelving by laying it on its side. Secure the legs to the wall and add brackets across the rungs for extra support. A ladder shelf brings fun retro charm to a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom.
To spice it up, replace a rung or two with wooden boxes, baskets or crates to create mixed material shelves. You can also decorate the rungs with hangs like tea towels or flower pots.
Shelves From Ladders
Ladders lend themselves perfectly for DIY shelving projects. They already have built-in frames, brackets and elongated shapes ideal for shelves. Here are some ladder shelf ideas:
Step Ladder Shelf
Keep an old step ladder intact but give it new life as a shelf. Lean the ladder against a wall with the steps facing out. Use the steps to hold books, vases, pots or baskets. Add hooks along the side rails for hanging items like headphones, aprons or tea towels.
Painting the ladder a bright color boosts its visual appeal. For extra stability, securely attach the back legs to the wall with brackets. A step ladder shelf is a great storage solution for an empty nook.
Open-Back Ladder Shelf
Cut out the back legs of a step ladder to create an open-backed ladder shelf you can hang on the wall like a picture. After removing the back legs, mount cleats or boards across each step to create surfaces to display items.
An open-backed ladder shelf nicely fills the space above doors. Angle it across a corner to utilize sloped ceilings. Use an extra-long ladder horizontally above a bed, sofa or counter for an industrial chic floating shelf.
Leaning Ladder Shelf
A ladder shelf can function as a freestanding piece when propped against a wall. Look for a sturdy wooden ladder with stabilizer bars on the back legs.
Lay the ladder at an angle against the wall and secure it by mounting the top rung into a stud. The angled positioning creates staggered shelves on the ladder steps from top to bottom. Leaning ladders work well as corner shelves or next to fireplaces.
Ladder Shelf Table
Here’s an unexpected way to repurpose a ladder – turn it into a shelf table by laying the ladder flat! Center the ladder over a table base or pair of sawhorses. The rungs become perfect little shelves and surfaces for displaying vases, books, candles and other decor.
Try topping the ladder shelves with a piece of glass or acrylic for one long display case. Use a step ladder for a taller table, or opt for a shorter extension ladder depending on the height you need.
Shelves From Pipes and Plumbing
Don’t toss those old pipes and plumbing parts – they can be reimagined into industrial style shelving. Some ideas:
Exposed Pipe Shelves
Use black or galvanized steel pipes with flanges to make clean-lined floating shelves with an urban edge. Cut the pipes to desired lengths and screw flanges to the ends. Mount them horizontally to the wall with pipe brackets.
Exposed pipe shelves have a minimalist, utilitarian aesthetic. They work well in modern and industrial spaces. Try incorporating additional details like hangers, wire baskets or Edison bulb lights.
Plumbing Pipe Shelves
Get creative with old valves, elbow joints and nipples from plumbing projects. Connect them together into unique pipe configurations to display on a wall, workbench or desktop.
Groupings of smaller pipes and fittings make great organizers for desktop supplies, makeup brushes, jewelry and more. Larger configurations can hold bulkier items like books, plants, baskets, or artwork.
Raw Steel Bar Shelves
Upcycle steel rebar or raw steel bars from the garage into sturdy shelves with an unfinished, machined look. The sections of steel bar need to be at least 0.5-1 inch thick to properly hold items.
Affix the steel bars into shelving formations using heavy-duty metal brackets attached into the wall studs. A black rubber coating helps protect the steel from further oxidizing. Steel bar shelves stand out in edgy, modern spaces.
Copper Pipe Shelves
Copper pipes bring beautiful warm metallic tones to shelves. Try incorporating:
- Straight shelves made from copper pipe sections.
- Geometric shapes and diagonal lines with copper elbow joints and T joints.
- Contrasting metals like matte black brackets.
Protect the copper with a sealant if used outdoors. Copper pipe shelves deliver visual appeal to bathrooms, kitchens and living spaces.
Shelves From Tools
Your toolbox also holds potential for creating customized shelves! Repurpose old rakes, shovels, levels, clamps and more into functional wall art. Some tool shelf ideas:
An old metal rake becomes the perfect shelf for lightweight items once mounted tines-down on the wall. Hang it as-is for a rustic look or spray paint the tines a bold color.
Adorn the tines with succulents, kitchen utensils, necklaces, scarves or washcloths. Place a few rakes in staggered rows and columns to form fun geometric shelving. Rakes make great prep area shelves for spices, oils and dried pasta.
Mount a sturdy old shovel horizontally on the wall with the scoop facing out to hold books, plants and curios. For extra support, drive screws up through the shaft into the wall.
An oversized garden shovel can corral towels in the bathroom or spices in the kitchen. Mini toy shovels create whimsical shelves for jewelry, office supplies or cigar storage in a man cave. Group shovels together for industrial wall art shelving.
Display bubble levels as quirky floating shelves or hanging wall accents. Most standard levels are around two feet long – the perfect single-serving shelf! Affix a level with brackets or directly into studs.
For extra flair, arrange the levels in geometric patterns or alternating directions. Brightly colored levels pop against bold walls. Levels help keep small items corralled in the office, garage, laundry and craft rooms.
A bar clamp’s shape is ideal for loosely organizing items like bottles, jars, soaps, utensils and more. Mount a sturdy metal bar clamp horizontally with the moveable rubber pads facing out. Slide the pads out to “clamp” down your items in place.
Clamp shelves lend an industrial, no-frills aesthetic. For extra visual interest, stagger clamps in offset rows with the pads extended to different widths. They make great “garage-style” storage in basements, sheds, workshops and laundry rooms.
Shelves From Hardware
Nails, hooks, metal brackets and other hardware can transform into cool display shelves when grouped together. Some ideas:
Magnetic Knife Strips
Usually made from wood, magnetic knife strips let you show off sharp kitchen knives while keeping them safely stowed away. You can buy strips, but they’re also easy to make using:
- Hardwood boards (or repurposed wood from the garage)
- Spaced out magnetic strips
- Waterproof wood finish
Simply glue magnetic strips across the wood boards, let dry, then apply waterproof finish. The wood grain gives magnetic knife displays rugged, rustic style that pops in farmhouse kitchens.
Make an eye-catching textured display by pounding rows of evenly spaced nails into a board, then mounting it horizontally like a ledge. The nail heads act as little shelves for displaying small items.
Try using different size nails like framing spikes or decorative upholstery nails. Painting the nails adds color pops. Nail shelves work great in the office for organizing desk supplies.
Add a row of sturdy metal clips or clothespins along the front of a wood shelf for hanging lightweight items like tea towels, necklaces and keys. Varying the clips creates visual interest.
Install the shelf tightly against the wall, then pre-screw clips into the underside lip spaced 2-3 inches apart. Clip shelves bring an industrial edge to kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and more.
Hook Plate Shelves
Covering a wood board in hooks creates an instant catch-all shelf for coats, hats, bags and leashes. Affix sturdy hooks to the board at staggered heights in an orderly formation.
For rustic style, use hooks made from bent nails, wire or scrap metal pieces. Or go modern with uniform brass cup hooks. Place hook plate shelves by the entryway, in the mudroom, garage or home office.
Shelves From Crates and Boxes
Wood and metal crates offer boxy shelf forms ready to display your stuff. Here are some tips for upcycling crates:
The go-to way to reuse old shipping crates is stacking them to form shelves. Try arranging them in cool patterns like:
- Stepped/staggered formations
- Vertical and horizontal orientations
- Alternating open and closed sides
Sand and stain mismatched crates for a consistent look. Crates stacked in decor styles like industrial, rustic and farmhouse.
Wall Box Shelves
For a more polished look, build a crate shelving unit right into the wall. Cut sections of the crate sides and screw them into wall studs in horizontal rows. This gives the illusion of boxes without the bulk of full crates.
Paint the crate wood different colors to create block-style floating cubbies. Wall box shelves deliver geometric charm and function.
Crate Ledge Shelves
Affix a single thick board 2-3 feet long on the wall as a crate “ledge.” Place shipping crates and wooden boxes on the ledge in an attractive arrangement.
The ledge shelf prevents you from having to permanently mount crates and allows you to rearrange the look. Go for an orderly formation or artfully overlap crates. Change up the crates seasonally to refresh the vignette.
Tiny vintage crates offer delicate shelving for lighter items like candles, plants, books, ceramics and collectibles. Look for crates no larger than a shoe box.
Mount them in clusters on the wall to create a “curio” shelf. For versatility, secure removable crate shelves onto decorative brackets or ledges. Mini crates add charm to bathrooms, bedrooms and living rooms.
Shelves From Salvaged Items
Almost any salvaged item from the garage, basement or attic can be creatively upcycled into shelves. Get inspired by these examples:
Old Cabinet Doors
Turn a salvaged wooden cabinet door into a floating shelf by mounting it horizontally on the wall. Center the door on brackets or directly onto cleats for support. Cabinet door shelves add nice detail and dimension.
Fun ways to use them:
- In the bathroom for rolled towels and toiletries.
- Mini doors mounted in a grid for cubby storage.
- As desk shelves for files and supplies.
Like old doors, antique shutters transform into elegant wall-mounted shelves. Look for larger, sturdy wooden shutters and remove any hardware. Use the slats like built-in shelves to display items behind the louvers.
Shutters bring vintage farmhouse character to kitchens, hallways and bedrooms. For a showstopping accent shelf, lean an extra-tall shutter against the wall.
Picture Frame Shelves
Picture frames already have a ledge built in—so why not use them for actual shelving? Mount vintage frames or unfinished canvas stretchers tight to the wall. They provide perfect little nooks for displaying small decor items.
Hang a series of matching frames as cubby storage. Oversized picture frames work great as bathroom shelves for toiletries. Get creative with mixing frame sizes, types and orientations.
One person’s old dresser is another’s shelving treasure! Salvage drawers from broken furniture pieces. Use brackets to mount them vertically or horizontally like floating cubbies.
Repurposed drawers contain items neatly and provide depth for display. Try using a variety of sized drawers—big ones for bath towels, small ones for jewelry—for eclectic shelving.
The fun of DIY garage shelving comes from the lack of rules or limits with using eclectic materials. But keep these basic design principles in mind:
Measure the Space
Take measurements of the overall area you want to install shelves, including wall dimensions, ceiling height, windows, and existing furniture. Know the space parameters so your shelves will fit properly.
Also measure the specific garage items destined to become shelves. List the dimensions, weight capacities, and any hardware needed for building/mounting.
Select Mounting Hardware
Most DIY garage shelves use brackets or cleats attached to wall studs for enhanced strength and stability. Select durable brackets rated to hold the shelf’s dimensions and weight.
For smaller shelves, try innovative mounts like rail systems or floating shelf pins that don’t require studs. Always use anchors for wall hardware.
The most interesting DIY garage shelves incorporate an eclectic mix of items, colors, textures, and materials. Don’t be afraid to blend wood, metal, glass, reclaimed items, and other media into the shelves.
Repeated elements like all-wood or all-metal shelves look too one-dimensional. Mix it up for personalized style!
Consider Weight Requirements
Know how much weight your garage shelves need to hold. Smaller, floating shelves typically hold 15 pounds or less. Medium duty shelves can hold 20-50 pounds for items like books and decor. Heavy duty shelves are rated for over 50 pounds.
Weight capacity depends on the strength of the shelf material, mounting method and brackets. Overloading shelves can cause dangerous sagging or collapse.
Add Visual Interest
Well-styled shelves include layers of textures, colors and materials that catch the eye. Consider adding:
- Painted accents
- Decorative brackets
- Bold backgrounds
- Contrasting materials
- Accent lighting
Artful vignettes and pops of color help garage shelves stand out as focal features.
Building Garage Shelves
Now for the fun part: rolling up your sleeves and actually constructing your dream garage shelves! Here is an overview of basic building steps:
Collect the items you’ll use to create your shelves, such as boards, ladders, crates, hardware, etc. Ensure you have the required quantities, correct dimensions, and proper mounting hardware.
Prepare the Materials
Many garage items need some prep work before becoming shelves. For example: sanding and