Knitwear designer / shelf builder

When I moved my workspace out of my flat I took down the long shelves that had been above my desk. 

That setup turned into our packing station / dumping area for stuff we haven’t yet found a place for at the studio and for a while I enjoyed the expanse of open wall. However, the minimalism of an empty wall is rather negated if you have haphazard piles of stuff on all flat surfaces including the floor, so I started planning some new shelving. My main goal was to keep the feeling of airiness. I considered the String shelving system, and although it’s not terribly expensive as furnishing goes the price once I started putting all of the components together was a bit offputting. Especially as I really wanted to replace my existing sewing desk with something less flimsy but simpler that would be visually part of the shelving system. I liked the String desk, but including it on my crumbly walls definitely meant I’d need to use the floor standing side panels, and then my deep skirting boards presented a problem. They’re in no way as simply elegant as the String design, but I’d seen these Ikea brackets used in other homes and thought with a bit of work they could create the look I wanted. 

My plan was to do three shelves of varying lengths with the longest at the top and the shortest at the bottom. The bracket only comes in that triple configuration and there aren’t any single or double ones that really coordinated. But I figured I could cut one into shorter pieces. My brother gave (loaned if someone comes along who wants to pay for it?) me this amazing, and large, painting a few months ago.

Once it was hung I scaled back my plans for the shelves, which turned out to be fortunate as hanging the lower piece of the cut up bracket was looking complicated – I might have been able to drill a hole but it wouldn’t have matched the others and I wasn’t certain it would hold together. With just one long shelf I could use only the piece with the hole at the top. 

All of the Ikea shelves that fit these brackets are veneered, nice and lightweight but I really wanted something that would age better without the edges getting messy. This is where my nice simple plan fell apart and turned into an excellent example of how not to do something. I was already going to ikea and larger table that is right by this corner has a butcher block top so I started thinking about cutting up a worktop to make the shelves. As a bonus it would leave me with enough to make a small desktop. I swear it seemed it would fit through the brackets when I measured it but once I cut the shelves it was instantly clear that they were never going to go through the brackets. The sensible decision at that point would have been either to return the brackets (except that they probably don’t take returns of things you’ve cut in two with a hacksaw) or get new wood.

The decision I actually made was to make the shelves thinner. Without a large table saw that involved a combination of a cutting in from each side with a smaller circular saw and hand-planing. A lot of hand-planing. I had to buy the plane, but at some point in this process that seemed cheaper and more logical than buying a large saw I don’t have space for or tracking down someone with a workshop I could use. This entire project can be summed up with: “well I’ve gotten this far, might as well continue”…. “I really wish I’d changed direction back then”.

My instagram feed shows how many evenings I spent working on these, and how questionable it seemed:

But eventually, three or so months after my brother first helped me put the brackets up, they are up, and they look exactly as I was hoping they would. I’m even managing to embrace the uneveness where I chose getting them in the brackets over a perfectly even width as part of their handmade charm. 

A little rounding with a dremel multi-tool (which was a present from my dad when I was a kid and which I just tracked down in my mum’s garage – so happy to be reunited with it!) and some spray paint and I don’t think you can tell that the single bracket started out as a triple one. 

Once I attach the legs to the remaining piece of the worktop (have to spraypaint them first, because again – can’t do anything the easy way) the desk will go there. A little home for my sewing machine. I’m sure the things on the shelves will undergo a lot of rearranging as the rest of the room comes together, but I was too excited not to put a few things up there.