Teen Boy Bedroom Workspace & DIY Shelf

Why is it that the middle of any room update is always the hardest? Maybe it is just me, but that is where I slow down and things seem to really lull. Maybe that is also why most of the rooms in our home are incomplete.

I always start out strong with big ambitions and ideas and then I get to the blank slate part and become a deer in headlights. You can see more of the blank slate photos of our son’s room in this post here. It can be frustrating at times, but it is probably better that I allow myself to take these rooms at a snail’s pace. I have never been one to pull off a room that I love with longevity if I race to the finish line.

In our son’s room, I got stuck on such an odd detail, and that was the shelf to install over his new desk. I tried three options before I landed on the right one so I felt a lot of thankfulness for nice return policies! (In case you are curious about the shelves I checked out for the space, they were this one, this one, and this one.) After holding each one up and also asking my son to offer up his opinion, we decided that maybe we would be better off finding one that matched the stain in the nearby DIY wall map, which tends to be the main focus in the room.

Why was a shelf important? Well, my goal is to give my son a workspace that is easy to keep wide open and clear of clutter. He tends to be more productive and efficient when he is free of distractions and has simple organization. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

So, a shelf not only would add a nice decorative touch to the space, it would also function as a place to toss some of those extra office supplies that tend to land on a desk. When the other shelves didn’t feel right, I found these and used them as our inspiration to DIY something. We needed something that was a good depth for holding books and boxes, but not too deep that it felt heavy and out of place.

We already had a pair of the 7 1/2″ EKBY shelf brackets from IKEA, so I thought it would be quick and easy to just head to the hardware store and grab a piece of standard lumbar to stain. I took the brackets with me only to realize that the common boards are generally a 3/4″ thickness, and the brackets really needed something closer to an inch thick. I searched the store for something that would be a better fit, and then I remembered that I had used a stair tread with these types of brackets in the past. YES! Not what you might typically think of or go to, but it makes the perfect shelf option. Not only are they the correct thickness, they are also strong and sturdy and shouldn’t bow easily.

The obvious solution may have been to pair and IKEA EKBY shelf with these EKBY brackets, but they didn’t offer a finish that we were trying to achieve.

My favorite projects are ones that I can do quickly and easily with little to no help or money, and this one checked all of those boxes!

I began with the following supplies, many which I already had on hand from previous DIY projects.

The first step was to measure and cut the stair tread down to size. I opted to remove the rounded edge of the tread to square off the shelf completely and leave it the full 48″ width.
After preconditioning the wood (I use this), I gave the board two coats of a dark walnut toned stain.

I also gave the shelf brackets a nice coat of flat black spray paint (this kind is my favorite).

The tread shelf is a nice and tight fit into the bracket, in fact, I ended up sanding it down just a smidge and using a rubber mallet to really secure the two together. Then it was as simple as using some drywall anchors and long black screws to install it on the wall.

As you can see, I also added some additional wall organization. He generally has some work-in-progress papers and reminders that I wanted to store in a wall pocket, so I dug out our old daily system pieces and spray painted them gray and black to better suit his room (I originally purchased them here years ago in the ivory finish, the two pieces used are this one and this one). The pockets hold his papers and Chromebook, while the adjoining piece coralls a few of his desk accessories and supplies.

On the shelf, I added an inexpensive box (which is a really great size for most shelves above a desk) with an adhesive label holder. Inside are all of his random homework supplies that he may need to reach for from time to time.

I know Letterboards are the new trendy chalkboard, but you guys, my teenage boy totally digs it! He loves looking up quotes and using it to express his current mood, and I love seeing how it changes and reflects his personality. I found his here for a great price and used a small tin to hold all of the extra letters.

He selected a soft swivel chair from our local Marshalls (similar), and the combination of it all has been many thumbs up by all of us.

The sliding closet door is our last big project for this room and we have been trying to come up with the best wood selection based on the larger size, but I think we have a pretty good plan and can’t wait to get it done.

I am glad that we found our goldilocks of shelves, the small details in a room are what make it all come together in the end. And I always get discouraged when it takes me multiple tries to source something, especially basic items, but I really wanted to share because I know a lot of you have mentioned feeling the same way in the past. Decorating definitely comes easier to some than others, but keep at it and don’t settle until your gut tells you it’s right.

Oh! And this room has made me want to paint 100 more ceilings.

You know I love a good chit chat, so tell me, what is something that took you at least three times of trying before you found “the one”.

You can catch up on the entire room update by checking out the closet plans here, how we patched the wall removal here, some nifty drawer dividers here, and the blank slate here.


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