Building Between-Studs Shelving

If your home is built with studs and drywall, you can add cabinets or shallow shelves between the studs anywhere you need them. Because they are recessed and don't project into the wall, they won't take up any space.

Although these cabinets or shelves will be narrow in depth, they can be used for any of the following: a pantry in the kitchen, paperback shelves in bedrooms and family rooms, a second medicine cabinet or towel storage in the bathroom, shelves for stuffed animals in a child's room, or storage for hanging long tools, such as shovels and rakes, in the basement or garage. To build either a shelf space or cabinet, use the following tips:

  • Locate the studs with a stud finder. Make sure that no plumbing pipes or electrical wires are behind the space.
  • Lay out the dimensions of your planned storage on the wall. To avoid cutting through studs, plan your storage between the studs.
  • Turn off the power to the room you're working in.
  • Using a keyhole saw or saber saw, cut the wall opening along the layout lines. Go slowly and watch for electrical and plumbing lines. Then remove the drywall or plaster.
  • If you're creating storage wider than the space between two studs, you'll have to cut out the stud in the middle.
  • Cut two 2x4s to fit the top and bottom of the opening and nail them into the studs.
  • To finish an open storage unit, line the enclosure with wallboard or wood, and paint or wallpaper the opening. Ready-made laminated shelves are easy to install and easy to clean, but you can also make your own shelving. Trim the front edge with molding to hide the joints.
  • To make an enclosed recessed cabinet, you will need to buy a door the size of your opening and install a magnetic hinge inside a side panel.

Now let's conquer the last frontier: your garage. Storage tips for this space are in the next section.