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How to Build Window Treatments

How to Build Plant Shelves for a Window

The frame is designed to fit over the window frame, with shelves set back a few inches from the glass.

Make your plants happy even as you add interest to a window when you build this set of plant shelves. Build these sturdy shelves to fit and you can fill any window with greenery and color.


  • measuring rule
  • pencil
  • handsaw or power saw
  • carpenters' square
  • drill
  • screwdriver
  • hammer
  • paintbrush


  • 1 × 8, 1 × 6, and 1 × 2 pine stock
  • carpenters' glue
  • #8 flathead wood screws
  • 3-penny finishing nails
  • sandpaper
  • stain or paint
  • shelf brackets with screws
  • angle irons with screws

Time: about 2 to 4 hours, plus finishing timeThese plant shelves are designed to fit a window 36 inches wide and 48 inches long. To fit other window sizes, alter measurements and materials to fit each window. Be sure to take measurements from the outside edge of the window frame so you keep the shelves a few inches from the windowpanes -- direct contact with the glass can damage plants in very cold weather.


To begin the project, cut two 49 1/2-inch pieces of 1 × 8 pine stock for the sides of the shelf frame assembly, and cut two 36-inch pieces of 1 × 8 for the top and bottom. Then cut three 36-inch pieces of 1 × 6 pine for the shelves. To make shelf supports, cut six 5 1/2-inch pieces of 1 × 2 pine. Use a carpenters' square to keep your cuts even.

Lay out the boards for the top, sides, and bottom of the frame on a flat working surface, on edge, with the top and bottom boards butted between the side boards. Apply a bead of carpenters' glue to the board edge at each joint, and join the frame pieces. Then, for each joint, drill three pilot holes for three #8 flathead wood screws. Secure each corner of the frame assembly with three screws.

On the inside face of one side piece, mark the positions for three shelf supports. Measuring from the bottom of the frame, make marks 8 inches, 16 inches, and 32 inches from the bottom. Or, if desired, add shelves or vary the spacing to suit your needs.

Place the shelf supports over the marks, with their ends flush with the edges of the sides. Drive in three 3-penny finishing nails to secure each support. Measure and mark the locations for the shelf supports on the opposite side, and repeat the procedure for fastening them in position.

When the frame is assembled, stain or paint the frame and the shelves as desired, and let the stain or paint dry completely, as directed by the manufacturer.

To install the shelves, locate the wall studs at the sides and center of the window. Position a shelf bracket against each stud, 3/4 inch below the window frame. Mark the locations for bracket screws on the wall. Drill pilot holes for the screws, and then fasten the brackets to the wall studs with the screws provided.

Set the shelf frame on the wall brackets, and mark the locations for bracket screws under the frame. Drill pilot holes into the frame, and fasten the frame to the brackets.

Position three angle irons -- one at each corner and one between them -- on top of the frame. Mark the locations for screw holes in the top of the frame and into the wall studs. Drill pilot holes for the screws, and fasten the angle irons to the frame and wall.

Secure the top of the frame with angle irons at the wall studs; then set shelves across the support brackets.

To complete the windowframe plant shelves, set a shelf on each pair of shelf supports and add plants.

Continue to the next page for instructions on another way to display plants in a window: a windowbox.

For more ideas on window-related projects, see:

  • How to Repair Windows: Get the tips and instructions you need to correct common problems and keep your windows in good working order.
  • How to Clean Windows: Dirty windows are a big detraction, so follow these directions to keep your glass panes shiny and clear.
  • Kitchen Window Treatments: The kitchen is often the center of a home, so windows there need a special look. Choose the perfect treatment for a warm and welcoming atmosphere.