Cheap DIY Nightstand – Shelf

You know when you’re in college and you accept free furniture from relatives, maybe find it cheap on craigslist, go through the garbage…. or whatever? Well I’ve slowly been getting rid of all of my crappy furniture that doesn’t match and isn’t in good condition anymore and I’ve been wanting to get rid of my blue college nightstand for a while now.

One of the hardest areas for me to keep clean is my nightstand. Every time I’m out shopping (THANKS  A LOT TARGET..) and I see a bottle of lotion I think “yeah I need that lotion,” or “why I don’t I buy all these little candles and put them on my nightstand.”

So basically I’ve been sleeping next to a pile of crap and 12 bottles of lotion every night. (For the record, I don’t even like any other brands of lotion besides aveeno so I don’t know why I keep kidding myself into trying other brands)

Okay enough about lotion, this is what my area used to look like. It’s almost too embarrassing to show you.


P.S. I would show you Mason’s nightstand area, but we don’t need to that place.

SO I wanted new nightstands, but I’m a teacher and Mason is in school so we’re not exactly slip-in-sliding through money like normal people yet.

Mason built a shelf behind our couch when we moved in and I figured we could probably do something similar for our beds for pretty cheap. This shelf cost us about 20 bucks when it was all said and done.


So after a little trip to home depot and some work we have nice, simple matching nightstands and the best part is that they don’t really have enough room to get messy!



Still working on ideas for a headboard!

Here is how we made our nightstand/shelf.


  • Wood, we used pine because it was cheap and easy to stain.. decide how long you want your shelfs to be and they will cut the wood for you at Home Depot
  • Metal or wood brackets
  • Screws
  • Drywall Anchors
  • Stain or paint
  • Polyurethane
  • Foam brush
  • Drill
  • Cats to help paint/decorate and judge you

1. Measure wall – decide how long and wide you want your shelf to be and go wood shopping


Look at you wood shopping!

2. Paint or stain wood

I decided to use a charcoal grey stain on my wood, if you decide to do an uncommon color (instead of a natural wood tone) like grey, green, blue, etc. you just have to have them mix it for you at home depot, I used Minwax. To stain the wood just follow the directions on the can, I apply stain with a foam brush because I feel it goes on smooth and it’s easier than cleaning my nice brushes. Let stain sit for a few minutes and then (with gloves) wipe stain off with rag, do this for 2 or 3 coats depending on how dark you want the stain.


Look at how bad Petrie wanted to come outside.. seriously though DON’T TRUST HIM EVER. I thought “oh he’ll probably just sit outside with me and we’ll have such a nice time.” Nope, within 2 seconds of him being outside he tried to eat the stain and I freaked out and basically cleaned his tongue off in the bathroom, then I forced him to drink water. It was really traumatic for both of us.


Look at the judgment in his eyes…

3. Seal wood

I sealed my wood with a clear gloss polyurethane, this is a step I wouldn’t skip for these shelves. Since you’ll be putting things on your nightstand and possibly have drinks on there, you want to make sure the wood is protected. Once again follow the directions on the can, make sure to spread the sealer on very thin. If you get any bubbles you can usually brush them out while they’re still wet or sand them out when it’s dry. It’s better to do more thin coats than to try to have a very heavy bubbly top coat.

4. After the wood is nice and dry, drill brackets into shelf

Mason measured the shelf first to find an even place to put the brackets, then he marked where they were going to go and made sure they matched on both shelves. Our shelf was 26 inches total so we had the brackets 6 inches off of each edge.

First we used a drill bit to drill tiny pilot holes (go in shallow here), this is so that when you start to drill the brackets in you have a starting point. Then you can drill the screws right into the wood, here is a picture of the screws, anchors and and the brackets.

5. Measure how far from the ground you want your shelf and mark on wall with level.

This might seem like a simple step to some, but when Mason brought out the level I literally asked him why we needed a level. Thank god he was there to do this part because when I hang things it usually involves about 5 holes before it’s perfect. Who knew a level would come in handy in life?

Once you have that all marked on the wall you’re ready to put the shelf up! Woo good job!

Side note, make sure you do a good job on this next part because your cat will sit there silently judging you. IMG_20160710_115659

6. Drill holes in wall and put in drywall anchors

Make sure you anchor your shelf so that it doesn’t fall down at 2 AM in the morning and scare the shit out of you. Just drill holes where you previously marked and hammer or push in anchors.

7. Drill screws into shelf, enjoy


Once the anchors are nice and ready you can drill the screws through the brackets into the wall!

Then decorate as you like, enjoy your shelves and maybe take a nap!


Ahh nice and clean, Littlefoot sort of approves.


Thanks for reading, let me know what you think!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s