Pipe shelves

This is a story about how we turned our bridal show booth:


Into some awesome pipe shelves (inspired by The Brick House among other)

… thus erasing the Corner of Shame (seen below). If you didn’t follow my short lived personal blog, let me fill you in. Hubster and I moved into our St. Louis condo in April. We absolutely loved the open floor plan. The main living space is huge and lended itself well to having assigned quadrants: kitchen, dining, living room and other. We kicked around several ideas for the “other” quadrant and finally fell in love with the idea of very tall pipe shelves. But we needed time and money to make them (more so time than money, but any cheap home project is a win in my book). Plus we had gobs of random stuff that really didn’t have a home in our new storage-is-tight condo. So the corner of shame was born out of necessity. It held whatever random decor we had yet to review after our move, a shed and a rotating number of furniture pieces that were either coming or going.


During a bridal show in July we decided that we really needed a new booth. We loved that our current one broke down to almost nothing (hello pile of pipes) but we were just ready for something new. Then we had a lightbulb moment! We could use that pipe for the shelves we had been lusting after. The idea got bonus points because we’d be able to save quite a few George Washingtons Benjamin Franklins by not buying ALL of the pipe. So the booth came home and the pile of pipe was enough motivation to get started… because who wants to walk by this every day? Not me.



We sorted the pipe to figure out what lengths and joints we had and then we spent nearly an entire Saturday in front of the computer designing. I have to pause here and tell you that I LOVE InDesign and while I’m sure there are actual architectural type software programs out there, I totally made InDesign work for this project. We started with a vague idea of what we wanted and, of course, made it harder on ourselves by not settling for evenly spaced shelves (boring!).


Not spacing shelves evenly leads to a LOT of math… like 6 hours worth of math. But eventually we had this:


After a trip to Lowe’s the real party got started. While Hubster cut shelves and drilled holes and did a LOT more math, I de-greased and washed all of the pipe and fittings. A few doll rods cut into pieces and drilled into some scrap wood yielded the perfect painting mechanism for all those parts and pieces.


Once the shelves were cut we tried stacking them to make sure the holes lined up… which really didn’t tell usĀ  much. A real dry run would have been way too much work so we trusted Hubster’s math skills and set to whitewashing (which is really easy!).


And like any rational adult couple… we did all of this in one week. My parents were coming over for dinner on Saturday and we hoped to have the condo back in some sort of shape. We certainly weren’t worried about impressing them… it’s just easier to walk around when there isn’t black pipe and white washed shelves laying everywhere.

At this point we were nervous that we wouldn’t even be able to assemble the shelves with just the two of us. I envisioned myself in some sort of insane yoga pose holding several of the legs steady while Hubster built above me. Our fall back plan was to invite my parents to a shelf building party following dinner.

But the bases were pretty sturdy. PS: We’re renting so we couldn’t drill into the floor. We covered the bottom of each base with no-stick pads that we cut to fit.


And the next layer was sturdy too… and the holes were lining up.
Before long we got the ladder out for the tricky tall shelves. Those worked too…


Finally we scooted the shelves to their final placement and Hubster added some heavy duty anchors and screws.


Boom! Shelves. Despite me eagerness to style away, Hubster wisely suggested that we wait until the morning to add some color.


I LOVE these shelves! They brought some much needed height to that corner of our world, plus they gave us some space to showcase and store things, like cookbooks, an awesome modern lamp, some clear bottles that double as vases, and the best globe in the entire world.

Hello sexy! Yes my obsession with maps and globes is unhealthy. Thankfully Hubster does not have the same affliction so he helps me keep it in check. But this gem even got his stamp of approval. It was the mid-century base that did him in. If I can only have one globe I’m totally fine with this being THE ONE (ok, technically I have a globe bank that he gave me that was supposed to go to work with me but hasn’t quite made it there).


We also built a desk into the shelves so Hubster has a place to restore Polaroid cameras in the evening. A chair from the table migrates over for those occasions.


And there you have it. Bridal show booth turned awesome pipe shelves.

Derren - October 31, 2011 - 2:47 am

This is amazing you guys! Well done!! We need to hire you to come do some renovating at our place :-). Can’t wait to see the finished product in person!

renee - October 31, 2011 - 4:37 am

So Awesome!!! I love that this is something a renter can do.

hhawes - November 3, 2011 - 3:10 pm

Thanks! Lol! Maybe we can add a home decoration arm of Hawes Photography ;)

hhawes - November 3, 2011 - 3:11 pm

Thanks! It’s definitely renter friendly. Plus it’s so versatile that it can be easily moved and redesigned for a new space.

Mat Lien - August 11, 2014 - 9:37 am

These are great! So did you actually bolt these in anywhere or are they just leaning against the wall?

ModernMealsForTwo - August 11, 2014 - 6:32 pm

Thanks, Mat. We did screw the shelves in at the top of the wall.

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