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Suspended Shelf

Houdini wasn't the only one who could work magic using a length of chain. Read on for an easy way to conjure the stylish illusion of a space-saving suspended shelf with showstopping appeal.




Resources: "Lack" shelf, 3/16-inch brass chain,


  • Drill
  • Floating shelf
  • Four 2-inch loop hooks
  • Plumb bob
  • Screw anchors
  • Decorative chain (length based on your measurements)


  1. Step 1

    Drill holes in the shelf's two outer corners, 1 inch in from both edges. (The holes should be slightly smaller than the screw ends of the loop hooks.) Screw a hook into each hole.

  2. Step 2

    Attach shelf to the wall, following the manufacturer's instructions.

  3. Step 3

    Dangle a plumb bob -- or a house-key tied to a length of string -- from the ceiling until the tip just touches the loop hooks in the shelf. Mark the ceiling there and drill holes for screw anchors, tapping them in with a hammer. Screw in two remaining hooks.

  4. Step 4

    Measure the distance from ceiling hooks to shelf hooks, and purchase (or cut) two lengths of chain to fit.

  5. Step 5

    Hang the lengths of chain between each pair of hooks, and step back to revel in your own sleight of hand.

Blueprint, January/February 2008



Reviews (34)

  • Sheryll 30 Oct, 2010

    It is an illusion shelf.....hello out there? It is a creative idea and a great one I believe. You can use pink braided ribbons for a little girls room. I am thinking I will use this in my bedroom bathroom and instead of a chain, I will use grosgrain ribbon with shells glued on them, along with the shells around my mirror. After all I live in FLORIDA and I think it is a great illusion idea!!!

  • carabau 15 Apr, 2010

    Liberace says the only thing missing is a candelabra!

  • PattiL 15 Apr, 2010

    Ah, toni14, are you channeling me? ;) Not all of the ideas I see here work EXACTLY for me, but they're often a great jumping-off point for other ideas -- and when I saw this one, I immediately envisioned a nautical/beachy theme, including your suggestion of sisal rope, and hey, how about a ship's wheel mirror? And soft greens are among my favorite colors. :)

  • inajam 15 Apr, 2010

    I was floored to find that this was a recommendation from the MSL staff. This is a hugely tacky, ugly, oh-my-goodness-the-worst-of-the-60s-lives project. Not in my house. Not even in my tool shed!

  • toni14 15 Apr, 2010

    I am happy some people like this, but I agree with the Elvis comment. The colors are hideous and not at all like the usual "classy and quiet" Martha Stewart tones. Perhaps white with soft greens and an sisal rope instead of gold chain.

  • snowbirdling 15 Apr, 2010

    I love this, so unique and clever. Using it in my apt!

  • snowbirdling 15 Apr, 2010

    I love this, so unique and clever. Using it in my apt!

  • BoSoxMom 15 Apr, 2010

    Who was the assistant on this one...Elvis? No way that is going in my house!

  • BoSoxMom 15 Apr, 2010

    Who was the assistant on this one...Elvis? No way that is going in my house!

  • metaphor 15 Apr, 2010

    Besides which, it is very unattractive.

  • V6YMsQ 27 Jan, 2009

    Come on guys - this is from Blueprint and their target market (which included me) is not the same as the one for regular old Living (which is, I guess, some of you) :)

  • V6YMsQ 27 Jan, 2009

    Come on guys - this is from Blueprint and their target market (which included me) is not the same as the one for regular old Living (which is, I guess, some of you) :)

  • GwenHex 23 Jan, 2009

    I had no idea what a plumb bob was. i have only seen it on the Sims

  • time4home 23 Jan, 2009

    I love the corny and the over the top shabby shik but this is a flash back to the pole lamps of my youth, yucky, I just istalled some cool floating shelves from IKEA way contemporary and provide contrast to my eclectic mix in the room, I hate seeing any brackets on shelves except in my basement, so this was perfect for me,
    come on Martha you are better than this bring back vintage classic MSL

  • Allie from Albany 23 Jan, 2009

    Stringing flowers thought the chain loops sounds both tacky and lovely at the same time. I like tacky stuff. When I visited apartments in Carlsbad CA, I saw a bathroom arrangement in one of the show-bathrooms where they had strung up garlands of flowers and strings of artificial pearls. I thought the overall effect was very pretty. Others might find it over-the-top, but I am no fan of understatement.

  • desta 22 Jan, 2009

    I agree with Vjudd. Some small english ivy running through it, or some type of floral decor. It would go nicely in a little girls' princess room or perhaps in a bathroom above a garden tub. Good idea Vjudd. : )

  • desta 22 Jan, 2009

    I think it as a nice and creative idea. I don't think that I would use the bulky brass chain myself, but it is very nice.

  • Vjudd 22 Jan, 2009

    you could thread fake roses or flowers through the chain??? could be shabby chic or tacky???

  • AmyLauren86 22 Jan, 2009

    Probably just having a plain suspended shelf without the chain would look much better.

  • BarbaraBowen 22 Jan, 2009

    I have have to agree with most of the comments I've read on this one. Not a very pretty idea, and not something I can see Martha using in her home.

  • GeorgieF 22 Jan, 2009

    Ick. Tacky. And all the styling in the photo looks like something straight out of JR's living room.... Brass, mauve, white plastic.... I agree with Juliesong1, sleek cable system would look bette. Anything other than bulky brass..

  • gekkolisa 22 Jan, 2009

    I thought it was attractive except for the hardware you are going to see from the bottom of the shelt, but the most important part is what MIDDLEKID said. You elbow those chains and you've got a major construction repair project on your hands. It's like that table cut in half, not useful enough.

  • ljk001 22 Jan, 2009

    oh boy, what a mess -- come on Martha! floating shelf is one thing, but icky (and useless) chain looks like a garage sale reject

  • susanrits 22 Jan, 2009

    Actually, it really is $60 per yard for the chain. I just checked the link.

  • designs08 22 Jan, 2009

    A really bad idea........

  • middlekid 22 Jan, 2009

    This looks like a disaster! Not only is it unsightly, but one errant little whack with an elbow would send everything on it flying....several times a day. If those candles were lit....I shudder to think!

  • rachel2035 22 Jan, 2009

    to kimattb:

    go toi the ikea website to see the "shelves" listed as "lake" there are about 20 in different colours as well as shapes. i have no idea where i would go to actually find $60.00 chain...i think it was probably a booboo and she meant $6.00. rachel

  • Juliesong1 22 Jan, 2009

    That would look great with either a sleek cable system instead of the chains, or some other kind of rope or silk cord, because the shelf is also supported by the brackets underneath.

  • westshoe 22 Jan, 2009

    This would be good out here in Calif, you can see when the Earthquakes happen. Ha Ha

  • kimattb 22 Jan, 2009

    I think if it was painted and maybe use something besides the chain.....that chain is nasty looking.

  • trishcortani 22 Jan, 2009

    I did not like this when I first set eyes on it, but I have to say it is interesting. I think it is borderline tacky, but very vogue and stylish. I don't think this belongs in the home, but maybe more so a small shop or stylish clothing store? This is definitely not a normal MS piece, and I could never see her using this in her home.

  • galfromwi 22 Jan, 2009


  • cheweymom 22 Jan, 2009

    This is beyond tacky to me! Certainly not up to Martha Steward standards!!!

  • lbuser 22 Jan, 2009

    Since the chain won't actually be holding up the shelf - floating shelves are designed to hold whatever is placed on them, within reason and based on the shelf specs - I think $60 per yard is a bit pricey and decorative chain is available for far less money at most hardware stores. I LOVE this idea, however, it is very striking. My mind is racing to find somewhere to put one of these in my house.