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Space-Saving Corner Shelves

Next time you're staring at the wall, wondering how best to organize your things, avert your gaze 45 degrees and take a look in the corner. A single shelf or several that fit into the corner of a room can open up a world of possibilities.




Tip: Choose a vertically symmetrical shape: A classic outline, such as the urn pictured, will suit a living room, while butterfly wings or the base of a rocket ship will cheer up a child's bedroom.


  • Corner-shelf template
  • Inspiration image for table base
  • Brown kraft paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • 4 pieces 1/2-inch-thick plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF)
  • Jigsaw
  • String
  • Hand sander and sandpaper
  • Wood glue
  • Wood screws
  • Wood primer
  • Paint
  • Hand drill
  • 3 1-inch angle brackets


  1. Step 1

    To make the corner-shelf base, trace image (from a magazine or book) onto paper and enlarge it to desired size, or download and print out our template. When templates require enlargement beyond the capabilities of a photocopier or printer, use the grid method.

  2. Step 2

    Draw a grid on the inspiration image. Decide on the size of your urn base. Then, using a ruler, draw a grid that size on kraft paper, proportionate to the grid on the original, with the same number of squares. Finally, draw the outline of the urn in the corresponding squares on the grid.

  3. Step 3

    Cut out design, and fold it in half vertically; cut along the fold to create the two halves of the pattern. With a pencil, trace onto two pieces of 1/2-inch-thick plywood or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), making one side 1/2 inch wider on the inside edge. Cut out with a jigsaw.

  4. Step 4

    For the tabletop, compute its side lengths: the width of the top of the shorter part of the base plus 2 inches. On another piece of plywood or MDF, mark this length on both sides of one corner. For the curve, use a pencil tied to a string as a compass. Cut out the wedge with a jigsaw, and sand.

  5. Step 5

    Using wood glue and wood screws, attach base pieces together at a right angle.

  6. Step 6

    Prime and paint the base and top.

  7. Step 7

    If you have baseboard on your wall, cut two strips of plywood or MDF (that are as thick as the baseboard) so they're 2 inches shorter than the width of one side of the base. Drill two holes in each strip; using appropriate hardware, screw the strips into the wall horizontally just under where the base's top will be, so they'll be hidden. Screw the base into the strips and baseboard (if you don't have baseboard, attach directly to the wall).

  8. Step 8

    Glue the tabletop to the top of the base; secure it with three 1-inch angle brackets.

Martha Stewart Living, October 2004



Reviews (8)

  • Sheryll 30 Oct, 2010

    I hope to do the shelves in two corners of my bedroom and no decorative support under them, so that I can move my bed completely under the shelves to vacuum. till I get the hardwood floors that I so want and don't have to move my bed to vacuum under it ever again!! I will either use 1 x 2 firring strips or maybe plywood for the entire backing, so no dusting behind them ever again!!!

  • Crystelc 21 Oct, 2009

    . When I first looked at this cute corner creation, I thought the side base pieces against the wall were actually painted on the wall, Then a wall shelf with a corner bracket was added on top of table painted base.

  • abir 6 Nov, 2008

    its a great idea especialy how to use empty area

  • Pamasaurus 3 Nov, 2008

    It'd be really cool to set the urn used as the traced image as the object on top of the shelf. A still-life silhouette of sorts.

  • earthtokaren 28 Oct, 2008

    I really liked this idea. I never have enough space. Really cute idea.

  • earthtokaren 28 Oct, 2008

    I really liked this idea. I never have enough space. Really cute idea.

  • tsoave 27 Oct, 2008

    I agree Alabaxter. And, I'd just faux paint the base!

  • Alabaxter 27 Oct, 2008

    I'm thinking this isn't enough room - so why not just duplicate/triplicate it all the way up the wall for 3-4 shelves?