office makeover: rope shelves

I've had this idea tucked away in my "someday" file, and I finally had that eureka! moment last fall when I reorganized my living room.
At that point, I was moving some shelves from our office to the living room, but I still needed something to house a few books and decorative pieces.

I always like to start with the end result and then walk you through the process, so here's what it looks like after installing it late last night!

This was a relatively easy project- patience was the key factor in putting this together.
Here's how it started.
I purchased two 4 feet x 12" wide boards, 20 feet of rope, some plant hooks, and a 3/8" dowel.

The first thing was drilling holes in the boards for the rope to go through. 
I used a 7/8" bit, and drilled 1 1/2" from the edges.

I sanded down the edges and around the holes, and then painted the boards.  This was my first mistake.

I was inspired by the new year and was riding the wave that so many DIY and decor bloggers are saying for the New Year... "be brave!  Try something new!  Go for it!  Be bold!"

um. not so much. 

I thought the orange would be a great pop of color for the room and be a "wow".
It definitely was a wow- for all the wrong reasons.
I could have sanded it all down and started over- I chose just to go back to the lumber section
and get some new boards. 
Maybe I'll make some Halloween signs with these later on!
hee hee!
Instead of orange, I decided to do a white wash and added in a tiny bit of black paint to give it that touch of gray.  A little more beachy. I like that you can still see the knots and wood grain.

Once the paint was dry, I had my husband help me install the plant brackets.  We did all the necessary measuring so that it was centered; checked to make sure the length of the ropes would be stopping where we wanted, etc.  At this point there was a lot of back and forth of holding up the shelves, looping some of the rope around the brackets.

Once the hooks were installed, I began threading the rope through the holes and figuring out how far apart I wanted the top shelf from the bottom.  Ultimately, I got a regular hard back book to see if I was headed in the right direction.
I found it was easiest to do this with the shelves on it's side, on the floor.  There's quite a bit of adjusting and it's not easy to do when you have it hanging.
(...this is when you have that extra dose of patience I talked about earlier)
Next, I cut the 3/8" dowel into two inch pieces. These would become the supports for the upper shelf.
As you can see in the picture below, it's easier to thread the rope with the ends taped off- I just used painter's tape.
Putting a knot in the end of the rope (I left about 6 inches of "tail" for fraying the ends)
I then measured 12" between the boards and used the cut dowel pieces, pushing the dowel through the twists of the rope.  Again, not hard, it just takes a few adjustments here and there.
I also cut the rope into it's two final pieces- a length for each side.  At this point I would hang it up, see what adjustments needed to be made to the knots under the bottom shelf or the dowel supports, and take it back down to work on it on the floor (so the rope wasn't tight and hard to maneuver.)
Then I put the rope shelf up, used my level to do the final bit of adjusting, and it's done!
The last bit is to unwind the ends of the rope for the frayed edge:
Here are the shelves finished and installed:
I'll be adding the few books and accessories on here shortly, but most of that will be finalized when the room is nearing completion.
Here was the before:
and the after:
I am so happy with it!  If it sounds complicated, I promise, it's not. 
If you want to see the simple tutorial I used, you can find it here.

Here was my cost break down:
  • rope: 63 cents a foot (I bought 20 feet) $12.60
  • plant brackets: $3.83 each
  • pre cut pine boards: $6.48 each
  • dowel: 60 cents
  • I already had the flat white interior paint on hand.
Just under $34 for the project!
(and if you're like me, and you mess up and re-buy the boards, you can figure that cost in- I didn't)

I think this would look great in a cowboy/cowgirl kid's room, or in a bathroom like the photo here:

My next project for the office is recovering the chair.  I got this at a rummage sale two summers ago for $5.
I really like the fabric on it now, but I am also planning on a small area rug underneath it, and it also has stripes-  it's just too much. 
I was never very happy with how the back turned out, so that's my reasoning for the redo.
I had some off white duck cloth from a previous curtain project
(I dubbed them the curtains from hell...)
so that's what will be used for the slipcover!
I hope you found some inspiration in my project!
Stay tuned for the area rug and slipcover.
I will be sharing this with these link parties!


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WhisperWood Cottage


  1. Your shelves turned out awesome! Fun reading your comments too, gave me some laughs. :)

  2. This is beautiful! I am speechless. Great work!

  3. They really turned out great.

  4. What a clever idea! Looks great! I just came across your blog, and I'm your newest follower!

  5. Denise,
    I LOVE's very "COOL" looking!!! Thanks so much for sharing this at NTT!!!


  6. I love it! Like love it I HAVE to try it :)

  7. Wow - absolutely fabulous!!! Love them!!

  8. Great idea, I love it!! It really adds character to the room!

  9. It came out beautifully! Fits your house well...

  10. What a fun idea and perfect for adding a little bit of a beachy feel to a room. We're still in the planning stages of our basement project but in my mind I have it decorated in a beach theme. I'll have to remember these, they are such a fun and inexpensive way to add a little decorative space!

  11. Oh my gosh! I have been trying to figure out the logistics of hanging one of these ever since I saw a table sized one filled with about 20 candles at our local Pottery Barn. I wanted to help a friend with this to go above her TV. So glad you showed the specifics. Great idea of the dowel and metal hooks.
    Thanks for visiting my blog. My studio is a dusty aqua, especially gray looking today since it's raining outside. Great blog you have!
    ~ Autumn

  12. Oh my goodness this is a fantastic idea!!! I am planning on redoing my room over the summer and I definitely want to incorporate this into the design! YOU ROCK! :)


  13. OMG I love this! we have a tiny house and can't afford much but this would be PERFECT!!!
    I am your newest follower from handmade blog hop! I hope you will follow me back!

  14. Wow, that's awesome. Submit this to apartment therapy.

  15. Fabulous! I appreciate the tutorial. And I look forward to your chair and rug projects! Please consider linking up to my 1st Project of the Year Party, which starts on Jan. 11.

  16. Thank you for all the tips. It looks great!

  17. Fantastic project. Very unique and chic!

  18. Omigosh Denise! What a great project...I love that! I have this weird window that I sorta want to conceal but not close coz it brings light. I may use your bookcase on a rope idea for that. Thanks!

    Stopping by from Feathered Nest Friday. Happy weekend!

  19. What an adorable shelf.

    I am visiting from the CSI project. I am numbers 86,87,88, and 89.

    Cheri from and

  20. Hi Denise~love this! What a fantastic idea-just love how those shelves came out. They are beautiful and are so perfect for the space-Well done! Thanks for sharing at my party! :)

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  22. Very cool...very creative...I like it! ~Deb~

  23. Love it! The frayed ends really give it a great touch!

  24. Coolest take on rustic shelving ever! I may have to steal this one. :) LOVE it and yes, I'd have this in my home in a heartbeat.


  25. I love these, now where should I put them! Visiting from FJI, can't wait to go to look at more posts and see what happened to your chair. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Please stop by my blog for a visit I am having a big giveaway.

    :) Michelle


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