DIY: Over Stove Spice Shelf

Over stove spice shelf

SPICES. Kind of hate to love them. Oh, I mean, spices totally make or break a meal. But good LORD - does anything get you more peeved than trying to retrieve a spice from the back of your cupboard?

At my old apartment in the TenderNob, I kept my small amount of spices on the windowsill above my sink. I've since moved in a with a roommate who actually knows how to cook, so, combined, our spice situation was out of control. Neither of us were happy, so we brainstormed a solution: utilize the weird above stove space as a home for our many bottles of spice. Like the single file nature of my window sill, a skinny shelf would make our spices easier to see, plus, bonus, easy access while we cooked! 

I used: 

Over stove spice shelf
  • Two (2) 38in x 3.5in pine project boards
  • Two (2) 38in x 2.5in pine project boards
  • Four (4) C-clamps
  • Wood Glue
  • Level
  • Power Drill 
  • Two (2) brackets
  • Sand paper
  • Goat hair brush
  • Polyurethane 
  • 22 screws 

So, this is what we were dealing with....

Spice Chaos
spice chaos

Here's what I did:

Step one: Sandwich the Project Boards

Project board is very thin and flimsy by nature. Alone, I was worried it wouldn't be able to hold the weight of our spices. I decided to sandwich the two wider project boards to make it a bit more sturdy. Using wood glue, I placed one board directly on top of the other. With four c-clamps I secured it for drying. Then, while the wood glue was still wet, I used a power drill to secure ten screws into the project-board-sandwich, to aid the c-clamps. If you do this step, be sure to choose screws that are long enough to reach both levels of the project board, but not long enough to break through the top. 

Here's a picture of the finished sandwich :)

Sandwiched project board

Step two: Sand and Polyurethane

After 24 hours, my wood glue was dry. I removed the c-clamps and sanded the sandwiched, thicker board. At this point, I also grabbed the two thinner boards and sanded them as well. Following the directions on my can of polyurethane, I applied two coats to each side of all the boards with a goat hair brush, several hours apart. This step is important because, at its spot above the stove, the shelf will be exposed to water, steam and other liquids. The polyurethane should prevent warping.

Step three: Build the shelf

When everything was dry, about two days later, it was time to build the shelf! The base of our shelf is the wider, sandwiched project board. Using three screws, I attached the skinnier project board to the front of this piece at a 90 degree angle. My intent was to make a "wall," so the spices could not easily fall off of the base. I did the same to the back side with the second skinny project board.

I don't like this picture because the brackets aren't flush (I readjusted before hanging), but this will help demonstrate what you're doing....

Spice Shelf

Step Four: Attach the brackets to shelf

Flip your new shelf over, so the bottom is in the air. Screw the brackets, flush, to the bottom of your project board. Again, be sure to use screws that aren't long enough to break through the top board.

Step Five: Screw Shelf to Wall

Voila! With a level and a screwdriver I hung up our new spice shelf! Unfortunately, the brackets I chose were too long for my un-flat wall, so I could only utilize the screw holes at the top of my brackets. The bottoms hang off into the air, a bit, but it still gets the job done. If this happens to you, too, just make sure to prioritize the screws at the top of your brackets since they will be bearing the real weight of your spices. As a side note, you can find brackets of all sizes at your local hardware store, I just didn't measure before choosing mine.

Over stove spice shelf
Over stove spice shelf

What do you think? We love our new shelf. It's already wayyyy easier to find what we need and it looks much cleaner!


Project board: $2.50 per = $10
Screws: $4
Brackets: $20
Tools/Polyurethane/Wood glue: Had
Total: $34!

Annie's Studio Tour

Cute option for electrical wires

Hi, friends! 

I thought today we could take a little tour  of the rest of my studio :D First, a reminder about what the space looked like when I moved in..... Here's the "before" post and you can see a few transitional photos below. 

Small studio Before and After
Small SF studio before and after

It's filled with stuuuuuffff!!!! Woohoooo! I had to take a really slow approach to decorating this space due to some financial constraints, but slowly and surely (and 10 months later) this room really came together. You can see the finished product in these detail shots below. I've also put together a list of a few small strategies that made a big impact in this teeny-tiny studio.

  • Remove visually solid items: When I first made my kitchen table I had solid desk legs and solid backed kitchen chairs. It didn't take long before I replaced those with the airy hairpin legs and modern style stools. The moment I did there was SO much extra room in my apartment. Being able to see through the legs and stools just makes the room feel bigger. Not to mention, storing the stools under my table when not eating literally does give me more space:)
  • Break up the space into "areas." Even though my apartment is basically one big room, I tried to make four distinct areas and visually separate them. My "living room" is defined by the shaggy rug. The "dining room" is the space taken up by my kitchen table. My "office" is the standing desk on the wall, defined by a gallery installation. And the "bedroom" is, well the bed :)
  • Headboards are so adult & I finally understand the value. They make a HUGE difference in bringing together a room. I didn't have a headboard for the first nine months I lived here and my apartment really never felt finished until I did.
  • DIY!! In a small space, you might need unique pieces to fit a unique layout. Don't be afraid to custom build your own furniture to make it the perfect fit :D 
  • Lastly, live in your space. There's no need to decorate your apartment right away. Live in the space, see how you use it and what you really need. It will make the finished product that much more perfect. I really struggled to find a place where I could put a tv, but after a few weeks in my apartment I realized I didn't even need it! I use my laptop to stream Netflix & crash on a friend's couch or plan a trip to a bar if there is something on the actual tv I want to watch. 

Since you saw the finished kitchen a few weeks ago, this concludes my apartment tour. Ringing in at a whopping 275 square feet, this is probably the smallest space I'll ever inhabit. It's been a really fun challenge to design a space that worked for me, and I hope you enjoyed peeking into my life! xox 

Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Hanging Side Table in Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment
Cute Tiny Apartment

Photos: Diana Lustig Sources: DIY dining tableHairpin legs; Amazon Kitchen stools; Stendig Calendar;  DIY standing desk; Restoration Hardware bar stool (Thrifted); Mintwood Photo Co. Cyan-o-matic plant prints; Hickory + Co "Cincinnati" Wood laser cut-out; DIY wooden headboard; Iron Illumination swag lampsDIY hanging side table; Ikea Floor Lamp; Move Loot Winged arm chair; DIY tree slice side table; DIY floor-length curtainsRUGS USA area rug

DIY Hanging Wood Headboard

It took me months to decide what I wanted to display above my bed. My studio is tiny. The bed, as the biggest piece of furniture, is the default focal point. Whatever I put above it was going to get a lot of attention.

For a while, I thought about temporary wallpaper. I photoshopped a bunch of different options into the space... and didn't love any of them. I turned my attention to engineering prints of mountain photos. That's like so specific, isn't it? & fraudulent, too.  I really only pretend to be outdoorsy. Anyway, I eventually stumbled on this ABM post where Elsie transforms her dining room into a half wooden wall. I thought it was so perfect. The one problem was, since I rent my space, I really couldn't drill all those boards into the plaster walls. It would destroy them.

I decided to go for a similar effect by building the half-wooden-wall as a separate piece and hanging it above my bed to look like a headboard.

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

To start out, I measured my space. You need to know the total width and height of your final headboard. Then head out to the Hardware Store (a big one, like Lowe's or Home Depot), where you will visit two sections.

  • First, lumber section. I bought three 2x4's and cut them to the height I wanted my headboard. Then I found seven very thin boards, I think they might be panels. I got them in varying widths & woods & even cut a few in half, just for aesthetics. Cut these boards to the width you want your headboard. I even laid them out in the shape of my headboard on the floor of the hardware store and measured the width and height to make sure it was right.  
  • Second, hardware section. In the picture framing area (it usually has a sign), I bought six large frame hangers and six safety hangers.
  • Optional, paint section. If you need stain, polyurethane, sandpaper or brushes, this is the time to do that. I already had those things :)

You're going to spend a few days with the panel boards. First: sand each one down with a coarse paper, then a fine. After they're nice and smooth, apply your stain. I decided to use a compilation of all the stains I had in my closet (left over from my DIY dining table, tree slice side table, a desk we built for Jake, and a few other projects). I applied one coat of stain to each board, front and back, and let that dry for two days. After another light sanding, I applied one coat of a matte polyurethane and let that dry another day. 

Now the fun stuff: Lay your three 2x4s vertically on the floor in a row. Each 2x4 should be several inches apart. Then lay your stained boards horizontally across the top of the 2x4s and screw them in, one wood screw in each panel into each 2x4. I forgot to take a pictures, so here's a weird drawing to help visualize this.

diy wooden headboard

In the end, each stained, horizontal panel will have three screws in it (one on top of each 2x4). After this is done, sand the whole thing down and apply two more coats of polyurethane to the top of your (now large) pallet, a few hours apart. Let it dry for another day. 

Once the poly is fully cured, flip your pallet over, so the three 2x4s are exposed. Attach all six frame hangers, two on each 2x4, in a row. 

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

Now you're essentially hanging a picture frame! So, I'm just going to walk you through the same instructions I did back when we hung a gallery wall :D

Roll a large piece of kraft paper across the back of your frame and trace the hangers. 

DIY hanging headboard

(Remember this is the reverse of your board, so you have to turn the kraft paper over before you hang it onto the wall). With painter's tape and a level, hang your kraft paper onto the wall so you can visualize where the headboard will hang. 

DIY hanging headboard

Nail your safety hangers to the wall right where you traced the photo hangers on your paper. You can nail them in right on top of the kraft paper.

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

Tear down the paper....

DIY hanging headboard
DIY hanging headboard

& then hang your headboard!

DIY hanging headboard
Hanging Headboard DIY
DIY hanging headboard
Hanging headboard

7 paneling boards, cut to length of your headboard (Lowe's): $80
3 two by fours, cut to height of your headboard (Lowe's): $12
Sand Paper (coarse and fine): Had
Wood Stains: Had
Polyurethane: Had
Brushes: Had
21 wood screws: Had
6 large frame hangers (Lowe's): $5
6 safety hangers (Lowe's): $12
Kraft Paper (Miachael's): Had
Total: $109

Photos: Nikond3200 35mm and Kit Lens / Edits: Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop

Annie's Studio Kitchen Tour

Ikea Grundal Kitchen Bars

Long awaited and slightly spoiled by my SmallCool Contest... the "after" photos of my tiny little SF kitchen! Let's first take a trip down memory lane. Remember what my kitchen looked like when I moved in? Here's the "before" post and a few photos below. 

Apartment kitchen before and after
Before and After

This is honestly my favorite space in the apartment. Not just because it's where I cook dinner (Cough. Excuse me. Where I warm up pizza from the Whole Foods Refrigerated Section.), but also because it was the first room here in SF that I got "done."

That's a funny word, because of course no room is ever "done." A space grows and changes with your needs and taste. But, this was the room that I focused on making me right away. Moving here was really hard. I mean, I'm so happy I did, don't get me wrong. But living 2000 miles away from my family and everything I know -- that was a challenge. I really needed to make something here in SF mine, and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible. I did it here in this tiny kitchen. 

Que end of the sappy part of this post :D Anyway, you can see for yourself how the space evolved in the photos below. But I also wanted to point out a few of what I consider the "big impact" items:

  • Removing the cupboard doors. I did this RIGHT away. It's super easy, for you other renters out there. Literally just unscrew the hinges. Of course, before I move out, I'll have to screw them back on, but I absolutely think removing these doors opened the room a TON.
  • HANG EVERYTHING. Literally, everything. I hung pots and pans, I hung knives, I hung the paper towels, I hung plants, I hung baking supplies, I hung my pictures (as magnets on the fridge). There is one drawer and two "food" storage cupboards in this kitchen. That's not enough room for anything. Utilizing the wall space was imperative.
  • Draw the eyes up. It's true what they say, if you put something above the natural line of vision, your eye will travel up to see it. This layering of height helps the space feel much larger. I did this through the art above my cupboards and the hanging copper plant rod (a DIY I can share here, if you'd like!).
  • Speaking of the plants, Greenery. I've never had plants before, but now I have three succulents in the kitchen, two herbs the wall, mint in the corner, and an air plant on the fridge. You might think I'm crazy for saying this, but I feel like they're like my little pets! It's so fun to watch them grow. The plants add some needed life into this tiny kitchen.
  • You might notice I don't have a microwave.... so that's my final tip. Challenge yourself. I didn't think I could live without a microwave (ugh, pampered much?), but it actually is totally fine. I use this awesome wok that I found at a Thrift Store to make oatmeal in the morning and heat up leftovers. Those were pretty much the only reasons I ever used a microwave anyway! It feels great to save the space the microwave would have taken up.
Cute Tiny kitchen
Tiny Kitchen solutions
Plants in a tiny apartment kitchen
Small kitchen solutions
Tiny kitchen

Photos: Diana Lustig | Sources: Ikea Grundtal Kitchen Rods (pots and pans); Urban Outfitters Swan Watering Can; Bed Bath and Beyond Paper Towel Holder; Target Trash Can; Ikea Magnetic Knife Bar; Ikea Double Tiered Drying Rack; Hanging plants, Hanging Shelf and Modern Planter DIY's; Amazon Le Parfait Jars.

Call for Voters: Small Cool

Hello! Hi! Howdy! I'm really pumped because 1) I finally get to share some photos of my apartment with you and 2) I'm a contestant on Apartment Therapy's Small Cool Contest this year! It's kind of a dream of mine :)

That's why I'm here, actually. I would really love your vote. 

If you feel so inclined, please click on this link and "favorite" my entry on apartmenttherapy.com. I'm in the teeny-tiny division! 

If you don't have an account with Apartment Therapy, you can submit your email to receive a new url in your inbox to cast your vote. The contest is over this Friday (May 6) at 9am PST. After it's over, I'll take you on an official tour of my kitchen and studio. 

Love you guys so much!

Photos: Diana Lustig / Edits: Adobe Photoshop