Boost Your Bathroom Storage With a DIY Ladder Shelf

Make the most of a small bathroom with this DIY leaning ladder shelf and towel rack. Designed to fit over the toilet, this sleek storage piece won’t damage your walls, so it’s perfect for renters.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Materials

  • (2) 2x2 x 8’ boards
  • (1) 1x6 x 6’ board
  • 22” of a 1x12 board
  • (1) 1x4 x 6’ board
  • (1) 6’ dowel, 1” in diameter
  • 1-1/4” pocket screws
  • 1-1/4” wood screws
  • 1-1/4” brad nails
  • (2) keyhole brackets
  • (2) non-slip furniture glides
  • wood glue
  • finishing supplies

Tools

  • tape measure
  • pencil
  • carpenter’s square
  • drill with 1” and 1/4" forstner bit
  • circular saw
  • jigsaw
  • pocket hole jig
  • brad nailer or hammer
  • clamps
  • safety glasses
  • hearing protection
  • dust mask

Cut List

  • (2) 2x2 @ 69” (legs)
  • (2) 2x2 @ 1” (top)
  • (2) 1x6 @ 22” (stretchers)
  • (3) 1” diameter dowel @ 22” (towel bars)
  • (2) 1x4 @ 11-1/4” (shelf sides)
  • (1) 1x4 @ 20-1/2” (shelf back)
  • (1) 1x12 @ 22” (shelf bottom)

For specific dimensions and 3D diagrams, download the PDF building plans at www.JenWoodhouse.com.

Measure and Cut the Boards

Using the cut list above, measure, mark and cut the 2x2 legs to length. The bottom of the legs should be cut at a 5 degree angle. The top will be cut at a 45 degree angle. I recommend cutting each piece as you go, instead of cutting all of the boards at the beginning.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Install the Keyhole Brackets

Measure, mark and cut the 1” pieces of 2x2. Using a drill fitted with a 1” forstner bit, drill a 1/4" deep hole into the 2x2 pieces. This is so that the keyhole brackets will sit flush into the 2x2 pieces.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

You’ll need to use the smaller forstner bit to hollow out the inside a bit, so that when you install the keyhole brackets, there will be space for the wall screws to go.

Position the keyhole brackets into place and screw them on.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Cut Out the Shelf Pieces

Measure, mark and cut the shelf pieces to length. Draw a curve on one end of the shelf sides and cut it out with a jigsaw.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Build the Shelf

Construct the shelf as shown with 1-1/4” brad nails and wood glue.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Drill the Holes for the Towel Bars

Measure and mark where the towel bar holes will go on the 2x2 legs. Using a drill fitted with a 1” forstner bit, drill a slight inset for the towel bars to sit.

Measure, mark and cut the dowels to length.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Drill the Pocket Holes

Pocket hole joinery involves drilling a pilot hole at a slight angle into one board, then joining it to a second board with a self-tapping screw. Pocket hole joinery is a fast and reliable technique that creates a strong joint.

Whenever you join 1x material (typically 3/4" thick), you’ll set the pocket hole jig to the 3/4" setting and use 1-1/4” pocket screws. Be sure to measure the thickness of your boards prior to drilling and set the pocket hole jig accordingly.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Attach the Stretchers

Measure, mark and cut the 1x6 stretchers to length. Drill 3/4" pocket holes into the ends and attach them to the legs with 1-1/4” pocket screws. The stretchers should be 30” from the bottom of the legs.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Construct the Leaning Shelf

It’s important to attach only one side of the shelf first. Attach one side of the stretcher, squeeze a small amount of wood glue into the holes where the dowels will be, insert them, then attach the other side of the stretcher and dowels.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Attach the Shelf

Pre-drill pilot holes into the sides of the shelf and attach the shelf to the legs with 1-1/4” countersunk wood screws and wood glue. Attach the shelf to the 1x6 stretchers with 1-1/4” brad nails and wood glue. 

Install Non-Slip Furniture Glides

These furniture glides will keep the wood from being directly on the bathroom floor. Drill a small pilot hole into the bottom of the legs and hammer the glides into place.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Finish the Bathroom Shelf

Sand the entire shelf with 150-grit sandpaper, then follow up with 220-grit sandpaper. Remove the dust and debris with a slightly damp rag or tack cloth then stain or paint as desired. Finally, apply three coats of finish to protect the wood from moisture.

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

Photo by: Jen Woodhouse

Jen Woodhouse

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