AT HOME | a blog by Joanna Gaines

DIY Open Pipe Shelving

July 3, 2015

Industrial pipe shelving has been a DIY request since season two, episode one – The Little House on the Prairie. The Batsons’ kitchen cabinets were made completely of these industrial pipe open shelving units (see below), and today we wanted to show you how simple this DIY can be for your own kitchen, bedroom or any room in your home in need of interest and dimension.

With a little hard work and dedication, this project could be conquered in just one afternoon!

Here’s what you’ll need:
-Fig. A – 3/4″  flange (x 10 – 8 for wall; 2 for ceiling)
-Fig. B – 3/4″ x 10″ pipe (x 8)
-Fig. C – 3/4″ x 18″ pipe (x 2)
-Fig. D – 3/4″ 3-way tee (x 6)
-Fig. E – 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ pipe (x 6)
-Fig. F – 3/4″ connector (x 6)
-Fig. G – 3/4″x 6″ pipe (x 6)
-Fig. H – 3/4″  90-degree elbow (x 2)
-Wall anchors and screws (not shown)
-Wooden planks – 4′ x 10″ (x4)
-Optional: High quality metallic spray paint.
-Optional: For easier assembly, you can replace materials E, F and G with 3/4″ x 10″ piping if you like. We chose to use the 3 materials listed to add character.

PREP:
– Wipe pipes to remove any residue or excess oil/grease (if pipes were custom cut).
– If you want to have all the pieces uniform,  you can spray paint them with a high quality metallic spray paint. NOTE: galvanized pieces resist some spray paints due to a coating of zinc that is applied to avoid corrosion. Since we chose to use black iron pipes, primer and paint adhesion was not a problem.
– Cut shelves according to wanted size (4′ x 10″ in this illustration); stain if desired.

Make your “vertical” pipes by using a 3/4″ connector (F) to attach 3/4″ x 3 1/2″ pipe (E) with 3/4″ x 6″ pipe (G). Repeat this step for a total of 6 “vertical” pipes.
Note: you could avoid this step and use a solid 3/4″ x 10″ pipe if you’d rather.

Use a 3/4″ 3-way tee (D) to connect your assembled “vertical” pipes (E, F, G) and attach 3/4″ x 10″ “horizontal” pipe (B) as shown. Attach 3/4″ flange (A) to open end of “horizontal” pipe.

For the bottom shelf, attach “vertical” pipe (E, F, G) to 3/4″ 90-degree elbow (H). Attach “horizontal” pipe (B) and flange (A).

Illustration of assembly before attaching the final “vertical” pipe (Fig. C).

Attach top “vertical” pipe – 3/4″ x 18″ (C) – to the top of 3/4″ 3-way tee (D) and screw flange (A) to open end of (C) pipe.

Hold assembled unit against the wall and flush with the ceiling. Use a balance to ensure it is straight and mark the walls to screw anchors. After inserting anchors, align unit and screw in place.

As we were using 4′ x 10″ wooden planks, we placed the 2 assembled units 3′ apart to allow the shelves to overlap by approximately 6″ on either side.

Place wooden plank shelves in unit and that’s it! There are a few moving parts to juggle as you build your unit, but it truly is simple once you get the hang of it. The finished product is well worth the afternoon lost! Enjoy!

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  • Christina
    1:04 pm, January 21, 2017
    I watch your show all the time. The 2 of you are so inspiring and I love your work
  • shelly mathis
    8:34 pm, January 11, 2017
    I absolutely love this shelving idea. I cant wait to get a house bought and use this idea.
  • Evie Lemelin
    12:28 pm, January 9, 2017
    Love plumbing pipe look. Do you have any pictures of bottom kitchen cabinets done in that fashion?
  • Olivia
    9:07 pm, December 27, 2016
    Does anyone have any advice on how to cut the pipe or find pipe pieces the 6" long?
    • iHeartConstruction
      3:54 am, December 28, 2016
      Small pieces of pipe are called "nipples". If your local hardware store doesn't carry them, you can get a 3/4"x6" black steel nipple at any big box home improvement center, such as Home Depot or Lowes.
  • em
    6:18 am, December 19, 2016
    Does anyone have an estimated cost for the pipe materials for this project?
    • SNO
      11:48 am, January 6, 2017
      I bought the parts at Home Depot (the screws I already had at home). I am only doing 3 shelves, so didn't buy the long pipes. The top will curve back in and connect to the wall, similar to the bottom. My total was just under $180.
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