Thoughts on hanging a shelf (and not driving yourself crazy in the process)

Ikea shelfI’m at the tail end of my kitchen renovation. It feels nice. Although the reason that it’s not 100% complete is because of those final little details that seem so hard to finish. One of my biggest headaches these past two weeks has been hanging a double decker kitchen shelf from Ikea. Who knew something so seemingly simple would be so freaking frustrating?

Well, I’ve learned from experience that you need proper support when trying to hang a shelf. Several years ago, I attempted hanging a different Ikea shelf and in the middle of the night it came tumbling down…along with everything on top of it. Ugh.

So this time, I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. Thus began the hunt for the perfect toggle bolt. Well, I will spare you the humiliating details of my incompetence…and instead just give you a simple DIY’ers how-to checklist for when YOU are hanging shelf [with a toggle bolt].

  1. Find a shelf. Preferably NOT from Ikea. I know they look pretty, but I’m convinced that they’re designed to make your life hell. However, assuming that you are like me and prefer form over function…then continue down this list.
  2. Determine what kind of wall you have and if there is a stud available. Screwing the shelf into a stud is ALWAYS preferable to using any other method. Or so they tell me… I never seem to hang anything into a stud.
  3. However, assuming you bought some fancy Ikea shelf that doesn’t work with the spacing of your studs (like I did), then knowing what type of wall you have will help you determine what kind of wall anchor you will need.
  4. When you’re marking the holes for drilling into the wall…make sure you use a level to make sure that your shelf will hang level. If possible, have the shelf propped up on top of something so that you’re not trying to hold the shelf whilst also marking the holes. This can be extremely frustrating.
  5. If you have hollow walls, a molly bolt or toggle bolt is your best option. But if you plan on hanging heavy items on this shelf, go straight for the toggle bolt. (Oh, and BUY A FEW EXTRA!) You’ll lose a couple in the wall trying to get it right…and the last thing you want to do is head back to the hardware store at 8pm on a Tuesday night.
  6. Also, if there is a small local hardware store nearby…make sure to purchase any wall anchors there. The people that work there are more knowledgeable and can help you pick out the right size anchor as well as any new drill bits you might need to insert that bad boy. If using a toggle bolt, you’re going to need a bigger hole than you think.
  7. Follow instructions on the package for how to use the toggle bolt, but here’s a tip: Make sure you get the right length bolts. (Or else you’re going to have to go back to the store yet again.) When you’re not sure, err on the side of longer than your first inclination . You can always tighten it.
  8. Another tip for the toggle bolt: Don’t try to be sly and put the toggle all the way at the end. You’ll need to screw it on a couple of threads so that it doesn’t get messed up behind the wall. Trust me!!
  9. Next tighten up the bolts…and then you’ve got a nice shelf hanging on the wall.

Hopefully this project won’t take you almost two weeks like mine did. But even though it took me that long, I must say that I’m very happy with the results.

Ikea shelf with stuff on it


3 thoughts on “Thoughts on hanging a shelf (and not driving yourself crazy in the process)

  1. The shelf is beautiful, and I love how you arranged it. I bet it feels great after putting so much work into it! Glad you’re writing again.

  2. Yes, it does feel good actually (to have the shelf up and to be writing again). I can’t wait to get final photos of the kitchen in general.

  3. I love what you have done with your shelf/mugs. I have an addiction to pretty mugs and they are currently behind cabinet doors and can’t be easily seen.

    Which shelf is this from IKEA?

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