Need More Corbel!

I have a little nook in my upstairs bathroom. I’ve been looking at that little nook for the last 10 months thinking, “How can I make that more interesting and useful?!?”

My answer….Corbels!

Corbels are all over pinterest these days. Most of the corbels I’ve seen are in kitchens, but I thought this would be a great way to add a little interest to my odd little bathroom nook.

all pics via pinterest

Here’s my odd little nook…

The nook I’m talking about is above the toilet, between the shower and the wall to the right.

Once I decided I wanted to use corbels, I imagined bright white shelves with simple corbels holding them up from underneath.

So off to Lowe’s I went…

Let me explain something. I am a Lowe’s girl. I think it is far superior to Home Depot most of the time. I find that there are usually more knowledgeable employees that are ready and able to help you. Not to mention, I think they have a better selection. I have never had an issue with those two things until the day I took on this project.

 I walked into Lowe’s and immediately went to the woodwork section of the store where I had seen corbels before. Honestly I thought I was in the wrong section because I only saw maybe 2…no, not 2 choices. Literally 2 corbels in the eeeeentiiire store! Whaaaaa?? So off I went to look for a kind, helpful employee to point me in the right direction(preferably to an aise just dedicated to corbels…please? No? Ok.). Nobody, not a soul in site to help. So after walking around for at least another 15 minutes trying to make sure I didn’t miss the jackpot of corbels aisle, I left the store and reluctantly headed to Home Depot.

I usually don’t have very good luck at Home Depot, but this day was different. I wouldn’t say they had a TON of options in the corbel department, but they definitely had more than Lowe’s. Here’s what I found…

Here’s the breakdown…

Option #1- pretty, but a little too ornate for what I wanted. I wanted a little bit more modern, clean lines type of look. It also reminds me of a treble clef…anyone else? just me? ok.

Option #2- I immediately recognized this from John & Sherry Petersik’s kitchen remodel. I would have chosen this one, but it was a little too big for my nook. With four of them in there it probably would have been too much.

Option #3- Honestly I just put this one in there for fun. Yikes and gross all at the same time. It reminds me of the wagon-wheel chandelier that was hanging above the dining room table when my parents first bought their fixer-upper in the 90s.

Option #4- Now we’re talking. It’s a little smaller, has clean lines, subtle curves without being too ornate. Perfect.

So with my corbel choice complete, I headed off to the lumber section. To be completely honest, this section freaks me out a little bit. I never know where to start. There’s a million different types of wood, sizes of planks, finished, unfinished, thick, thin. Luckily for me I received help from a man who seemed like he knew what he was doing(more on that in a minute)…

I needed my shelves to be between 7.5-8 inches deep, 24 inches long, and about 1/2-3/4 inch thick. So Mr. Helpful led me right to a 7.5inch deep/6 foot long Poplar board that was around $7. Perfect. Then he offered to cut the board for me. Awesome….or so I thought…..

I don’t know what happened, maybe the saw was not on high enough, or maybe it was on too high, or even maybe it was the fact that he pushed the wood into the blade and then pulled it back through a second time(imagine me watching in horror with my hands on my face. I don’t know a lot about saws, but I do know it isn’t supposed to sound like THAT!) but when he handed me my  cut pieces they were all chewed up in the ends!

Now I know some people would have asked him to re-cut the boards, but in my head it was free so I didn’t complain. I was slightly freaking out inside though because I knew I was going to paint the board, but they would still show some of the damage that was made by the saw. Grrrrr.

I did pick up a medium grit sanding block to see if that would help smooth the boards’ ends out a little bit.

Sanding the ends of the boards did alleviate most of the issue(it just would have been great to have it cut smoothly the first time. huff puff. Ok, I’m done). You can see the gnawed up end of the board below.

  Normally I would have done this project outside, but it’s been so nasty here and we were expecting rain later that night so I opted to do it on my coffee table in my living room with lost of good ventilation and the fan going. It worked out fine and I didn’t get high from the paint. Whew!

After sanding the fronts and backs of both boards I propped them up on paint cans.

Since this is unfinished wood, it will soak up the paint like a sponge. In this case I always opt to use a coat or 2 of primer before applying the paint. My favorite primer is Bulls-Eye 1-2-3 Water-Based Primer. That stuff is seriously awesome(read more about how I used it here for my dresser makeover).

The great thing about this type of primer is that it dries quickly so you can safely apply several coat within a couple hours without having to worry about it being to thick or gummy. I applied 2 coats and let it sit for a couple hours before I applied any paint. You can also sand this primer in between coats, which is another added bonus.

Here’s the boards after 2 coats. The primer really does help cover and, in my opinion, is definitely worth the extra time and effort to ensure you get a long-lasting finish without any bleed-though from the wood grain or knots in the boards.

I also primed the corbels the exact same way I did the shelves. 2 coats of primer. Let dry for a couple hours. 2 coats of white semi-gloss paint.

Oh, and I almost forgot the most important step…

Make sure you have a curious spotty pup to inspect your work!

So after all the sanding, priming, and painting the splintering on the boards were nearly undetectable on one side, but you could still see some of the damage on the other side.

So my solution was to make sure that these sides became the bottoms of the shelves. Oh well, they aren’t perfect but you won’t be able to see it once they are up on top of the corbels.

I planned on letting all the parts cure for at least 72 hours, but that quickly turned into about a week because life got in the way. How does that always happen??

So finally the other night I decided to put these bad boys up!

The corbels came with anchors and screws to hang them with. I just measured out the desired height of my shelves and marked how far in I wanted my corbels.

Here’s a little trick I learned a while back…. When you have something(like my corbels) that have a bracket on the back that’s a little difficult to hang, just trace your object out on a piece of paper and tape in down to the back of your object. All you have to do is mark your nail holes, then transfer it to the wall and mark the wall. It definitely takes the guessing game out of hanging(or that moment when you’ve hammered your nail in for the 45th time and you think, “Oh my gosh, this better be the right spot!”).


So after I marked everything, I made my pilot holes for my anchors, hammered them into the wall, and used an electric drill to screw the screws into the anchors(leaving about an 1/8 of an inch sticking out to hang the corbels on).

After all the corbels were up, I put my shelves on top and checked to make sure everything was level. I chose to attach the shelves with Liquid Nails because 1)I didn’t want to screw the shelves directly into the corbels and deal with patching, priming, and painting over the holes. and 2)I’ve heard Liquid Nails is pretty much the bomb and it gave me an excuse to try it.

Turns out….Liquid Nail IS awesome!! I just applied a small bead of glue to each corbel and carefully placed my shelves onto them. The package says it sets in 30 minutes and cures in 24 hours. So after I set the shelves on the corbels, I found some heavy items to put on the shelves to kinda help push them down and let the Liquid Nails set overnight.

At first when I stepped back and looked at the finished product I thought they were a little high, but I did that on purpose because you definitely don’t want a concussion when rising from your throne!! I think once I style them with more permanent items it will definitely give a better sense of balance.

Oh and did you notice my booboo? When I measured where I thought I wanted my corbels, it was a liiiiitle too far in underneath the shelves. So I had to jerk those anchors out of the wall and move them. Yay me!

So add patch the holes, sand, and paint to the to do list.

Ok who am I kidding….my oatmeal jar in STILL sitting on those shelves upstairs. I’m just blaming it on wanting to make sure they are completely cured before I style them up with all the stuff that’s going to stay up there. I’m not actually sure what’s going to stay up there, so I’ll save that for another post.

Is anyone else procrastinating this week? Or added corbels to your house recently? Or building more shelving? Or have a spotty pup inspecting all your DIY projects?

Next Post
Leave a comment


  1. Marcy

     /  February 25, 2012

    This post came at just the perfect time! I was just thinking today how I want to put up a shelf just like that in the kitchen on that big blank wall (you know the one). I thought it would be great to put metal baskets on it to store my onions, garlic, lemons, limes etc. I’m not so intimidated now! Thanks Bretta!

    • Oh good! That is a great idea! I also saw some awesome baskets at Marshalls just the other day. There were some metal ones that reminded me of the utility cart you have in your kitchen. That would be a neat mix! Let me know if you need any help!

  2. Mom

     /  March 6, 2012

    That is really cute. I can’t wait to see it in person…. hint, hint. Mom needs to come visit.

  3. These look awesome! I had no idea these were called “corbels”! Good to know. 🙂 I also recognized corbel # 2 from YHL. Speaking of which, I get to see them at their book signing next Friday and I am SO EXCITED!! Thanks for this tutorials!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • Hi! I'm Bretta. This is my blog. Join me in this crazy journey we call life!

  • bloglovin
  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • Wanna know what these two have been up to? Check out the "Millie & Otto" page

  • Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: