Sunday, January 13, 2013

Best. Rain Gutter. Bookshelves. Ever.



If you are one of the three people who read this regularly, then you already know about my rain gutter bookshelves.




Whhhhhhhhhhhy do I do this to myself? I must loooooooooooooooove nonsense.

I have an affinity for nonsense.


Because, I just had to go back and paint them white. I couldn’t handle the brown any longer. And I know some of y’all might be thinking that I just randomly painted some bookshelves brown to stick out like sore thumbs.



I painted the bookshelves brown … and then forced my poor Superman to paint my white preschool tables brown … and I bought BROWN framed chairs …. brown, brown, and brown.

I don’t know. I just don’t. So don’t ask.

Like, 2.3876 seconds after finishing the bookshelves AND tables I thought to myself, “I think I liked them better white”.

For real.


My poooooooor husband. Now he gets to repaint the tables white this week to match THIS:

raingutter bookshelf with crown molding2


Admit it. Those shelves just sang to you. I know they did.

I’m telling you: the only thing worse than painting those shelves after installing them … is REPAINTING them after botching the first paint color. Learn from my mistake: only WHITE rain gutter bookshelves from here on out.


For those of you who are new … here’s how we made them.

Giddy up.

Cause it was fun.

You will need:

* 4” crown moulding in whatever length your shelf will be (this will be the front/decorative portion of the shelf)

* 2” x .50” board in whatever length your shelf will be (this will be the actual shelf that the books sit on)

* 1.25” x .75” trim board, cut into 2” blocks (these are the brackets that will brace the rail across the wall – you will need 15 of them)

* 1.25” x .25” trim board in whatever length your shelf will be (this is the rail that will go above each shelf)

* 3” or 4” screws

* Nail gun


Okey dokey. Here we go.

First of all: do yourself an enormous favor and paint all of the wood to whatever color you want it to be when finished … that way you just have to do minor touch ups when you are finished. Trust me, you do not want to skip this step. We skipped it. Learn from us.

Second, you are going to construct each ‘shelf’ of the wall separately, and then install it onto the wall. There is the shelf and there is a rail. At least, that’s what I am going to call them.

To construct the shelf: Simply measure the 2” board to match the length of the 4” crown moulding; both of which need to be the entire length of the wall, whatever wall you are using. I think Home Depot sells crown moulding in lengths up to 16 feet. That could be fun to get home … but, they sell them. Our wall is just over 10’ long.

Once you’ve got the 2” board cut to the same length as your 4” crown moulding, brace the two together using a nail gun. You want the shelf to sit at the top of the crown moulding as shown in these pictures. Just use your nail gun to shoot some invisible (is that the word?) nails into the front of the mouding, securing it to the shelf portion. Man, I hope this makes sense.

Now that you essentially have the shelf portion put together, you just have to put it on your wall. This also requires your nail gun. Just shoot nails across the bottom of the crown moulding, which will be sitting against the wall. You also want to shoot a few diagonal nails into the back of the top shelf, against the back of the wall. Putty over any tiny nail holes … and then touch up paint when you are finished.

Now, for the top railing above each shelf: Cut each railing piece to the same length as your shelf piece.

Cut 15 – 2” blocks (5 for each railing, unless your shelf is 5 feet or less in length, then you only need 3 per shelf) using 1.25” x .75” trim board. So, your blocks will measure 2” x 1.25” x .75”.


Next, find the studs in your wall. Use a block as a brace bracket on each end, in the center, and then one in each stud on either side of the center. Hope that makes sense. Superman used a nail gut to place each bracket onto the rail before screwing the whole railing, including brackets, into the wall.


Use a 3” piece of scrap wood at each bracket setting to make sure the railing is installed straight and perfectly level. Also, use 3-4” screws to screw all the way through the rail and bracket and into the wall.


Once you have installed all the shelves and all the railings, just caulk or putty over each screw/nail hole and then touch up paint the area.


Then you don’t have to tape off every nook and cranny and then re-tape and repaint the wall when you finish painting the brown shelves. Painting these while they were on the wall was a nightmare. Trust me. So, you’re gonna learn from me and not do that, right? ;)

And, you’re gonna learn from me and not paint them anything but white the first time, RIGHT?! ;)

This is a surprisingly simple and super fast project (maybe 3 hours, start to finish) … Because there isn’t tons of cutting involved. I highly recommend using a spot where you can do wall to wall shelving, like I have done. Then, there aren’t any weird intricate angling cuts trying to finish off the sides of shelving.

raingutter bookshelf with crown molding2

I can cram about 200 picture books on these three shelves. Not even joking. Because, with the railing there to keep the books on the shelf, I can stack the books 3-4 books deep, one behind the other.

raingutter bookshelf with crown molding3

These shelves are worth every second of tender loving care you put into them.

raingutter bookshelf with crown molding4

One last close up of the brackets … you don’t even really notice them at all. These ARE essential. You do have to brace that big long railing several times in between the ends of the shelf. Otherwise, some punk kid is going to put too much weight against the railing and snap the wood. That would just break my heart for you.


For the newbies. Here’s a before and after:


raingutter bookshelf6


raingutter bookshelf with crown molding2

For real.

What was I thinking with the brown? Shaking my head in shame now.


  1. I definitely like them white better!

    1. I love the white! I looooove the whole thing! very inventive....

  2. I’m so lucky today that I was able to read your post which gives me a lot of ideas .thanks for a post

    1. Aw, thank you so much! We are having fun doing what we can where we can. :D

  3. Thanks so much for your blog! So many great ideas - I'm trying to work up the courage to start decorating, to even just hang a picture where there wasn't already a nail. I have a question for you, how does the spray paint hold up? Especially on door handles and the like...

    1. The spray paint is holding up GREAT! I have been getting so many questions. I'm going to do an update post in the next couple days with pictures as proof. :D

  4. White triumphs over brown here! Honestly, the previous look of the gutter shelves was a bit drab. It would've worked if you have a lighter shade for your wall. However, it is undeniably more reasonable to repaint the shelves than the whole wall, right? :P -->Mariam

  5. Bumping into your blog is so timely! We've recently replaced our roof gutter and are thinking of ways to dispose the old one in an eco-friendly way. I've heard about turning roof gutters into bookshelves and plant pots, but didn't know how it's properly done. Thank you for this! And oh, the white paint really made a huge difference. Glad you repainted it. :) Allyson Ripple

  6. You have explained it very beautiful i like the way of explanation thanks for such a good info sharing. Liquid EPDM

  7. Thanks for this explanation and photos. We want to do something like this in our little girls' room.
    But I don't understand well how you put the 2x0.5" board onto the back of the crown molding and made it fit together. Isn't the back of the crown molding at a 45 degree angle? Can you draw us a diagram of how the two fit together, from the side?

  8. Congratulations! You just helped me solve two problems. One, I have my old gutters lying around in the backyard and I don't know what to do with them. Two, my kids like to read but we don't have a shelf, so they tend to leave their books wherever they read them. This is really an ingenious solution. Thanks!

    Kyle Hoffman @

  9. The white is definitely way better!!!!!!!!!!!!