We are starting a new segment called Lessons Learned. This is the part where I share all of my mistakes, oops, and minor meltdowns from our recently completed Laundry room renovation because I’m a person and people are allowed to make mistakes and have emotions…I just have a few too many these days. In case you missed our room reveal post a few days ago, make sure you check that out, here. Now, let me share with you the saga of how it took me two weekends to install 3 shelves.
I stained and finished my shelves. It’s a long and tedious process but it’s actually the fun part for me. I really like woodworking. I think it’s the artist in me. Making something from nothing. Plus I get all giggly when I get new materials to work with. Anyway, all was going well.
I searched and searched for brackets that I liked that wouldn’t break the bank. These shelves were going in a closet. I wanted it to look nice but I really didn’t want to spend a ton of money that wouldn’t really be seen. So initially I had this bright idea to just buy steel 8″ corner brackets and spray paint them using the Rustoleum textured spray paint. They looked great! I was excited. I only spent $70 total on brackets and hardware. It was going to be great! I got everything inside and was going to get. work. done.
Things you need to know: the wall where I wanted my shelves is old school wood paneling that I repaired and painted. I love this stuff mostly because it is original to the home but also because it is legit. It’s not that flimsy wood paneling that you can get at a big box home improvement store these days. It is 1/2″ thick of solid wood. What?! They don’t make things like this anymore. It’s pretty impressive. So I think this fact wiggled its way inside my head and planted a nice fat seed of anxiety and it all went downhill from there. “What if I mess it up? I am drilling 1/2″ holes in it! That’s going to be really hard to patch. It’s wood so how can I tell where the studs are? What if I start drilling and I hit something in the wall?” Oh, yea…. all the anxiety…
I tried to brush off the anxiety and just focus on what I was doing. “If I don’t think about it I will get it done faster and everything will be fine. It will be … fine… just fine…” So I marked for my holes for the brackets. Because I was drilling into 1/2″ wood, my husband suggested that I use wood screws instead of the toggles (also because I was losing it over the idea of drilling 1/2″ holes in the walls).
I got my first bracket up, then the second. I placed my shelf and started to secure the screws on the top part of the bracket to secure the bracket to the shelves. Gave the shelf a little weight to check for stability… and it sagged. Like 3 or 4 inches… Cue meltdown #1.
I now had 6 holes in the wood paneling and 6 holes in my beautifully finished shelf that only took me 2 full days to stain and finish. I immediately stopped what I was doing and shopped for brackets. I closed my laundry room and didn’t look at it again until the following weekend.
I made the investment and found some brackets from Cascade Iron Co. and they may have saved my life in a very small but meaningful way. They arrived Saturday morning the next week. I was excited again. I removed the part of the equation that was causing problems and found the solution. I was going to get it done and it was going to look great.
This time I was going to do it right. Held up my brackets, made my marks. This was going to be great because I can use two of my holes I started last weekend and the brackets covered some of the other holes. This was the best case scenario. I used the toggle bolts and started to drill the 1/2″ holes. Worked on getting the toggles in the holes for a while and couldn’t get them to go in so I tried to drill more to make the hole bigger to fit the toggles. Got it where it would work, and the springs wouldn’t open…Cue meltdown #2. I bought 2″ screws spray painted them spent a good 30 minutes trying to get the hole big enough and now the toggle won’t open… Guys, I bought like $30 worth of screws so far in the project. By the way, because I painted them I couldn’t return them… Yeah, icing meet cake.
So we went back and got 3″ toggle bolts. Painted them and got them to work. Problem solved. On to the next bracket…Guess what?!? It was on a stud! Remember that part about not being able to tell where the studs were through the 1/2″ thick paneling? Mmhm…
But now that I have a 1/2″ hole drilled into the stud I can’t use wood screws and the 3″ screws weren’t big enough… Guys, it’s embarrassing how many meltdowns this project gave me. However, this is real life. CUE MELTDOWN #3!
We went back to the store and got 4″ toggle bolts. Painted them. Got them working and finished the top two shelves. I then stood back and looked at my progress… Yeah, remember my bright idea of using the holes that I created before… hahaha. Yeah… they aren’t even remotely centered. From the left side of the shelf to the bracket measured 7″. From the right side of the shelf to the bracket measured 5″. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!?!? I was so frustrated at this point that I couldn’t help but laugh at myself. I felt like the biggest idiot. Who doesn’t double, and triple check before drilling 1/2″ holes in the wall? Me, I don’t. I know I’m not stupid but I definitely am good at doing stupid stuff.
So very long story short, my lessons learned with this project is:
- Wood paneling is beautiful but is also the devil and hides where studs are and that is very deceitful.
- Don’t drill holes in the wall when you are tired, but also triple measure before you drill…
- Buy every kind of screw that you think you may need. Try them before painting them and return the ones that don’t work…
- Leave it to the professionals… Making things from nothing is great but when it comes to engineering and load management for shelving… don’t make your own.
- Give yourself a break. Admit your mistakes, learn from them and keep going. When given the opportunity, laugh at yourself. Pardon my french but shit happens, dude. Sometimes you just gotta laugh and move on.
I love our house and making it our home but if there is anything that I can share with you that you take away from our journey, it is that nothing is ever as easy as you want it to be but it’s how you handle those tough situations and keep moving that matter… I can tell you that I definitely did not handle this situation very well at all. My poor husband deserves a medal of honor for dealing with me through this. I did, however, move on and I will keep doing what I am doing and will continue to learn from my mistakes. I’ll also continue to share them with you guys so that you can learn from my mistakes as well and hopefully save you a lot of time, money and frustration.