Putting up simple shelves in an alcove between a chimney breast and a return wall is a simple enough DIY project requiring only a few basic skills and tools.
Always wear suitable safety goggles when drilling fixings.
1. Always check that there are no pipes or cables hidden in the wall behind the fixing points. You can use a pipe and cable detector to check this.
2. Mark the required height of the shelf on the back wall of the alcove the measure the width at this point.
3. Mark this length on a timber batten and cut to length.
4. Drill the batten at intervals with a wood bit of suitable diameter to accommodate the screws to be used.
5. Use a countersink bit to countersink the holes so that your screws will sit flush with the surface of the batten.
6. Hold the batten in position against the wall and lay a spirit level on it, then adjust so that it is perfectly level.
7. Insert a bradawl in each of the fixing holes and push lightly to mark the wall.
8. Put the batten to one side then drill the wall at these marks using a masonry drill bit. Either use a depth stop on your drill if you have one or wrap masking tape around the drill bit to indentify when the correct depth has been reached. For information on fixing to plasterboard stud walls see our Wall Fixing – Hollow Walls guide
9. Insert suitable wall plugs in the holes and tap them home with a hammer.
10. Insert the screws through the batten and align them with the wall plugs.
11. Tighten the screws so that the batten is held securely against the wall.
12. Now measure the depth of the shelf front to back. Subtract 25mm or so and transfer this measurement to a new timber batten.
13. Cut the batten square at this mark then splay the corner with a 45 degree cut at the outer end. This will leave a much more pleasing finish that a square cut batten. Lightly smooth off the edges with abrasive paper.
14. Drill the batten towards either end with a suitable drill bit.
15. Countersink these holes as before to allow the screw heads to sit flush with the surface.
16. Hold the batten in position using a sprit level to ensure that it is perfectly horizontal.
17. Mark the fixing holes with a bradawl as before and put the batten to one side.
18. Drill and plug the fixing holes.
19. Insert the screws in the batten and align them with the plugged holes.
20. Secure the screws so that the batten is securely held.
21. Repeat the process with a batten on the other return wall.
22. You now need to carefully measure the shelf and cut to length.
23. Fix the shelf to the timber brackets with suitable screws at either end to prevent the shelf from moving or tipping.
24. Adding additional shelves in the alcove is simply a matter of repeating the process for as many shelves as are needed.