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Welcome to our blog! We are a husband & wife photography team based in Madison, Wisconsin who document weddings & anniversaries for joyful couples who believe in marriage. This blog is a journal about real love stories, marriage & our own adventures along the way! We are so glad you're here — please stay awhile!




The Home Office Remodel | How to Install Your Own Floating Shelves.

January 11, 2017

When we moved into our condo, there was a rather small and very unique space in the upstairs loft that we decided, for our time living at the condo, would be a perfect place for our “home office!” For the first year or so of living here, however, we didn’t do anything to the space specifically … just moved our desk and chairs up there and called it “good.”

As wedding season ended and we had more time in the winter off-season, we decided it was time to update the office and make it a little bit more enjoyable to work in! We recruited some of our best friends to help us (one — for their company, but two — they are MUCH better with home projects than we are), and we made a whole weekend out of it!! We learned a lot, made a few mistakes, shared a lot of laughs, some Glass Nickel Pizza & Fantasy Factor beers, and are SO happy with the final result! I am super excited to FINALLY be sharing the end result with you today!


  • 2 — 3 x1x10 foot maple boards (for shelves)
  • 2 – 2x1x10 foot maple boards (for shelf faceplates)
  • 1 Gallon of Behr Paint (Color: Broadway)
  • Paint brushes, one paint roller, one paint pan and one container of frog tape
  • 1 plastic tarp
  • Finishing nails
  • 4 inch coarse thread drywall screws
  • Minwax Wood Putty (Colonial Maple)
  • Minwax Wood Finish (Gunstock)
  • Minwax Wipe-On Poly (Clear Satin)
  • Titebond II Premium Wood Glue



  • Drill
  • Hammer
  • Tape Measure
  • Sawhorses
  • Clamps
  • Level
  • Triangle
  • Sandpaper and block


Total Cost: $150

This is what the space looked like beforehand. I also wanted to take a picture of the sawhorses that the desktop sits on, as we stained those to match the shelves during the project!

These are the supplies we used for painting. We chose this paint because it is a paint AND primer in one. Additionally, the eggshell enamel finish is more durable and offers more protection than a flat paint, but still maintained the matte-type feel we were hoping for.

Putting a tarp down to protect from paint spillage is ALWAYS a good idea!!

First, we found the studs in the wall using a stud finder. The location of the studs is represented by the vertical lines marked in pencil. Here, Caleb is marking for the heights of the shelves along the stud line after we decided how far apart we wanted them. We wanted two 10 foot floating shelves that spanned almost the entire length of the wall above the desk.

We marked where the top of the desk would be and used this marker, along with the ceiling, to help us decide exactly where the shelves would be. The horizontal lines represent the shelves.

After we marked and traced where the shelves would be, we put a 10 foot piece of tape on the wall to represent the shelves along the horizontal lines and marked on the tape where the studs were/where we would need to be drilling on the boards for the studs.

We then took the tape off the wall and put it on top of the boards that we were using for the shelves.

This helped us to know exactly where to drill the screws on the boards (we drilled wherever there was an “S” on the tape, indicating a stud).

We used screws to anchor the boards into the studs in the walls, and finishing nails and wood glue to connect the front face plates to the shelves. We used maple boards for our shelves and learned that hand driving nails into maple is next to IMPOSSIBLE (we recommend using a nail gun!).

Once the spots of the studs were marked, we removed the tape and began pre-drilling the screws.

We pre-drilled the screws part of the way through the boards before putting the shelves up on the wall and drilling the rest of the way through and into the studs. Again, even with drilling, the maple boards were SO tough that we broke a drill bit! We actually had to use hand soap to lubricate the screws a bit and make the drilling process a bit more bearable!

We had the observation crew always on stand-by (let’s be honest, I was totally part of the observation — and motivation! — crew as well!) 🙂

In the photo on the bottom left, you can see about how far we pre-drilled the screws before putting the shelves up on the wall.

We then drilled the shelves a little way into the wall using the lines we had previously drawn as guides …

… and made sure they were level and we liked where they were.

We then pulled them off the wall to sand the surfaces to be ready for staining!

Next up, stain! We did one coat …

… then sanded them down again, and then did another coat! We finished with a coat of poly! Apparently I forgot to take a picture of the final part, but after the shelves were up and drilled into the wall, we attached the front lip/faceplate (which we did the same staining procedure to) to the shelves with finishing nails and the wood glue shown previously. We then used the Miniwax Wood Putty that matched the color of the stain to cover the heads of the finishing nails.

Before and after!!

In the bottom right image, you can get a better look at what I’m talking about when I’m referring to the “faceplate” of the shelves. We attached these to prevent the picture frames from sliding off the shelves … and they just give the shelves a nice, clean, finished looked on front!

The shelves are filled with all the things that inspire Caleb and I most … our vows, a wedding picture, our favorite musicians, a picture of Vivian, a painting representative of marriage from one of our dear friends, some of our favorite quotes and words and places … 🙂 We love it and are SO happy to have these pieces to look at and inspire us each and every day!!

Lastly, I took these final two photos on my iPhone yesterday, just because I thought it could be helpful to show perspective on the type of space we were working with. Kind of small and awkward … but we didn’t let that scare us away from creating something we now LOVE! Anything is possible! 🙂

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below and we will be more than happy to explain anything further!!


  1. Mai

    January 12th, 2017 at 6:35 am

    Beautiful work. I love your office!!! I will make sure to use this post for future reference! <3

  2. Maison Engel

    January 12th, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    Thank you SO much!!!!! YAY!

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