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Pretty Handy Girl: DIY Glass Window Shelves

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DIY Glass Window Shelves

I love african violets! They can be fickle, but once they have the right amount of light, and slightly damp soil, they will happily put on a show for you. My violets used to perch on the kitchen window sill, but occasionally they would take a suicidal nose dive into the sink.

So, I decided to install two glass shelves over the sink.

Would you like to install your own glass shelves between two kitchen cabinets? It is a relatively easy project, but does require two sets of hands for one step. The directions below will take you through the step-by-step process for installing 2 glass shelves.


3/16 inch tempered glass
quarter round moulding
paint (to match your kitchen cabinets)
medium size paint brush
painters tape
drill w/ bits
finish nails 1.25" long
nail set
wood putty or caulk
flat toothpick or wood shim


1. First measure your window width and subtracted 0.25" from the measurement.) Then measure the depth of your kitchen cabinets to the window frame (or tile, whatever sticks out the furthest).

Take those measurements to a glass manufacturer and have them cut two pieces of 3/16" tempered glass. Make sure that the edges will be smooth. And, definitely ask for the tempered glass. (My shelves never broke, but I banged them occasionally while being overzealous about washing dishes.)

2. Using the measurement you took for the depth of your cabinets, cut 8 lengths of quarter round (four for each glass shelf you are hanging.)

3. Prime and then paint the quarter round to match your cabinets.

4. Determine the height where you want your glass shelves to be. (I put each shelf at the same height as my window grill pieces.) Use a level and draw lines on your cabinet on one side of the window.

5. Pre-drill three holes (the size of your finish nails) into your quarter round.

6. Using a piece of painters tape, attach once piece of the quarter round to your cabinet. This is your shelf support piece, so make sure that the flat edge is facing up. Gently nail the finish nails through the predrilled holes and into the cabinet. Repeat this step for your other shelf support (on the same side.)

7. Rest one glass shelf on one piece of the installed quarter round. You will need an assistant to help hold the glass shelf up as you level it.

8. Make a mark on the under side of your glass.

9. Double check that the mark is level (from front to back), and line your next piece of quarter round below the line. Repeat steps 5 & 6 above until you have the four shelf supports installed.

10. Gently rest your glass shelves on the supports.

11. Pre-drill holes in your four remaining quarter round strips.

12. Set wood shims (or toothpicks) on top of the glass shelves and up against the cabinets on both ends. Rest your quarter round strips on top of the shims. This should give you a slight space between the glass and the quarter round. Now, tape the quarter round pieces in place and REMOVE BOTH glass shelves and the shims.

13. Nail your quarter round pieces in place. Use a nail set to countersink (set the nail below the wood surface) all your nails. Fill the nail holes with wood putty or caulk and touch it up with your paint.

14. When the paint has dried, slide in your shelves. The shelves should slide in easily and should not be tight.

15. Put some plants or other accessories on your new shelves! And enjoy.

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At September 28, 2010 at 1:47 AM , Blogger Stephanie said...

I love this idea. How easy you make it look too!

At September 28, 2010 at 6:47 AM , Blogger Tracy's Trinkets and Treasures said...

How do you make all those great diagrams? They really help make your tutorials easy to understand. I appreciate that. Great shelf!

At September 28, 2010 at 7:06 AM , Blogger bet1975 said...

wow you got me thinking! your tutorial makes me up for the challenge!

At September 28, 2010 at 7:48 AM , Blogger Melissa said...

Those look great. I wish I had a kitchen window. Really, I do. I often miss it.

At September 28, 2010 at 9:42 AM , Blogger Amanda@The Hand Me Down House said...

What an absolutely fantastic idea! I love that it lets so much light in AND you have a great place to put stuff above the sink. Ingenious, Brittany! :)

At September 28, 2010 at 9:50 AM , Blogger Something Nice and Pretty said...

I love this idea! Thanks for sharing!

At September 28, 2010 at 10:42 AM , Blogger Amanda@The Hand Me Down House said...

Okay, Brittany -- these are too awesome NOT to share! I linked this up on my FB page -- just loving them!!

At September 28, 2010 at 12:16 PM , Blogger Anita @ GoingALittleCoastal said...

Those look great! I love the diagrams. I wish I had a window above my sink now :)

At September 28, 2010 at 2:49 PM , Blogger Just this... Alice said...

I am sure your African Violets appreciate their new home on that fantastic shelving you made just for them....and others. This is an ingenious idea for wasted spaces.

At September 28, 2010 at 2:53 PM , Blogger Momma Rhyne said...

Genious... any ideas of how to support the middle of a 8' window span? So great though. Love your ideas~

At September 28, 2010 at 3:49 PM , Blogger Ellie said...

These are great! I emailed my husband the picture so we can save it for future reference. Thanks for the detailed instructions!

At September 28, 2010 at 8:31 PM , Blogger Katie @ Not Just Decorating said...

What a great idea! I would love to do this over my sink!

At September 28, 2010 at 9:43 PM , Blogger Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Great tutorial! I love that idea too!

At September 28, 2010 at 10:03 PM , Blogger Chris said...

Beautiful idea, and so well executed! Hopefully those violets will thrive.

At September 28, 2010 at 11:34 PM , Anonymous Becky@OrganizingMadeFun said...

Your diagrams are awesome! What a great idea...something I could totally do! Of course, my kitchen sink area is the hottest part of the house and they would probably die, but I could do something like that! Super!!

At September 29, 2010 at 1:31 AM , Blogger Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing!

At September 29, 2010 at 1:40 AM , Blogger said...

Wow, those are gorgeous! Thanks so much for the thorough how-to, I'll be linking.

At September 29, 2010 at 7:19 AM , Blogger Su said...

I so want these too. . these and the pear. . .so I think you may have me attempt to make these myself instead of waiting for hubby to have some time to do it for me. . . you almost got me there. . .

At September 30, 2010 at 1:01 AM , Blogger Lori@Paisley Passions said...

What a great idea!!! Hopping over from BCD. I host a linky party too. Would love you to link up if you have time :)

~Lori @ Paisley Passions
Paisley Passions Linky Party Thrilling Thursdays

At September 30, 2010 at 3:44 PM , Blogger Michelle L. said...

What a fantastic tute! You are way cool, I love this idea and how easy you make it.

At October 1, 2010 at 2:46 AM , Blogger gnee @ Singing With Birds said...

Congratulations Brittney! You did it again! You made this week's Top 5 Hits. Thanks for all of your terrific ideas...I try not to feature you every your new pix!

At October 1, 2010 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Amanda @ Serenity Now said...

Nice project. Love the shelves above the windows. :) Please add my party button or a link back to me so that I can keep your link up on my list. Thanks.

At October 1, 2010 at 9:10 AM , Blogger Paula said...

Great project! Your new shelves will be fun to accessorize with each changing season.

At October 1, 2010 at 1:04 PM , Blogger Michaela Noelle said...

This is such a fun project. It adds so much to the room! Great tutorial. Stopping by from Amanda's link up (:


At October 1, 2010 at 2:35 PM , Blogger Deanne said...

great idea, great tute!

At October 1, 2010 at 2:44 PM , Blogger Twill Jill said...

You ARE a pretty handy girl! Found you on One Pretty Thing. I happen to have some old glass slats from a door and I've been dying to find a way to use them. Thanks for the inspriation and clear directions!

At October 1, 2010 at 11:26 PM , Blogger Lori@Paisley Passions said...

Still lovin' this idea! Thanks SO much for joining in on Thrilling Thursdays @ Paisley Passions. I love to see the creative talent of other fellow bloggers. Hope you to see you again soon :)
~Lori S.
Thrilling Thursdays @Paisley Passions

At October 3, 2010 at 12:21 PM , Anonymous Alyssa @ Clever Penguin said...

I saw your post for these glass shelves featured on One Pretty Thing and came straight over. This is something I've always loved, and being a clever (ok, lazy) girl, I'm always happy to use someone else's directions. Thanks so much for posting exactly what you did and with such great diagrams!

At October 4, 2010 at 9:15 PM , Blogger Ocean Breezes and Country Sneezes said...

Oh my, I love this idea! Nice job!

At December 16, 2010 at 5:14 AM , Anonymous glass paint said...

i want to make a beautiful glass window in my kitchen.thanks for your blog.


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