Follow Up: DIY Behind the Couch Shelf Directions

One of our most popular posts to date is the infamous DIY Shelf Behind the Couch. We love this thing and apparently many of you do too. Here’s the original post.

overhead of shelf

We originally decided on the shelf because our room is not well-shaped for a coffee table but we still needed somewhere for lamps, beverage glasses, etc. Now that we have had it for more than eight months I love it. It’s the perfect height to use to display things, but also hide things like books, my laptop, etc. Unlike a coffee or side table I can’t knock it over and spill everything [not that that ever happens to me]. As an added bonus, it’s one less thing to move whilst vacuuming. So all in all, we love this.

I thought it might be worthwhile to go back and explain a little better about how Andy did it. I wasn’t even home when he did it so truly, I had nothing to do with this project.


Ready to make one for yourself? Let’s go! If you have any questions we don’t answer, feel free to leave a comment and we’ll try to remember 😉

Directions for your behind the couch shelf:

Measure your couch and determine how long you need your behind the couch shelf to be. Ours is a sectional, so we obviously needed an L shape. But you could do this for any shape or size.

Andy bought two 1x10x12 ft pieces of wood from Lowes. One board will meet the corner and the other will then bump up to the other board.  I’m sure you could do it so both boards meet in the middle but that seems unnecessary. Measure first and cut.

He ended up using two different stains for the wood. He used a darker one first, then decided it was too dark. He sanded it down and then stained it with a lighter stain. We used Minwax stains, one of which was Ebony. But you can use anything you want and might want to adjust based upon your floor color, couch color, etc. He did three coats and then finished it off with a dose of Minwax Satin Poly, the wipe on kind. Let it dry according to instructions.

The coolest part of our shelf is the distressing. Basically you need to beat up your boards. Watch a gangster film or Quentin Tarantino movie first. Take different size hammers and hit the board in different places. Hit it with screws sideways to get cool line marks and/or take a screw driver and hit it sideways. Andy also used a punch to put  holes in it. Really there is no wrong way to do this, and you can skip it totally if you aren’t into the distressed look. For us the distressing is really key to the whole look.

behind_couch_shelf_3See the scrapes and scratches? 

Once you are done with that you are ready to affix it to the wall.

Buy L brackets to affix to the wall. Andy used about five on each side of the shelf. It’s important to attach it to the studs. Check it with a level as you go, and measure from the floor up.

You’re done! This took Andy about a weekend due to the dry time between coats.

One more thing…our shelf has outlets in it. That’s totally optional, but if you want to do that, here is how:

Before installing the shelf, Andy used a jig saw to cut out room for the electrical housing. He bought an electrical whip that has a plug on one end and then electrical cable on the other. Then he bought a housing box and electrical outlet cover just like you’d use for a wall outlet. Once your boards are installed, just connect everything and put the outlet cover one. Done! Let there be light! Or power. Or…whatever.


There’s a lot of room for personalizing and making this project your own. I’ve enjoyed decorating the shelf and find it extremely convenient to magazines, papers or whatever I want off the couch now!


Thanks for reading!


12 thoughts on “Follow Up: DIY Behind the Couch Shelf Directions

  1. MarcieDail says:

    I love this, Becca. I extra appreciate it now that Little Man has Go-go-gadget arms and can pull everything off our side tables.
    You’re so smart.

  2. Johnd634 says:

    Hey there, You have done a great job. I’ll definitely digg it and personally recommend to dgadcbafgfed

  3. jacquiejn says:

    Could you explain more about the outlets that were installed? Are they hard wired? Or, do they just plug into an existing outlet? I LOVE this idea. We just got a sectional and I’m going to do this – this week! But, I would really like to know how you did the outlets before I start… THANK YOU for your awesome idea!

  4. Sarah says:

    I love the idea but have a safety question about the power in the table… if you do happen to knock over a glass of your chosen beverage, the liquid could cause shocks or at best breaker/fuse to blow… any ideas on safe implementations?

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