I add more craft room storage, using historic Knape & Vogt modular shelving

Next: I’m dropping a sink right into that 18″ deep shelf.

i used knape and vogt shelving in my retro office remodelYes, it takes “forever” to finish all the details in a room design project. As you will recall, step #1 in my retro crafty office remodel was to get the room gutted, add insulation, add recessed shelving, put on new drywall. Step #2 was for me and Denise to make a patchwork quilt of 18 different kinds of wallpapers, on all four walls. Once all the foundations of the room were in place, I could then proceed to follow up projects — the furniture, storage and decor. Followup project #1, I decided on and installed my crafting storage area using children’s storage and a salvaged countertop. Now I have completed followup project #2: Installing modular storage along the wall by the doors.As you can see, I was influenced by my recent story on the history of Knape & Vogt shelving — the original (1938) patented modular storage system — and that’s what I installed. Read on for more details about why I chose the KV, along with tips from my DIY experience installing this shelving.

I will install a sink on the shelf at the top, you can see the wall is plumbed
I will install a sink on the shelf at the top, you can see the wall is plumbed

Above: It is my intention, followup project number #3, #4 or #5, to drop a sink into the shelf at the top of the photo, above. Squint and you can see the plumbing is there between the middle two KV standards. Oh, I found a better photo, isn’t this just the most exciting thing you’ve seen all day?:

There is a bathroom on the other side of that wall, so when the wall was open I paid a plumber to bring the pipes into my office. Since my office is also now my crafting/collaging space, I thought it would be nice to have a small sink to wash my brushes and hands in. Also, down the line when I am a little old lady on a fixed income, if I want to have renters down here in the basement, I can make this office into a kitchen. Now I’m ready for the sink. Hope they like the wallpaper!

Why I chose the Knape & Vogt shelf system

Anyway, returning to my shelving choice, I chose the Knape & Vogt in great part because these standards (that’s what the long pole things that you screw into your studs are called) allow you to move shelves up or down to the exact height you need. The brackets that hold the shelves can be sized from like 6″ to 24″ deep — meaning you can get brackets deep enough to hold a shelf that can hold a kitchen countertop — and sink. Don’t trust my memory if you are going to do this, check the KV data sheets, but as I recall, the heavy duty (two prong thingie) standards that I used can hold up 300 pounds. I can easily adjust the height of my “sink counter” — I am going to set it to about 40″. Woah, I just adore the utility and flexibility of this set up.

Knape Vogt, or KV, shelving
At some point, I may cut down the top shelf to not make it so deep. Maybe only 8″ and put tchotchkes up there? It’s a “visual weight” thing, I’ll live with it a few days (or months haha) and see how I feel. LOVE the KVs cuz you can make these changes so easily!

Other reasons I chose the KV: I liked that KV was “the original” historic modular shelving system. This provenance impresses me. I found the standards and brackets to be terrific quality — heavy and well machined. The bright white powder coating (I assume) onto steel suited my 60s acid trip with white decor goin’ on. And, the Carr Hardware in Pittsfield had everything. I was able to buy what I needed, in stages, as I made decisions… I could see just what I was buying and I didn’t have to wait for internet purchases to arrive.

The shelves

I made the shelves myself out of wood I had around the house. Yes, the wood is kind of warpy, and my painting is indifferent. But, I figure the wood will unwarp when weight is put on to it. And no one but me, really, knows what a bad job I did painting. Like I said, I was indifferent. I have too much else going on right now.

Another reason that I cut the shelves myself, was that I needed 49″ shelves to bridge the span, and KV only sold shelves that went 47-7/16″ wide. I think I messed up by not making the standards exactly 16″ apart. That’s my main tip: As you are locating your studs, make sure the standard on the far right and the far left are not off — you need to get the 47-7/16″ shelf to fit. Honestly, if I had not been off in my calculation, I would have used their pretty thermofoiled white shelves and saved myself the painting headache.

Think hard about where you place the standards

Okay, I thought of a second tip, or rather, a thing to think about: I used 63″ high standards, because I did not have wall height to fit the next size, 80″. Also, I really did not want to see the standard all the way to the top if I didn’t need to. So, when I was trying to figure out where to start the standard.. I had to kind of guess how I would use the space at the top, and the bottom. My decision to kind of split the difference was not as good one as it could have been, because I thought of another trick that came into play…

KV makes special u-shaped wire bookend brackets, but I just used 7″ brackets. (Also, my hardware store did not carry the bookend brackets… so I got this idea to “improvise”.) I also used the 7″ brackets on each standard along the row — this provided further support to hold the long row of big books upright.

I used shelf brackets for bookends and between the books in a packed row

… Tip #3, I used 7″ brackets as bookends and also used brackets on each standard all the way across the row of books — this helps keeps the books upright in each section.

Going back to my issue of where to start the standards, if I would have started the standards several inches higher — just enough to also hold these “bookend” brackets at the top — I could have used this solution when and if I add books to the top in the future. Most of the books in the shelving now are my “historic” books used to reference when I have the blog. I have lots of books in other places in the house, so I don’t need to put them all here. Plus, I like having lots of decoration space, too. Nonetheless, it turned out I had extra standard at the bottom that I could have allocated to the top, for this flexibility reason.

Rubbermaid brackets seem to fit KV heavy duty standards

Part of my research in the project was looking at other systems similar to the KV at Home Depot and Lowes. I’ve kind of already forgotten the differences (bad reporter)(because I was set on the KV once I saw they were available, like I said, I wanted to have ‘the original’), but one takeaway I can pass along is that the Rubbermaid brackets seem to fit the KV heavy duty standard that I have. The Rubbermaid notches are different, though, so I’m not sure I would *trust* them to hold really heavy stuff like I’m going to trust the KV brackets to hold the weight they promise. I did not price shop, it seemed to me everything was “pretty close” in price. Close enough for me, and I got to buy from a locally owned hardware store, though I assure you I still have spent a small fortune at Home Depot and Lowes in my lifetime.

All that said: I am super happy, overall, with my KV system.


vintage curtain tie back used as apron hook

Above: I used a vintage curtain tie back as a hook for my apron. The curtain tie back is like a thumbtack. I just pushed it right into the shelf.
optima elite 3 typewriter
My Optima Elite 3 vintage typewriter.
Eat your heart out. I found it for $10 a a Goodwill about two years ago. Ummm, I still need to find a ribbon for it. But I will. I will. Want to use typed vintage words in my collages.
I am very happy with my wall unit of Knape Vogt modular shelves.
Now, onto the remaining projects in my office: Drop in the sink; a furniture set up for my Ergotron, and decorating the walls. And a few more its and bits, of course.

See all the stories about my crazy office remodel here.

See all my stories about Storage and Shelving solutions here. 

  1. IMissLiberty says:

    1. The side brackets don’t have to be at the very edge, so re the shelf lengths and standard positions, you could have had them inset more, studs willing, with shelving sticking over the edge. it might give more options (next time), although your “bookends” would be inset a bit, also.

    2. Generally, I like wider (heavier) shelving and the items on it, to be at the bottom, and get narrower (lighter) as I go up. Of course, I live in earthquake country. I’d have put the books on the bottom, because, even though you have a “floaty” shelving system, it can look top-heavy. And, if you’re sitting in a chair and need to reach for one…

    3. I agree with the idea of a narrower top shelf, although I like the idea of blocking dust settling on the books. I have to admit the last bookshelf I designed was really two kitchen top cabinets, with doors, hung on the wall down low, so I could hide the mismatched (including paperback) books from view and from dust.

    4. I think the standards can be cut, should one want to do so. I like the way you lined them up with the patchwork row, below.

    The sink would change those suggestions, and you could consider making a box unit, maybe with sliding doors, to put on the lowest shelf, although you could get a similar look with the books there.

    Or, hang top-cabinets below, and put the standards above it at a later date (or even notch the cabinet back to let the standards pass through).

    Don’t you just love Tinker Toys?

    1. pam kueber says:

      Great ideas. I agree heavy books on bottom. But: My sink and plumbing is going to be down there. No earthquakes here in Mass. Jinx.

  2. Stacey says:

    I really love the look of these shelves. There had been some discussion of K&V on previous posts, and I was wondering if you were going to use them. Making your own shelves is a good idea; I need thrifty ideas these days. Checking local hardware stores is another good idea; I had been looking at the K&V site for an internet purchase.

    This post is most welcome right now; my to-do list still has putting up shelves in our office. Haven’t had time yet.

    A sink in your office/craft room/woman cave. Wow, I’m jealous.

      1. Jeanne says:

        I’ve been a fan of K&V shelving for years and have used them in homes as well as at work in my office. Love them! But I must say that I think the worst part about installing them is removing all the labels!!

  3. Annie B. says:

    Hot zig, Pam. This is turning into the “Eames Office East”. Your live-in collage gets cooler by the minute.

    1. pam kueber says:

      I haven’t collaged on to any wallpaper squares yet. But I put a piece up every now and then just to see how it would look. Probably after I get all the furniture and shelving in.

  4. Blondie7 says:

    Wonderful decor Pam and I love the vintage lamp sitting across from your very cool vintage typewriter. I adore your shelving unit….looks great. I am excited about seeing photos of your newly installed vintage sink. Will you install a gooseneck faucet? Gooseneck faucets are soooo chic(the quality ones) and would look superb in your beautiful retreat office/crafting,collaging space. Great job!

  5. Jay says:

    Pam, great job. Your installation advice is well given. I used the white KV in my furnace room for bulk storage and even though the studs were exposed on the back side of the partition wall for the finished area of the basement, I anguished over the placement of the standards. I used the 48″ shelves. I commend your thriftiness at making your shelves. The ready made ones get pricey when you buy alot of them especially if deep and long.
    It’s important to make sure the standards are straight, top to bottom or the shelf brackets will be off. Never knew they made bookends as I want to install more for books. Your idea for using brackets is ingenious.

  6. Stacy says:

    Have you checked out The Container Store’s Elfa shelving? It’s a very similar system. If you find yourself wanting some different shelves, you might want to take a look. They’re you’re typical laminate, but in different finishes, and a lot stronger than what you get at Lowes or Home Depot. Have had them before, and liked them.

Leave a Reply

Commenting: Information

All comments are moderated, generally within 24 hours. By using this website you are agreeing to the site's >> Terms of Service, << which include commenting policies, and our >> Privacy Notice. << Before participating, read them in full.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.