Apartment Décor DIY: Nautical Rope Shelf

The one month date for our apartment move is upon us, and let’s just say that it hasn’t been smooth sailing the entire way. I like to joke that our apartment has gone through three phases from the moment the lease was signed: 1) Void. 2) The Hazard Zone. 3) Work in Progress. We are now comfortably into phase three, but now a lot of the real decision making has to begin — it’s time to decorate! This is a time that can be beyond frustrating when budgets are low, time is of the essence, and decorating just isn’t your thing, but it can be a great time if none of the above items apply to you. In my case, I’m stuck right in the middle of a low budget, not enough time, and a love of decorating and DIY projects. So to push the apartment a little further in to phase three, this weekend was all about a fun, cost-effective DIY project. The nautical rope shelf; designed specifically for our barren bathroom. The best part, it only took one day to complete and for less than $60! Here’s how:

What You Need: 

21′ of 3/4” rope (cut into 2 even pieces)               3 1×8 22” poplar boards                   Roll of masking tape

A drill with a 7/8” spade drill bit                              A sturdy wall hook                             Paint brushes

1 3/8” dowel rod cut into 8 2” pieces                    1 quart of paint                                    Sand paper

Tip: For an even cheaper version, choose a less expensive board. We went with a more quality board simply for better grain and look. 


Step 1: Drill, Sand, Paint

After you’ve gathered all the supplies, the first step is to drill holes into each corner of your three boards. To allow plenty of room for the rope and shelf space, we drilled our holes 1 1/2” away from each corner side. Once you finish with the drilling process, be sure to sand around each rough end of your boards and around the newly drilled holes. This will reduce the risk of splinters and makes for a better finish. After sanding, paint each board entirely. For our paint color, we chose Valspar’s Indigo Streamer in eggshell finish.


Step 2: Thread Rope

After your boards are completely dry, it is time to thread the rope. Cut your rope into two even pieces using heavy duty scissors, then wrap the rope ends with masking tape to avoid fraying. Start by placing all three boards on their sides with the holes lining up, then thread your rope through all the bottom left holes. One you reach the top, leave approximately 4′ of rope for hanging and then thread the rope down all the bottom right holes. Follow the same process using your second piece of rope to thread the holes at the top of your boards. The results should look like the picture below. Then adjust the bottom board so that there is about 2′ of rope below each corner, knot each rope end, cut any extra length, and fray the ends.


Step 3: Place & Secure Shelves 

Using a measuring tape for accuracy, slide the two top boards until they are set evenly apart from each other. For plenty of space, we set our boards 8” apart. Once the boards are in place, insert a dowel piece through the ropes under corner hole.  This will hold the boards in place.

Tip: To make inserting the dowel easier, have someone untwist the rope while you insert the dowel pieces. This allows the pieces to slide in with ease. 


Step 4: Prepare the Wall Hook

Now that your shelf is ready to be hung, you need to prepare the wall hook. We used a Homescapes EZ Ancor, which you can find at your local Lowe’s or Home Depot for roughly $9.00 and they hold up to 30 lbs of weight.


Step 5: Hang and Enjoy!

                                        SONY DSC SONY DSC

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Author My First Apartment

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Audra is a recent college graduate and an aspiring writer based in her home state of Georgia. She’s a lover of the sweetest Southern tea, warm weather, and decorating with lots of color, DIY projects, and shabby chic pieces. Her apartment living journey is still young, so she’s busy navigating the ups and downs and learning along the way. For more from Audra, follow her on Pinterest or check out her website shepenspretty.com.

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Comments (6)

  1. Avatar DecorNation

    I actually saw the same DIY with the planks in a brown color, but this looks cool too. The shelf matches the curtains too and I really like how easily it can be made. Nicely done. Gives a cool look to the washroom. :)

  2. Avatar kidney

    Consequently, after spending much time on the internet at long last We’ve found an individual in which definitely really does know what they are discussing thanks a great deal great post

  3. Avatar Thomas

    If I might make a suggestion. To make the shelves a little more stable so weight on one side doesn’t tip it over, take your dowel pieces and put them on top of the boards as well as the bottom. Wouldn’t want to put a small metal basket on the side that would tip over!

    • Audra Audra

      Thanks, Thomas! That’s really a great idea. I have some extra dowel pieces left, so they would be very easy to add! :]