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DIY: Kitchen Shelves – A place for my “cows”

This is probably my most, most, most favorite project we have completed to date on the little house. It was also the biggest pain-in-the-you-know what project. I got to thinking…if this project was a big, time consuming pain and it is my favorite….what does that say about me?

I suppose I am a big, time-consuming pain-in-the-you-know what!

The reason this project was a pain was because it took about 35 hours. Just guessing. Give or take five hours. In the end, it was worth it. Even John and Ron agree. This time around we created shelves. They are pretty sweet, even if they took a little more time, sweat and measuring than pre-made ones. The shelves we made replaced this mirror.


So far, we had updated to this point:


I promised Ron and John I would find a new spot for the important first-aid items that were previously housed in the medicine cabinet/mirror. My idea for shelves came from the realization that most kitchens have one of three things above the sink:

1. A pretty view of the outdoors.

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2. An open air view of the bar, breakfast nook or living room. Photo by: Dear Lillie.


3. Or, shelves. For displaying lovely, lovely dishes! Photos by: Apartment Therapy &

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Options one and two were pretty much out for this house, so we went with option number three. Shelves! Sounds simple, right? Nope. For this project, we fell into our usual roles. Even if it is a bit chaotic around here, at least we are starting to know where we stand.

The (very qualified) Crew:

Sierra – Chief Painter & Inspiration-finder    (I am very tidy painter. I never get paint anywhere except the intended location. Except when my hair gets involved. It is not pleasant.)


Ron – Head Carpenter & Designer   (It was his idea to cut a three-inch corner onto the edge of the shelves. Nice touch!)


John – Captain of Quality Controal & Measure Three Times, Cut Once Police


The Steps:

1. Prepare your painting surface. Again! The board I bought was pine from Lowe’s. They cut it in half for me so it would fit in my vehicle. I didn’t know they would do that, the cutting was free and the board was about $20.


2. Gather primer & semi-gloss paint. Again! I am still using the same two gallons.


3. Get busy painting. Try to keep it all on the boards.


4. Paint the trim pieces, too.

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5. Cut the shelves to fit. Cut the trim pieces to fit. We added these so the selves had a nice rounded edge. Don’t forget to add the trim pieces onto the final measurements for width and length – it adds about a quarter inch.

6. Attach the trim pieces with “finishing nails” and cover the holes with wood filler so it is smooth.

7. Repaint.

8. Attach the pretty, scroll-y brackets. The brackets were $10 for a set of two.


9. Find the studs. Nope, not John and Ron. The ones in the wall. They were spaced out every 16 inches. That’s were we lined up our brackets. That way they can safely hold LOTS of dishes.


10. Drill pilot holes and make sure they are level.


11. Attach shelf number one. At first it wasn’t quite level because the top the bracket was out a bit more than the bottom of the bracket due to a width difference from the paneling and the backsplash. So, we had to search high and low through the whole darn farm to find six, little washers to put behind the brackets. These created just enough of a spacer so the shelf was level. Crisis averted.


12. Attach the second shelf. Now, time for the fun part. Filling it with a few pretty dishes!



I mentioned that I love Fiesta dinnerware. The solids are wonderful, long-lasting and timeless but I believe – with dishes and quilts – solids are better with a few patterns thrown in!

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Being a pattern-loving quilter, I simply fell for these flowers, leaves, polka dots and stripes in this “Espana” dishes line.


These dishes are great because four of the the colors match up exactly with the Fiesta dinnerware ones. I registered for a few of this line to “complement” the solids in the Fiesta ware. It was just like planning a new quilt. It was joyful.


John’s stepmother, Monica, kindly helped me find a bunch of fun stuff a Macy’s. The day we registered a few of the Espana pieces were on clearance. Meaning they would be GONE FOREVER by the time our wedding rolled around. Clearly, something had to be done! Seriously, how cute are these salt-and-pepper cows? Judging by the color, I am fairly certain they are Charolais. We couldn’t leave them homeless!


Between the two of use we bought these four pieces.


It was a wonderful early wedding gift!


Now, they are happily adorning these shelves and I am super-duper grateful for Monica’s gift and the patience from John and Ron with building the shelves. I know this is a short-lived phase. Soon, it is finally going to dry up outside and they will be busy planting & not working in the kitchen.


I guess I am sorta thankful for all this late-spring snow. We would have never gotten this project done in a “normal” spring.

Thanks for reading! Sierra Shea



  1. Lori

    Sierra, that is a perfect addition to above the sink. The dishes are wonderful, too. I bet you walk into the kitchen with amazement on the transformation.

  2. Katie

    I love the shelves Sierra!!! I can’t to see the fiesta ware bring even more awesomeness to the kitchen! In the meantime, your cows are pretty stinkin’ cute!

    • Sierra Shea

      Eee! Thanks Katie! Hope your house is coming along too.

  3. Laurel Wilson

    Your backsplash solution is perfect for the house. You are truly managing to create a friendly welcoming home on a shoestring.



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Hey, I’m Sierra Shea! I am so glad you are here. 

Where do I start with writing to introduce this blog? At the beginning, I suppose: I’ve been writing on various platforms online since 2013. I started blogging shortly after moving to South Dakota.

I am a mother and a maker at heart. I’m so grateful to be married to John and mother of three: Joslyn, J.D. and Jesse.

I am a self-taught decorator and designer. I am a brand new shepherdess and a Spiritual Director.

I love living in South Dakota, even though the winters & the wind can be a near-daily struggle.

Blogging is a grounding force in my life and it helps get me out of my head, unstuck and moving in the directions I always hoped I’d be going!