The Elephant Has Landed – My Mona Lisa Shelf

Paintings stacked on Ikea hack shelf

I paint in the garage because I'm allergic to my paint medium and need ventilation.
Wanna see something scary? Click to see my messy garage studio!

Years ago, I made an Ikea hack shelf (above) to help with storage and stacked paintings gingerly to ensure they wouldn't rub against each other.

It didn't take long for the shelf to fill. Then I'd lean paintings up against all sorts of things – even garbage cans, anything that would hold. There was no room to walk, save for a narrow pathway. The mess was driving me bonkers. I needed to do something. 

Click to watch video

Small paintings on cart

Paintings leaning on stuff
Someone, anyone, please save me!

I searched online for ready-made storage solutions, but none of them ticked all the boxes for my needs. The only ones that came close carried hefty price tags of over $2K. For me, that was out of the question.

The shelf on the left couldn't fit tall canvases, and the one on the right
didn't have enough vertical dividers to separate the paintings.

So I got busy

Starting with a metal frame from Home Depot, I knocked supports together. Then I wielded my jigsaw thingy to make plywood slots and dividers. To finish it off, I sealed the wood to prevent warping and sanded the edges. Wood splinters suck!

Assembling a shelf in the garage studio.

The artist cutting plywood outside the garage.

My first time cutting wood. Ugh! So much sawdust. 😱 

Perfection is for sissies

For you shop geeks out there, don’t be judgey on me now, lol. I know this shelf may look amateurish to you, but to this beholder’s eyes? Mwah. 😘  🙌🏼  😍 Perfetto! 

3-tier shelf

3-tier ShelfTa-da! My shelf is finished. The bottom shelf can accommodate 3-foot tall panels.

Paintings can now stack neatly and slide in and out without risk of damage, thanks to vertical dividers and carpeted shelf liners. Not only can the shelf accommodate my standard panel sizes – and lots of them – it even has a spot for cardboard storage. Plus, look at those gleaming casters. They're ready to rock ’n roll! 


Caster bling. Come on, admit it. You're jealous, aren't you? 🤣  🤣  🤣 

shelf carpet liners

Carpeted shelf floor. Smooth action!

In the end, I got myself a new shelf, including all the bells and whistles, for a fraction of the cost of the ready-made alternatives. Bonus: the garage studio is no longer an obstacle course. Woohoo! 

It's my Mona Lisa 😍

So what if it took forever, lol? I know, I know. I shoulda taken Shop in high school. 😆 But forced to work within my budget and limitations, I couldn't have done it any other way.

Taking my time, I measured, remeasured, cut, painted, and sanded. After all, I'm the kid that colors inside the lines, remember? And although the shelf may not be perfect in the classic sense, I'm happy to say it's imperfectly perfect for me. 😘  😘  😘 

Art quote



Arts in the Park, Richmond, VA
April 30 – May 1

Artsplosure, Raleigh, NC
May 21 – 22

New Elements Gallery
TBD Summer 2022