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How to build shelves for alcoves

Fitting alcove shelves is an easy and smart way to create more space in your home, follow our guide below for best results.


  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Steel ruler 
  • Tenon saw
  • Mitre box 
  • Spirit level
  • Power drill
  • Twist drill bits
  • Masonry bits
  • Countersink bit
  • Screwdriver


  • Wood for supporting battens 50 × 25mm
  • Timber or MDF shelves cut to fit alcove
  • 63mm No. 8 screws and wall plugs
  • Wood filler


Positioning the battens

1. For each shelf, cut one batten to the length of the back wall and 2 to the depth of the shelf itself. Drill and countersink screw holes no more than 300mm apart through each batten. Battens are fairly unobtrusive even if left square-ended, but to make them less noticeable, the ends can be angled or curved.

2. Mark the position of each shelf, checking that the spacing between them is large enough for the items you want to store there—don’t forget to allow for the thickness of the shelving material, too.

3. Hold the rear batten to the mark with a spirit level on top. Mark the wall through one end hole with the twist bit. Switch to a masonry bit and drill and drill and plug the hole. Drive in a screw part way.

Drilling a hole

 4. Hold the rear batten level and mark the other holes in the same way. 

drilling a hole

 5. Position the first side batten, ensuring that it is level with the rear one. Mark drill holes and screw in battens in the same way as for the rear batten. Repeat for the other side batten. You will be able to hide the countersunk screw heads with wood filler.

using spirit level


Fitting the shelves

1. Few walls are true, and your alcove is unlikely to have perfect right angles. Hold a square of card in each internal angle, and if the alcove tapers, cut shelves to the narrower measurement and hide any gaps with beading once the shelves are in place. 

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