DIY Above Window Shelf & Curtain Rod

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Leveling the shelf prevents display items from falling.
Leveling the shelf prevents display items from falling. (Image: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Vertical storage and display space is sometimes overlooked, but shelves over windows can use part of it creatively. Incorporating a curtain rod lends cohesiveness, as opposed to mounting a separate rod to the window. Triangular-shaped wooden shelf supports and a wooden dowel rod are the primary components of a simple curtain-rod-and-shelf combination. Choose supports with rectangular, wooden mounting plates fastened to the back. The plates fasten to the wall with four screws, which add stability.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Dowel rod, 1-inch diameter
  • Hand saw
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • 1-by-8 board
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Hole saw set
  • Power drill
  • 2 wooden, triangular-shaped shelf brackets with attached mounting plates and hardware
  • Scrap block of wood
  • 4-foot level
  • Curtains
  • Finials

Measure the width of the window from the left edge of the left vertical trim molding to the right edge of the right trim. Measure windows without trim from left to right across the wall opening.

Measure the dowel rod to the width of the window plus 4 inches, and mark it with a pencil. Cut the dowel straight across at the mark with a hand saw, and sand the rough end by hand with fine sandpaper.

Measure the 1-by-8 board to the same length as the dowel, and mark it on the edge. Brace the lipped edge of a carpenter’s square on the edge of the board at the mark, and trace the perpendicular edge of the square across the board. Cut the board along the pencil mark, and sand the rough end.

Choose a hole saw that is a slightly larger diameter than the dowel rod, and attach it to a power drill’s chuck or connector. A hole saw is a short, hollow, cylindrical- or tube-shaped shaped saw blade with a drill bit projecting out through the center.

Set a shelf bracket on its side with the attached mounting plate past the edge of the work table. Determine the spot on the triangular portion of the bracket where you want the dowel rod to slip through, and mark it. Repeat to mark the other bracket.

Set one bracket flat on its side atop a block of scrap wood. Place the drill tip of the hole saw on the pencil mark. Drill a hole through the bracket, cutting into the block as needed to finish the hole. Repeat to drill the second bracket.

Set a 4-foot level across the top of the window trim molding or opening. If the bubble is centered, the top is level. If not, adjust the level until the bubble is centered, then trace the bottom edge of the level on the wall. Extend the line across the top of the window, stopping at the outer edges of the opening or trim.

Align the bottom right corner of one shelf bracket support plate with the upper left corner of the window trim or the left end of the pencil line. The shelf support at the top of the bracket should project toward you.

Level the mounting plate. Insert a screw that came with the brackets through each of the mounting plate's four holes with a power drill and a Phillips head bit. Repeat on the right side of the window, aligning the lower left corner of the plate with the upper right corner of the window or pencil line.

Tap the button-shaped screw hole covers that came with the brackets into the screw holes with a hammer.

Slip the dowel rod through the upper casing of the curtains. Insert the left end of the rod through the hole in the left shelf bracket. Push it through to the left until you can raise the whole rod, then slide the rod to the right and insert it through the right bracket.

Adjust the curtains as needed, and screw the finials into the ends of the dowel. Set the shelf on top of the brackets.

Tips & Warnings

  • Stain, paint or seal the shelf.
  • Insert 1 1/2-inch screws through the top of the shelf and into the top edge of the brackets, if desired.
  • If the mounting screws are loose, remove them and insert toggle bolts instead. Toggle bolts have a butterfly shaped support that expands on the back side of the wall, adding stability.
  • Wear safety glasses when drilling with the hole saw.

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