How to Build a DIY Floating Shelf with an Opening for a Plant

DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant

No matter how big your house is, you’ll always find yourself needing more space for declutter. There are many different ways to declutter and organize without ruining the look of the house. One of the solutions to this problem of space is installing floating shelves. These shelves provide an aesthetically pleasing appearance and can be very useful in virtually every room. They are inexpensive and strong, even though they have no visible supports. I decided to build a shelf for our bedroom that would have a live plant with hanging leaves. But I was concerned that one of my kids could pull on the branch of the plant and the pot would end up on their head. To solve this problem I build a DIY Floating Shelf with an Opening for the Plant.

Depending on how much space you have or the look of a particular corner, you can build a few shelves with different sizes of plants. It’s a great way to make an empty space look cozier.

DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant

Having an opening for the pot makes the plant sit firmly inside the floating shelf. So if anyone pulls on it accidentally, it will not fall. Since dealing with a live plant, you could easily place a pan inside the shelf so that if you overwater the plant the pan will hold extra water. Or if you choose, you can omit the hole in the shelf altogether and use the shelf for décor purposes or whatever else you’d like

What makes the shelf unique is that the bracket that supports the shelf box is hidden from view. The support is attached to the wall with screws and then the hollow shelf slides over the support. A floating shelf can be used to create extra space around the house. Its design makes it possible to install the shelf in areas of the room where traditional shelves wouldn’t be practical. They can be used in the bedroom in place of the headboard or table. The shelves leave more floor space while allowing you to store your items conveniently.

You also might be interested in Offsetting Shelf and Curved Wooden Shelf that I’ve made.

Floating Shelf for a Plant PDF


This PDF download includes Cut Diagrams, a List of Supplies, and 3D illustrations with detailed steps to build the project. Measurements are in imperial and not metric. Does NOT include SketchUp/CAD files.

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Floating Shelf for a Plant

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Note: Lumber dimensions are listed as nominal size.  See lumber sizes for actual dimensions vs nominal.

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DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant dimensions

Step 1 – Cut Boards for Frame

The floating shelf is really a box that slides over the frame which is attached to the wall. So first start by building a frame. Take 2×3 board and cut one piece to 18 1/2″ in length. Then cut two boards to 7” in length.

framing for DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant
floating shelf support wood

Step 2 – Drill Pocket Holes

Take both of the 7” long pieces and using a Kreg Jig drill two pocket holes on each board as shown in the picture. Make sure the setting on the Kreg Jig is set for 1 ½” wood thickness. The 18 ½” long piece will not have any pocket holes. 

frame for DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant
drilling pocket holes in wood

Step 3 – Attach Frame Together

Attach both of the short pieces to 18 ½” long piece with wood glue and 2 ½” pocket hole screws.  

floating shelf support framing
frame support for a floating shelf

Step 4 – Cut Plywood for Shelf

Take ½” plywood and cut top and bottom pieces to 19”x8 ½”. Then cut two side pieces to 3 ¾” x8 ½”. And finally cut the front piece to 3 ¾” x 20”.

floating shelf plywood pieces
floating shelf pieces

Step 5 – Attach Bottom, Front, and Sides

Now that all of the pieces are cut, take the bottom piece and the front piece and attach them together using wood glue and 1 ¼” brad nails with a nail gun. Then attach the side pieces in the same way. The total width of the shelf should be 20”

box for floating shelf
floating shelf box

Step 6 – Cut Opening on Top of Shelf

For the top piece, measure 5” from the back and 5” from the side. This will be the center of a 6” hole. Draw a circle using a compass. Then take a ½” drill bit and drill a small hole on the inside of the circle so that you could insert a jig saw blade. Cut the hole out following the line of the circle with a jig saw. If you don’t want the hole for the plant you could just skip this step. 

floating shelf top piece
using compass to draw a circle on plywood
cutting an opening in a floating shelf
top piece of a floating shelf

Step 7 – Assemble the Top Piece

Now attach the top piece to the rest of the shelf the same way as step 5, with wood glue and 1 ¼” brad nails. 

floating shelf box
floating shelf box

Step 8 – Paint and Stain

For this step, you could either paint the shelf or stain it, or use a combination of two like I did. First I applied Espresso stain on the plywood for the first layer, then for the second layer, I used white paint that I brushed over the stain. Dip the brush in white paint and then wipe it over the paper towel so that the brush is almost dry. Then lightly brush over the stain in one direction. Repeat the process until you reach the desired look. 

staining floating shelf
floating shelf with an opening for a plant

Step 9 – Attach Frame to Wall

To attach the frame to the wall, first, you need to find the studs behind the sheetrock. To find the studs using a stud finder and drag through the wall until you find the stud. It’s important that you attach the frame at least to one stud to support the weight that will be placed on this shelf, especially if you have a heavy plant. This is a small shelf so most likely it will not span two studs. But having two screws in one stud should be strong enough to support the shelf. Make sure that the frame is attached leveled and is not sloping. 

stud finder
frame for a floating shelf

Step 10 – Slide Shelf Over the Frame

Before placing the plant on the shelf, insert the round pan inside the shelf. In case you over water the plant, the pan will hold the water and will not damage the shelf. Then slide the shelf over the frame on the wall. Place the plant inside the shelf hole. You’re done with the DIY Floating Shelf with an Opening for the Plant.

DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant
DIY Floating Shelf for a Plant

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