pipe shelving

apartment kitchenThe kitchen: the heart, the soul, the black hole.  It’s where life happens. Every kitchen has an awkward corner that’s jammed with extra stuff. That’s often the case in 100+ year old kitchens that weren’t laid out with efficiency in mind. They also weren’t necessarily laid out with a hoarder collector in mind. Our corner has the faux-wood microwave, speaker, cookbooks and bowls. What to do?  Gas pipe shelving of course! sketchup shelvesFirst I used my awesome Sketchup skills and drew it out.  Not knowing the standard pipe lengths before we shopped, we made assumptions of what would be nice. This corner has a window sill and other wood trim pieces to work around (trim around a dry-storage pantry that’s been sealed off since we moved in….dead body). drawingThen we made a shopping list of the various pieces we’d need. There are 100s of examples online, and in real life around San Francisco to draw inspiration from. gaspipeHere are the gas pipe pieces laid out and starting to be assembled.  These are 1/2″ (but measure 3/4″ diameter) pipes and fittings; 12″ lengths. Once at the stores we found nothing between 12″ and 18″…..18″ would be too tall.  They come slathered in grease so be warned.  We left the raw iron; I’ve seen some painted. We love old wood that I’ve grabbed from my remodels, but our corner dimension required 17″ deep and old lumber would only be 12″ max.  So we used 1″ thick ACX plywood, pretty neat with its striped layers. We plan to apply a satin poly to the plywood to protect it from the kitchen mess. handymangas pipe shelvingWe decided to drill and run the pipe through the fronts of the shelves. Other versions simply lay the wood across two ‘ladders’ but we figured this was more sturdy and looked good.  And, why not run wiring through for a light? This had to be pulled through as it was built. Factor in a sloping floor and we had our work cut out for us! pipe fittingsThe round flanges act as feet, as well as attachments to the wall. At the back, the shelves merely rest on the fittings – not drilled through here.  black pipe shelvingSome other details, seen above – such as the cap on the top. black pipe shelvesedison bulbThere’s the light bulb – because that window doesn’t provide enough light (at night).  Yes, we’re ‘green’ and have a small carbon footprint, but the Edison bulb is hard to resist! All in all this took much more time to prep for (planning, sourcing the materials etc) than building it, which was less than two hours (not counting downtime waiting on the ancient drill battery to recharge…). So there we have it – a place for the multiple sets of pyrex bowls, heath ceramics, books and other kitchen stuff to spread out and breath. Within easy reach, and too pretty to not be out on display at all times!  The microwave?  Found a home in the laundry room.pipe shelving


Filed under Other Design Projects

5 responses to “pipe shelving

  1. Ted

    Wow, nice job! The light bulb and the cake plate are nice touches. Inspiring.

  2. Nicolas Ansel

    Hi Tom,
    Nice work. I am very interested about your sketchup work. I’m a pipe furniture maker and I tried for week to find fitting and pipes to be able to create on sketchup. I work mostly with 3/4″ pipes. Where did you find yours? Did you make them?

  3. Wow! You’ve done amazing things! Quick question for you (I hope 😉). I love rethinking spaces and using unconventional materials, as well as repurposing. We moved into a 10 year old home last year that had not been maintained AT ALL! In addition to lots of not so fun maintenance type jobs, I’ve been attempting to reconfigure countless spaces that just don’t work well as is. I started by gutting my kids’ too small closets and reconfigured them with iron pipe and shelving. I’m kind of addicted to the pipe now and have used it in a lot of places (shower curtain rods, bathroom fixtures, laundry room . . . ). I’m currently trying to figure out how to build loft beds for all 3 of my kids with built in furniture and secret rooms. This prompted me to learn Sketchup, and now I keno the basics. Here’s my question (finally 😉) – how do you draw the pipe and fittings? Do you use the shapes they have, and push/pull? Or is there another plug in I should use to make it easier? If you have time, any advice would be greatly appreciated!

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