DIY Rustic Hanging Rope Shelf

Add something extra to an empty corner or wall with this super easy hanging rope shelf. Avoid multiple holes in the wall by hanging this from the ceiling from 1 simple hook against the wall to display your favorite items. Perfect for renters or those that like to change up their decor often and get tired of putting holes in the wall!

Rope Shelf

How Do You Make A Rope Shelf?

Making a DIY shelf with rope is a reasonably straightforward project. 

First, decide what type of wood you want for your shelf. You can use different types of natural wood depending on your budget and home decor, including:

  • Plywood – This is a budget-friendly option and popular choice.
  • Pine – Another lightweight wood choice with a rustic look.
  • Walnut – A lovely natural wood perfect for shelves.
  • Cherry – An aesthetic hardwood choice that’s easy to shape and polish.
  • Cedar – The best weather-resistant choice with a deep and vibrant color.

There are various woods to choose from that will make for excellent shelves. 

Then, you’ll want to pick out the type of rope you want to use. You can use whatever rope you have on hand, or if you’re going for a particular look, there are different ropes to choose from, including:

  • Cotton
  • Jute 
  • Manilla
  • Hemp
  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Sisal
  • Synthetic fibers

Depending on the style of the room and shelf, you’ll want the right type of rope to match. 

Once you decide on the wood and rope, it’s time to gather your supplies on the list below. As soon as you’ve got the supplies, you’re ready to start building.

How Do You Hang A Rope Shelf?

You can hang your shelf from the roof with a few different options.

Floating shelf brackets – You’ll need to find a stud in the wall, measure, and drill holes for this option.

Cleats – You’ll also need to find studs and drill into the wall to secure the cleats. Then, you’ll slide your shelf onto the cleats.

Hook or eyelet screw – This is the best option for shelves hanging from rope. You can secure the hook or screw into the ceiling or the wall.

rope shelf supplies

Supplies You Need For Hanging Rope Shelf:

  • drill or drill press
  • 5/8 inch drill bit
  • thick rope
  • heavy duty scissors
  • clamps
  • paint
  • paintbrush
  • 2 rectangular pieces of plywood cut to desired measurements
how to make a hanging rope shelf

Instructions to Build the Rustic Hanging Rope Shelf:

Step 1: Preparing the shelf

Start by prepping your wood. The 2 pieces of plywood that you use should be equal in size. You can cut them down yourself with a table saw or have them cut down for you at the hardware store. Sand down the sides if needed.

Step 2: Attach wood

Stack the two pieces of wood on top of each other and use your clamps to clamp them together.

hanging rope shelf tutorial

Step 3: Make holes

Once you have clamped your wood into place, use your drill with a drill bit large enough to accommodate the width of the rope that you are using to make a hole in each corner. Here we used rope that was approximately 3/8 inch thick so we used a 5/8 inch drill bit to make the holes.

If you find it too difficult to drill through both pieces at one time, carefully measure and mark all the holes in each corner for each board and drill them one at a time. You want to make sure that your holes line up closely one on top of the other so that your shelf is straight.

Step 4: Painting process

Once your holes are finished, paint the edges of the wood a bright and fun color. This part is totally optional and you can get creative here. You could paint the entire piece of wood, just the edges, or leave them plain. Totally up to you and what will look good with your decor!

Step 5: Cutting the rope

Next cut 4 pieces of rope equal size. You will likely want to cut them on the longer side, approximately 4-5 ft each to give enough slack for the knots and hanging down from the ceiling. This measurement will depend on your ceiling height and how far apart you want the shelves so determine this first before cutting.

how to make a rope shelf

Remember you can always cut the rope down if needed but you can’t add on any extra slack, so better to make it too long than too short!

Step 6: Assemble the pieces

To assemble the shelf, tie a knot at the end of each piece of rope and thread through the bottom shelf. Tie a second knot at the location where you would like your top shelf to lie. Measure this distance and repeat for the other 3 pieces of rope. Try to keep the knots spaced as evenly as possible to keep your shelf straight.

Step 7: Tie a know

Lastly take all the excess rope at the top and tie a knot. If long enough, you can hang this directly from the ceiling for your shelf. If not, you may want to add extra rope or twine to hang.

hanging rope shelf DIY

Hang your shelf close to the wall so that it does not spin around. Likely you will hang it from a hook in the ceiling. If you have a very long hook you can also try hanging it off the wall as well. Stage with the items you would like to store and your project is complete!

hanging rope shelf how to
rope shelf DIY
DIY hanging rope shelf

Other Rope Shelf Designs You Should Give A Try:

Farmhouse-style rope shelf

Farmhouse-style rope shelf

If you want something that’s a bit more boho or farmhouse-inspired as opposed to just rustic, check out the rope shelf tutorial from apieceofrainbow. You can use either jute or sisal rope for a more rugged texture or cotton rope if you prefer a particular color. Also, acrylic paint can be used to color both the shelves and the rope.

Simple double shelf

Hanging shelves using thin rope

A small and simple hanging rope shelf like the one featured on listinprogress can fit in all sorts of spaces like that empty wall section above the toilet in the bathroom. It’s a perfect spot for something like this and this a lovely way to make an area like the bathroom feel more welcoming while also keeping it functional.

A multi-tier hanging rope shelf

A multi-tier hanging rope shelf

Because of how this and other rope shelves are designed in general, you can create them with as many tiers as you want. This allows you to customize a project like this based on your storage needs or the space available. Looking at the design featured on mrkate it could even be easy enough to leave room for future additions of more shelves at the bottom.

Natural wood and rope as shelves

Natural wood and rope as shelves

Hanging rope shelves are really easy to make and it doesn’t really matter how many shelves you want to include. Once the first one is level and secured in place, adding the other ones is simple. To make it easy to align your shelves, make sure you drill the holes in the same spots. You can just stack the boards and get it done in one motion. Check out hearthandvine for more tips.

Minimalist and modern rope shelves

Minimalist and modern rope shelves

When it comes to hanging rope shelves you have a choice between all sorts of different types of rope and various types of wood with different finishes. This allows you to design these shelves in a way that suits a particular style. For a minimalist and modern look for example check out the design featured on whydontyoumakeme.

A rope swing shelf

A rope swing shelf

It’s entirely possible to only hang a single shelf instead of two, three or several as we’ve seen thus far. A single board will give you the look of a retro rope swing in the form of a shelf. It can be a cute and also useful accessory that you can add to spaces like the bathroom, kitchen, office or entryway. Check out the tutorial on deeplysouthernhome for more details.

Rope shelves made from an old tabletop

Hanging shelves using thin rope

When crafting a hanging rope shelf you can either go buy some wood from your local hardware store or you can use salvaged and reclaimed wood pieces, like a tabletop from an old piece of furniture for example. You can clean it and cut it into pieces or if the size and shape are just right you can just drill some holes in the corners and call it a shelf. The idea comes from salvagedinspirations.

Tiered rope shelf using cable locks

Use cable locks

A little detail that you can focus on when making a hanging rope shelf is how you want the shelves to be held in place by the rope. As we’ve seen earlier this is easy enough to do by just tying a knot in each corner. Another solution is to use cable locks instead. Check out the process on collectivegen for more details.

Height-adjustable hanging rope shelf

Hanging shelves using thin rope

What’s nice about hanging rope shelves and this one in particular is that you can usually pretty easily adjust their height and configuration just by playing with the rope and the knots. In the tutorial shared on burkatron you can see how easy this is to change the height or level of the shelf by adjusting the two top knots.

Hanging shelves using thin rope

Hanging shelves using thin rope

If you like the texture and rustic vibe of jute or sisal rope you should definitely use one of these types when making your hanging shelves. On the other hand, if you want the rope to hold the shelves without standing out too much, use thin cord or cotton rope instead. It will still be very sturdy but it will give the shelf a more modern and simple look. Check out this look on lizmorrowstudios.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ

Are rope shelves sturdy?

If your measurements are correct and the shelf is level, it will be sturdy. You can secure them to the wall with brackets or anchors if this is a concern for you.

How do you attach a rope to a wall?

You can secure the rope to the wall with hooks, cleats, or glue. Your choice will depend on how much weight the shelf will hold.

How much can a hanging shelf hold?

If you’ve secured your hook into a stud, the shelf can hold up to 50 pounds. However, if you didn’t screw the hook into a stud, it probably won’t hold more than 20 pounds without tearing out of the wall or ceiling. 

Where to buy a rope shelf?

You can purchase unique hanging shelves made from rope on Etsy. You can also get them from most hardware and home improvement stores.

Rope Shelf: Conclusion

As you can see, there are many different rope shelves to choose from. Use this DIY rope shelf to spruce up an empty corner or wall in your home. It’s super easy and can add a lot of style to any space.