How to Make a DIY Hanging Rope Shelf for under $15

August 1, 2020

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So I have a little bit of a newfound obsession with shelves. 

Before I really got into DIY and design, all I had in my house were random, mismatched canvases with quotes or verses, and a few picture frames.  Flat and boring. But you know what isn’t flat and boring? A SHELF! Especially a DIY hanging rope shelf. It’s like adding instant interest to a wall.

You know what else?! This is probably the most affordable shelf you can create. You could make this happen for a few bucks if you needed to–or you could vary your design a million different ways and make it totally unique. 

Related: Want another way to make your home reflect YOU–for insanely cheap prices? Check out my printable wall art on Etsy in the Black Door Shop. You can even get 20% off your order with the code 20OFF. 🙂

Digital wall prints for decor in Black Door Shop on Etsy
Printable wall art in Black Door Shop

DIY hanging rope shelf for under $15!

Back when I was particularly bad at styling a shelf…

DIY Hanging Rope Shelf Supplies

Here are all the supplies needed:

Wooden board: Whatever your desired length and width (I used this exact one and it’s beautiful and smooth!)
Rope or jute (It just needs to be stronger than twine!)
Screw hooks
A drill
Drill bits: You’ll need a small drill bit, and a big drill bit (I know it’s so specific)
Possibly pliers
A level (You only need a small one for this)

Aaaaaand THAT’S IT.  Are you getting how ridiculously easy it is to DIY your hanging rope shelf?

How to Make Your Rope Shelf For Even Less

Remember that I did this project for under $15, and I’m sure you could easily find wood that’s even cheaper.

Pro tip: Check out Home Depot‘s “cull wood.” In my Home Depot, there’s almost always an abandoned cart with many different types and styles of wood, and they’re frequently totally messed up. They might be noticeably bent or twisted, which is why they’re 70% off!

That wood definitely won’t work for all woodworking projects, but you could definitely find something for this project since you only need a relatively small amount of wood. 

Also, I had originally bought jute at Home Depot as well, but then I found a different kind at a craft store on sale for only $4, and it was thicker and prettier.  This looks exactly like the kind I ended up with.

Finally, the only other thing I needed was screw hooks.  I already had a few on hand, but they are often $1 or less! 

Getting Ready to Hang the Rope Shelf

First, I took a drill bit comparable to the width of my rope and drilled four holes in the corners of my board. (This would be a great spot to show you a picture–but no bueno. My pre-blogging self apologizes.)

(Side note: this post has been up for two years and I JUST realized that “bueno” was spelling wrong. I feel the shame, y/all.)

Just make sure you can put your rope through the holes. That’s it.

How to Hang the Rope Shelf

Honestly, the way you hang this could go a few different ways. Since you could make the rope super long or super short, you could kind of wing this, or you can measure everything out. I’ve hung this shelf three times now, in three different homes, and I’ve done it a little differently each time.

This is not a project that requires you do everything perfectly precisely. It’s extremely quick and easy, and there’s a lot of wiggle room for mistakes here.

In the end, the only thing that will matter the most is that your shelf is level.

First, I looked at where I wanted the shelf to sit on the wall, and I just marked a line in pencil. Then I decided how much rope I wanted, and drilled a pilot hole using a tiny drill bit. 

An easier, yet less precise, way to do it might be to drill holes for the hooks first, THEN determine where you want the board to sit.

Either way, you have to drill pilot holes in your wall for the hooks, and they need to be even with each other AND even (vertically) with the holes in your shelf. Make sense?

To make sure they’re even with each other, I would use a long wooden board–like scrap wood or something–and place your level on top of that.

To make sure the holes are vertically even with the holes in your board, I just simply held the board up the wall and marked the spot.

Next, I just screwed those hooks into the wall with my hands. To make it extra tight, use your pliers

How to build a rope shelf for under $15!

Time for the rope.  I stuck the end through one of the holes and tied two tight knots under the board, so the knot was super tight and thick.

Then I held the board and rope up to the wall to measure where to cut the rope on the other side.

Here’s an important tip: When you cut your rope, leave yourself PLENTY of slack. Each knot eats up more rope than you think! And you may not tie it in exactly the right spot on your first try.

After my knots were even, I trimmed the rope hanging from the knots.

How to build a rope shelf for under $15!

Repeat the same thing on the other side.  So easy!

UPDATE: Since hanging this the first time, I’ve also seen that you can tie a knot at the top of the rope, where it’s hanging from the screw hooks.  I really like that idea and I might try it when I hang it in our new place! 

Decorate Your Shelf

Aaaaaaand that’s it!  Your DIY hanging rope shelf is complete! Time to make it beautiful. 🙂

Want to learn more about how you can love your home even if you’re on a tiny budget? Get the free email course in the blue box below! Or read more details about it here.



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Hi! I’m Kaylee–a mom of 2, business owner, DIY addict, and so much more. You’ll find some fun DIY tutorials, totally honest reviews, and lots of tips for making your home fit YOU. Welcome to Mama and More!


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