When deciding on their shelving, Elizabeth and Mike faced two major issues: first, they weren't allowed to put holes in the wall; and second, a bulky baseboard heater ("hideous but necessary," to use Elizabeth's words) ruled out the possibility of a free-standing unit. They liked the look of the shelves made from piping, so they consulted their friend Roger (in the Mexican wrestling mask, third photo above), who suggested hanging the structure from the ceiling beams. This would allow them to play by the landlord's rules and still have a sturdy, attractive shelf.
In order to keep costs down, Roger designed a unit using standard measurements, so that no pipe or pine boards would need custom cuts. They found everything they needed at Home Depot for $250 (including all basic supplies, like tarps, tools, and brushes). The black matte finish of the pipes wasn't exactly what they had envisioned, but they loved the result.
Elizabeth sanded and stained the boards herself, and washed the grease off the pipes with dish soap. Then Roger assembled the unit over the course of a couple of days. Here's Elizabeth's own wonderful description of how it's put together:
The only holes drilled in the apartment are the three fittings going into the sturdy black ceiling beams. The three "feet" touching the floor are fitted with rubber tips (for walking canes!) and wedged in there with tension. It is so sturdy that I think a grown person could climb it like a ladder. And then when we vacate someday, we can disassemble the whole thing and take it with us, and maybe go over the holes in the beams with a Sharpie. Or not!
Roger adds that if you're going to try this at home, a vise definitely comes in handy; you'll need both hands for leverage when you twist the pipes together.
Such a great solution for a rental with rules! Click here to check out more photos of the project on Elizabeth's Flickr page.
(Images: Elizabeth Proctor)