DIY Glass Window Shelves

I love african violets! They can be fickle, but once they have the right amount of light, and slightly damp soil, they will happily put on a show for you. My violets used to perch on the kitchen window sill, but occasionally they would take a suicidal nose dive into the sink. To save them from inevitable death one day, I installed two glass shelves over the sink.

Would you like to install your own glass shelves between two kitchen cabinets? It is a relatively easy project, but does require two sets of hands for one step. The directions below will take you through the step-by-step process for installing 2 glass shelves.


3/16 inch tempered glass
quarter round moulding
paint (to match your kitchen cabinets)
medium size paint brush
painters tape
drill w/ bits
finish nails 1.25″ long
nail set
wood putty or caulk
flat toothpick or wood shim


1. First measure your window width and subtracted 0.25″ from the measurement.) Then measure the depth of your kitchen cabinets to the window frame (or tile, whatever sticks out the furthest).

Take those measurements to a glass manufacturer and have them cut two pieces of 3/16″ tempered glass. Make sure that the edges will be smooth. And, definitely ask for the tempered glass. (My shelves never broke, but I banged them occasionally while being overzealous about washing dishes.)

2. Using the measurement you took for the depth of your cabinets, cut 8 lengths of quarter round (four for each glass shelf you are hanging.)

3. Prime and then paint the quarter round to match your cabinets.

4. Determine the height where you want your glass shelves to be. (I put each shelf at the same height as my window grill pieces.) Use a level and draw lines on your cabinet on one side of the window.

5. Pre-drill three holes (the size of your finish nails) into your quarter round.

6. Using a piece of painters tape, attach once piece of the quarter round to your cabinet. This is your shelf support piece, so make sure that the flat edge is facing up. Gently nail the finish nails through the predrilled holes and into the cabinet. Repeat this step for your other shelf support (on the same side.)

7. Rest one glass shelf on one piece of the installed quarter round. You will need an assistant to help hold the glass shelf up as you level it.

8. Make a mark on the under side of your glass.

9. Double check that the mark is level (from front to back), and line your next piece of quarter round below the line. Repeat steps 5 & 6 above until you have the four shelf supports installed.

10. Gently rest your glass shelves on the supports.

11. Pre-drill holes in your four remaining quarter round strips.

12. Set wood shims (or toothpicks) on top of the glass shelves and up against the cabinets on both ends. Rest your quarter round strips on top of the shims. This should give you a slight space between the glass and the quarter round. Now, tape the quarter round pieces in place and REMOVE BOTH glass shelves and the shims.

13. Nail your quarter round pieces in place. Use a nail set to countersink (set the nail below the wood surface) all your nails. Fill the nail holes with wood putty or caulk and touch it up with your paint.

14. When the paint has dried, slide in your shelves. The shelves should slide in easily and should not be tight.

15. Put some plants or other accessories on your new shelves! And enjoy.

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How do you make all those great diagrams? They really help make your tutorials easy to understand. I appreciate that. Great shelf!

What an absolutely fantastic idea! I love that it lets so much light in AND you have a great place to put stuff above the sink. Ingenious, Brittany! :)

Okay, Brittany — these are too awesome NOT to share! I linked this up on my FB page — just loving them!!

I am sure your African Violets appreciate their new home on that fantastic shelving you made just for them….and others. This is an ingenious idea for wasted spaces.

Your diagrams are awesome! What a great idea…something I could totally do! Of course, my kitchen sink area is the hottest part of the house and they would probably die, but I could do something like that! Super!!

I so want these too. . these and the pear. . .so I think you may have me attempt to make these myself instead of waiting for hubby to have some time to do it for me. . . you almost got me there. . .

Congratulations Brittney! You did it again! You made this week's Top 5 Hits. Thanks for all of your terrific ideas…I try not to feature you every week…love your new pix!

Nice project. Love the shelves above the windows. :) Please add my party button or a link back to me so that I can keep your link up on my list. Thanks.

This is such a fun project. It adds so much to the room! Great tutorial. Stopping by from Amanda's link up (:


You ARE a pretty handy girl! Found you on One Pretty Thing. I happen to have some old glass slats from a door and I've been dying to find a way to use them. Thanks for the inspriation and clear directions!

I saw your post for these glass shelves featured on One Pretty Thing and came straight over. This is something I've always loved, and being a clever (ok, lazy) girl, I'm always happy to use someone else's directions. Thanks so much for posting exactly what you did and with such great diagrams!

Fantastic idea! I rent, so I was looking for a way that would not disturb the woodwork too much and this is it. Thank you, Cleverly.

This is a GREAT idea. And it will work in my large center bay window, as I can nail the quarter-round to the insides of the window molding itself, and then lay the glass shelves on them. Thank you, simple is always best!!

Inspired in New York City

If you occasionally bump the shelf, I’d like to know the distance between your counter top and the underside of the bottom shelf, so I don’t set my own any lower then that.

what a fabulous idea. I used to have plastic tray shelves hung by 2 hooks and heavy white braided string. The shelves would shift a lot over time because of the design, so I just got rid of them but missed the space for plants.

We have a double window over our sink, so approximately 46″ between the wall cabinets.
I think I can make this work by just putting a shelf bracket on the wood center piece between the 2 windows.
I think I would also use screws counter sunk into the wood rather than finishing nails. A lot sturdier and you can unscrew the shelf anytime without using a hammer to pry off the wood pieces that could damage your cabinets in the process.