Our bathroom is a bit small and I want to take advantage of all the space I can for making shelves. I would like to remove the drywall on the bathroom side of an interior wall between 2 studs and use thin pallet wood to frame in a shelf that will protrude out from the wall a bit. Are there any rules or restrictions when doing this? This is on an interior wall. The other side of the wall is a bedroom closet.

Edit to add details

The shelves will start 18" from the edge of the shower, but they will be about 3.5' off the floor and will be replacing drywall (although it may be the green mold resistant stuff). I'm going to trim the back and sides with some thinner gauge pallet wood, and the shelves themselves will be made from thicker pallet slats. Behind the pallet wood, the studs and drywall will be painted dark brown. I'm thinking I will need to fill the cracks/nail holes in the wood to keep water out. White caulk would look interesting in the weathered wood. Will a full moisture barrier be needed behind the trim? Or can I just fill the cracks as suggested?

2 Answers 2


I do not see any specific problems with embedding a shelf as you propose. Particularly due to the fact that the other side of the wall faces into a bedroom closet. Places where this may not be a good idea are:

  1. An exterior wall where the the embedded shelf would interfere with having insulation in the wall.
  2. Locating the embedded shelf in a high moisture area adjacent to a shower.
  3. If installation of the shelf requires removing any moisture resistant wall covering including vapor barrier, cement board or tiles.

In fact many bathroom medicine cabinets are simply a shelving unit that is installed between two studs.

It is possible to build an embedded shelving unit in such way that you trim it out nicely so that the actual studs and back side of the adjacent drywall are all covered. This could include using a piece of appropriate thin sheet material to cover the drywall. Here is a nice example:

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  • The shelves will be near shower. See edits made to question.
    – Ian
    May 27, 2018 at 21:33

There’s no code requirement to have a “wall finish” in a bathroom, but if you do it needs to be impermeable (paint or clear sealer is acceptable).

I think a bigger problem could be lack of acoustic barrier, especially if there’s an outlet in the stud space. (The “ka-plush” syndrome.)

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