After spilling coffee onto my couch, I craved an expedient solution to the bane of small-space dwellers: Where to place a cup of coffee when scanning the morning news?
I loathed the idea of a side table with gangly legs. I covet every inch in my 550-square-foot, one-bedroom Los Feliz flat. Solution: Convert a leaded glass window into a shelf/table using wall brackets as support.
I wanted the support brackets to be as unobtrusive as possible so the shelf would appear to float. I found simple, white 6.5-by-5 inch brackets at a local hardware store for $3.99 each.
The manufacturer's specifications promised that the brackets would hold up to 100 pounds when mounted into wall studs. (That was for shelves up to 8 inches deep, and though my window shelf was nearly twice as deep -- about 15 inches, with a length of 25.5 inches -- the combined weight of some books, a plant, the glass top, and that cup of coffee totaled less than 20 pounds.)
I bought the vintage window at Melrose Trading Post, the Sunday flea market held in the parking lot of Fairfax High School in Los Angeles. The piece was $25, negotiated down from $35.
I sanded and stained the window frame, then applied two coats of satin polyurethane finish. I secured the brackets to the window with 0.75-inch screws, and attached them to the wall with 1.5-inch screws, using wall anchors when studs were out of reach.
For the glass top, I chose a shop south of downtown Los Angeles. I was advised to give measurements down to the sixteenth of an inch, and to choose a quarter-inch protector top. The cost was $30.
I chose a flat edge polish with a 45-degree camfer, top and bottom. A pencil polish gives a more rounded edge. Other polishes (bevel, seamed, triple pencil, ogee, wave and chipped) are more expensive.
The shelf is quite sturdy despite the smaller brackets. The glass mutes the beauty of the leaded glass window. But in the end I was concerned with one thing: a flat, solid surface for that morning cup of coffee.