So the other day I saw these cute cloud shelves on Pinterest and told my Daughter I would make her one. She promptly turned around and said, “I want a rainbow shelf Mummy.” Without thinking I replied, “sure thing.” I mean how hard could it be to make a rainbow shelf right?

So this is me taking up the rainbow shelf challenge. And, to be honest, I think it’s turned out pretty awesome!

To start, I found a rainbow colour palette in pastels on Pinterest. I took that down to the Resene ColourShop on my phone. The person there was really great. She pointed me in the direction of just the right colours, which saved me a whole lot of time!

Once I had all my colours selected, I began to realise that painting a rainbow wasn’t going to be as straight forward as a white cloud.

For a cloud I could just slap on some white paint, and done. But a rainbow requires a little bit of measuring and a steady hand. Not to worry though, because I have some awesome tips to make the job a whole lot easier.

DIY rainbow shelf

You will need

12mm plywood sheet (a 1200 x 1200mm half sheet is enough for 2 shelves)

115 x 19mm dressed pine (1.2m length is enough for 2 shelves)

25mm screws

Wood glue




Light sand paper

Tape measure


Drill or screwdriver

White undercoat (I used Resene Quick Dry Waterborne Primer Undercoat)

Acrylic paints (the colours I used were Resene Pink Lace, Caramel, Moonbeam, Riptide, Half sail, Sonique and Black Haze in test pots)


What to do

On your plywood draw a 600mm semicircle. To do this measure from one corner of the plywood 600mm along the bottom edge, make a mark with a pencil at 600mm, then mark the centre point at 300mm.

Once you’ve found the centre point of your semicircle, measure straight up from there 300mm, and place another mark.

Now tie a long piece of string around one end of your pencil.

Hold the end of the string tightly on the bottom centre mark with one hand, and place the pencil nib on the top 300mm mark with your other hand.

Making sure you hold the string very tight, move the pencil one way around the arc, bring it back to the centre, and draw it the other way. Your arcs should end at the corner of the plywood sheet, and the 600mm mark you made earlier.

Now draw your clouds on to the plywood. We made ours about 350mm long and about 300mm at the highest point. Just so it covers around half the rainbow. I drew a cloud shape on paper and transferred this to the plywood, so that we had 2 roughly similar cloud shapes. But you could just as easily free draw it straight on to the plywood.

Using a jigsaw cut out all the shapes. Sand all the edges so they’re smooth and rounded.

Paint all your pieces with the white undercoat with 2 coats.

Then paint your clouds and the base of the shelf with Resene Black Haze. This will also need 2 coats.

When it comes to painting the rainbow, you’ll need to use your string line again. To do this find your centre point again and make a mark up the top. Now, starting from the top, measure a number of 40mm marks back down. You’ll need to make as many marks as colours you have in your palette.

DIY rainbowshelf 1 making-rainbow stringline rainbow-arc

Draw in the rainbow arcs by holding your string tight on the centre bottom point, and the pencil on each 40mm mark. Hold taught and draw a semicircle just like you did earlier. Do this for each mark you made.

When the arcs are drawn, you can paint the rainbow in. See the photo below for a handy tip to keeping a steady hand using a stick, or larger paint brush.

Depending on the colours you’re using, you may need up to 3 coats like I did, as the plywood is very thirsty.

Finally, join the shelf together by using screws and glue. We used 3 screws to join the rainbow to the shelf, and 2 to screw the cloud on the front. We then plastered over the screw holes, sanded and painted the plaster with primer, and then painted the cloud with 1 more coat.

We slightly offset our cloud, but feel free to make it end flush with the shelf. I suppose that’s the magic of DIY, you get to do it your way!

To hang the shelf, you can either screw brackets to the wall, and screw the shelf to the bracket. Or, you can just screw right through the rainbow into the wall. Then plaster over the screws, prime and touch up with the rainbow colour. Just make sure you screw the shelf into a stud, or use wall plugs for strength.

Happy rainbow shelf making! These really aren’t too complicated to create, and it’s so much fun making your own shelving. If you do make one, we’d love to see it.

Either share on Instagram using the #kiwifamilies hashtag to feature, or share it on our Facebook page.


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This information was compiled by the Kiwi Families team.

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