Headliner Shelf

A headliner shelf is a great way to make use of the giant cabin in the van. It isn't a huge project, but it is certainly nice to have the extra storage!

Total Cost: $


Total Time (hrs):


Upholstered headliner shelf shown before install

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Resources Used



  • Jigsaw
  • Circular Saw
  • Track Saw - I HIGHLY recommend this purchase. I've been using it for all straight cuts in wood for the van, and there's LOTS of those. It's easy and intuitive to use, works with the Ryobi circular saw I have, and also doubles as a long ruler :o) If you have a table saw, you probably don't need this.

important note

I found this already built vancillary shelf retailing for $200 on Amazon. These were much more expensive (~$350 if I'm remembering correctly) when I was just starting my conversation, but since the cost savings are non-existent here, I would probably choose this route now!


I LOVE having this shelf. It's been so useful for storing extra things in space that would otherwise go wasted. Having a curtain rod attached to it has also made ALL the difference. I love the privacy this affords me in public places without needing to put my window covers up, and is also providing some additional insulation value.

I chose ½” birch and taped the Vacillary template to it. Since it was just me trying to cut a 4'x8' piece of plywood, I cut on the ground with a bunch of pink foam underneath supporting it.

I then cut out the lip, following the same template.

I set up the brackets in the van, aligned the headliner, and noted down where I'd need to drill the holes.

Attached the shelf to the van's lip with wood glue. Used clamps to hold it in place and left it to set overnight.

Aesthetics came next. I picked out a material from Joanne’s. Without a specific guide, I traced the shelf onto the material and used 3M spray adhesive to attach it.

I traced out two outlines -- one that was slightly larger so I could fold the edges in, and once that was exact to size.

I burned the edges to try and prevent the material from fraying.

Here's what it looks like finished!

The last task was fitting the shelf into the van. Since I hadn’t marked the holes on the material, it took a bit of figuring out. But after some adjustments, the shelf found its spot.

Brackets were really easy to install in the van.

Here's what it looks like with the curtain rod and curtains.

Would I do anything differently?

While I'm content with the outcome, I recognize areas for improvement. The material's edges could be neater, and there might be better wrapping techniques out there. Every project is a learning curve.

Notion Board

Click on the image above to go to the full data base.

The Notion Board is my brain-dump database. I've been keeping meticulous track of every purchase, complete with receipts.

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