Monday, April 28, 2014

Rustic Wood Shelf DIY

Our dining room has new shelves!!  They are a little rustic... a little glam... and totally perfect!  I'm SO THRILLED with how they came out!

Just look at them!!  So pretty right??

I spent the better part of Saturday afternoon, with my drill, level, and measuring tape, hanging these bad boys up.

These shelves are a DIY I'd started a few months back, and then they got totally neglected out of sheer laziness.  They'd been sitting in our garage for about a month after I stained the wood, and then sitting against the wall in our dining room for another few weeks before I finally decided to do something about them.

I don't know what came over me this weekend, but I was on a mission to finish unpacking, and with several boxes of books staring me in the face, I knew it was time to get these shelves installed.

Originally, I'd been envisioning a lovely rustic bookcase like this or this, but in the end I didn't feel like I could commit spending that much on a bookshelf I wasn't 100% sure I wanted, so shelves were the best option for me.  One thing I knew I wanted was for them to be made of wood - we have too much painted furniture in the house right now, and bringing in an organic material like wood or natural fibers (our Jute Rugs... the linen curtains... etc) makes such a difference!

Do you want to know how much I ended up spending on these shelves??

Next to nothing!!

Each bracket was $2 and each shelf was $15.  I bought eight white brackets, and four untreated raw pine shelves from Ikea, for a whopping $76.  Pretty sweet, right??

In all honesty, I can't take credit for coming up with this Ikea hack on my own - I totally copied the shelves that Sarah over at Smitten Studio had DIY'd and installed.  I found her blog through an image of these shelves on Pinterest, and I was smitten.  Pun intended.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... right??

While I loved the reddish color of the wood she used, I wanted something a little more weathered in our dining room - a little "Restoration Hardware" inspired since greyed out weathered wood is their thang, and I think it pairs really well with the grey linen curtains in there.  A little beachy... a little less formal.  It's a match made in heaven.

Anyway, the DIY was super SUPER simple...

Materials you'll need before starting:
  - Unstained wood shelves (mine were pine - same ones listed here)
  - Wood Conditioner (I used Minwax, pre-stain wood conditioner)
  - Stain (I used Minwax Classic Grey)
  - Foam Brush
  - Rag
  - Brackets (I used these)
  - Rusoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint - it's my favorite gold
  - Brass Screws

I had never stained wood before but it could not be simpler - when you've got all your supplies gathered, coat each board with the pre-stain wood conditioner.  I'd read about using wood conditioner on One House Love, and was sold.  More even application, and more uniform color?  For $7?  What do I have to lose?

I can't speak to how much better it was than untreated wood, but it worked great for me, so I think it's worth the extra 5 minutes it takes.

Anyway, just apply the conditioner with your foam brush, and wait for it to soak in for a minute.  By the time you finish the last board, the first is ready for stain, so there isn't any down time.

On to the stain - feel free to use the same brush that you used to apply the wood conditioner to apply the stain, and brush it on in long, even strokes in the same direction as the wood grain.  Do NOT brush against the grain.  As long as you go with the wood grain, this process is foolproof.

Once you get one coat of stain on the wood, immediately wipe it down.  You can re-stain as many times as you like to build up color over time, but this way you'll have more control over how much of the stain takes to the wood, so each board is uniform.

I found that even with the conditioner, the wood soaked up a lot of the stain quickly, so be ready with the rag to wipe it down.  Fearing that I'd stain them too dark, I did one coat and waited to see if it would need another the next day... thankfully they didn't, so I stopped after one coat.

As I got started applying the stain, I was a little nervous about whether or not it would turn out - when I was first applying it, it was looking awfully purple.  The raw untreated pine has a bit of a "pink" quality to it, and the stain initially looks very purple - parts were blue, and the undertone of the wood was showing through, but fear not - as it dries, the colors meld together, and it will turn out nice and greyed out like below.

You'd never know this wasn't an old reclaimed piece of wood now that's dry and cured.

My father will kill me if I don't add this bit in - once you're finished staining the wood, DO NOT throw your rags and brushes in the trash.  The chemicals generate heat which could catch fire if not allowed to dry out - lay them flat in open air to dry completely before throwing everything away.  No one wants to start an unintentional fire.

Anyway, as the stained wood was dying, I laid out all the brackets and sprayed them gold.


Once everything is fully dry (I'd give it a full 24 hours for the spray paint to cure) everything should be ready to be hung.

Since the wall brackets screw into the wall, I wanted the screws to be as incognito as possible.  You could spray regular screws gold, but I went the easy route and bought brass screws from the hardware store.  They are more expensive than normal screws (about $0.55 per screw) but worth the time I saved and the finished look.

The DIY was the easy part, getting them hung was the most time consuming!

When hanging shelves (or art, or anything really) measure very carefully, and mark out your holes before drilling or hammering anything.  That way you'll end up with fewer holes in the wall.  Also, a straight edge and a level are your best friends.  There is nothing worse than crooked shelving.

Anyway, I'm thrilled with how this all came together.  Even though this project cost me next to nothing, they look really expensive, and even though all the pieces came from Ikea, they feel really unique because I was able to put my own spin on them.

I have another post coming your way later this week with these gorgeous shelves all styled up, but that's a whole separate post.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be!  It was also a little painful to cover up my beautiful shelves with books and pictures, because I was loving the simplicity of how they looked on their own. After a few failed attempts to style the shelves, I did a little researching around "how to properly style shelves" and while they aren't perfect, I have a few pointers I picked up that really helped me out in the "styling" department.

Happy Monday!


  1. I love these! I was inspired by the same photo and installed similar ones in my bathroom! I love the texture of the gold and raw wood! Great job!

    1. Yes, and I LOVE how the shelves in your bathroom turned out :-)

  2. Several comments: 1. They look lovely, love the driftwood color! 2. Daddy approves of the fire warning. 3. Matthew would say you have inherited the Christensen measuring genes! Well done!

  3. I found your blog when looking for tutorials on rustic wood shelves. These are wonderful, thank you for the thorough tutorial and sources.


  4. Did you screw the bracket to the wood (on the bottom)? I just bought these shelves/bracket combo from IKEA and want to make sure the screws go into the wall and the wood.... Of course IKEA doesn't give directions for anything... Thanks!

  5. Did the spray paint chip off the brackets?

    1. no. I was actually REALLY pleased with how well the spraypaint adhered to the bracket. just be careful not to go too heavy. Do many light coats and get INSIDE too! I actually made a jig - a board with nails that I sort of HUNG the brackets off of. That say I didn't have to hold them. It worked really well!

  6. If you are looking for a reputable contextual advertising network, I suggest that you check out Clicksor.

  7. i just stained mine today. I did the conditioner too, but i'm not sure it made a difference on raw pine.... maybe for a nicer wood, but for pine, i wonder... anyway, i was worried too as mine looked REALLY blue. I was sure to stir the stain a lot, but as it's drying, it is looking more and more grey. I also will probably only do 1 coat. So far, so good! I'll jump back in when I'm done!!

  8. You are obviously a genius. Peace and joy!

  9. Where did you get the brackets? I've been looking for something like thes everywhere!!

  10. TVs look boring sitting on a table of any kind. TV stands and tables are bulky and for all the “aesthetic appeal” they supposedly bring, they are champions of cluttering up your living room. Let’s be real, there is no functional reason for you to add another bulky piece of furniture to your living room- if you can avoid it.