Today I’m sharing an easy and inexpensive shelf solution. I bought these metal brackets from Ikea (they were only $10/pair!) but I didn’t want the EKBY shelf that is made for it. It was $35 and it was a sleek white finish. Nice, but not the look I was going for. So I decided to distress some wood boards and make my own shelf to go with these cool brackets. What I like about making my own shelf is that I can make it any length I want and any color or finish. I only needed one shelf but I think these would also look great as a series of 3 or 4.
To make your own distressed wood shelf, you’ll need a piece of wood to fit your brackets. The EKBY Ikea brackets hold a shelf that’s 11″ wide. Wood boards are sold at certain widths – usually 6″, 8″, 10″ and 12″ and so on. BUT they are actually a little more than 1/2″ smaller than these sizes. So a 12″ board is about 11.375″ wide. Crazy, huh? Here’s the reason: wood shrinks when it’s dried, so lumber mills adjust their tools accordingly. Because wood shrinks laterally (across the grain of the wood rather than with the grain), the length of a piece of wood is only minimally affected by this shrinking, so when a 6′ 1×12″ board is milled at the sawmill, it is usually very close or even slightly longer than 36 inches when it is available for purchase at your local home center or lumberyard. However, it is a lot narrower than 12″ because it goes across the grain – the part that shrinks more. Make sense?
So the standard board widths wouldn’t fit inside my 11″ brackets – 10″ was too narrow and 12″ was too wide. I decided to use 2 pieces of 6″ board (which is really about 5.5″ wide) and place them next to each other – now I have a shelf that’s 11″ wide. Perfect! I could have bought a much larger piece of wood and just cut it down to the correct width and length but this was an easier solution – and I think the 2 boards will look pretty cool for my distressed look.
I can make my shelf as long as I want since the brackets are two separate pieces. I cut a 6′ long board in half so my shelf will be 36″ x 11″. And then I started painting and distressing. Note: If you want your shelf to be really long, I suggest using this connecting bracket in the center for better support.
There’s no exact rules to follow when trying to get wood to look old and distressed. Here are my tips and technique: First I painted the front and back of each board with my base or main color – I used Benjamin Moore bright white interior paint.
I let it dry and then added some additional paint colors with random brush strokes. I used a dark gray and also a teal paint that I had left over from previous projects. The teal paint was used on my shutter hat rack – click here to see that DIY post. This shelf will be hanging near this hat rack so using the same paint will be a good way to link the two pieces.
After all the paint was on and dry, I took a hammer and banged up the wood to add some notches and scratches to get that worn, distressed look.
After I was done taking out all my aggression on the wood pieces, I sanded each piece down so it looked like the paint had worn off over time. I also sanded the edges so they were more rounded, with a worn look too.
I love my *new* wood pieces!
Next I hung the brackets and inserted the wood. I used wall anchors and screws to secure the metal frames. Then I placed the wood in and installed the other bracket.
It looks great in my bedroom that is (slowly) getting a makeover.
Stay tuned for more on that room – it’s looking great. These little DIY projects are a nice way to add some personal style to any room. And I love it when they’re inexpensive too. Enjoy!