How to Make DIY Rustic Shelves in a Farmhouse Style

Learn how to make DIY rustic shelves in a distressed farmhouse style even if you don’t have old reclaimed barn wood!

Hello, friends and welcome to this tutorial on DIY rustic shelves!

It feels SO good to be done with our farmhouse girl’s nursery.  I have so many projects from the nursery to share and I promise I’ll get to all of them!

If you want to learn how to make your own DIY rustic shelves this tutorial is great way to get farmhouse style decor for your nursery

Adding a Farmhouse Touch to a Nursery

One of my goals for her room was to make open farmhouse-style shelving that anyone can make.  If you remember, last summer I made some farmhouse shelves for our dining room using reclaimed barn wood.

While I absolutely LOVE these shelves, I realized that not everyone might have access to old wood.  I still believe that using barn wood or some other kind of reclaimed wood makes for the best rustic farmhouse-style shelves.  

(If you do have reclaimed wood, here’s how I cleaned and refinished ours!)

DIY Farmhouse Shelves for the Dining Room. So easy to make your own fixer upper inspired shelves using reclaimed wood

But, if you can’t find any reclaimed wood, I have a solution 🙂  AND you can get all the products you need at your local home improvement store or online!

Now, on to the project!!

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How To Build DIY Rustic Shelves

Step 1: Stain the Shelves to Start the Rustic Process

For our shelves, I used one of these pine boards cut in half making each shelf 4ft long.  I love the look of pine for rustic projects.  

The natural grain in the wood coupled with imperfections (such as knots) really makes the wood the perfect choice.

We applied one coat of Minwax Golden Oak stain to each board.  Remember to do this to all sides and end of the boards since all will be visible.  Also, it doesn’t have to be perfect since you’ll be covering the stain with paint!

Farmhouse shelving using new wood is a great way to make DIY rustic shelves for nursery

Step 2: DIY Dry Brush the Shelves to Make Them Rustic

Once the stain was dry, I used dry brushed two different color paints onto the wood (again on ALL sides).  I love to dry brush.  It’s almost like an art.  It’s messy and there’s no exact “method”, no right or wrong way to dry brush.

In general, I dip my brush into the paint, wipe off the excess against the inside of the can, and ever so gently brush onto the wood.  The brush barely touches the wood.

The first color was … you guessed it!  Rustoleum Chalked Paint in Linen White.  I dare you to find a project I didn’t use this paint on 😉

Using new wood to make a distressed farmhouse look is easy when you stain, paint, and sand for the look

The second color was another favorite: General Finishes Milk Paint in Driftwood.

If you don’t have these exact paints, use the flat white and gray paints you have on hand!

Complete distressed look on new wood for DIY rustic shelves in a farmhouse style

Step 3: Sand Smooth the DIY Rustic Shelves

Even though I carefully dry brushed the paint on, you still end up with some areas that are too concentrated in paint or that just look too “painted”.  If that makes sense.  

You want the paint to look like it has been there for years like it would on old barn wood.

So, I grabbed some fine sandpaper and thoroughly sanded all sides of the wood.  Once sanded, make sure to wipe the wood off with a tack cloth or wet paper towel.

Step 4: Light Stain Coat the Shelves

The final step is to apply a very very thin coat of the same stain you used in step one.  The idea is to again make the dry brushed paint look like it belonged on the wood like it’s been there for years.  

The additional coat of stain is the perfect finishing touch to the wood!

I didn’t end up applying a top coat or sealer of any kind just because these shelves are purely decorative.  It may not be a bad idea to apply a top coat!

Rustic brackets can be a nice way to hang diy rustic shelves giving much needed spaces to put decor

I absolutely LOVEEE how the shelves turned out!  They look so very rustic and farmhouse-y and perfect in her nursery.

Farmhouse shelving create space for decor and baby items while breaking up big wall space

Some areas you can see more of the gray paint and some areas you see more of the white paint.  It’s random and imperfect.

New wood can be used to create a barnwood look and is a great idea to create some shelf space
DIY rustic shelves with decorative brackets hung up on a nursery wall to give a farmhouse barnwood look
Get inspired with these barnwood shelving ideas and DIY rustic shelves that will be a focal point in your home

Rustic shelves decorated

In case you missed the full reveal, here’s what they look like now all styled and pretty!

Baby girl nursery reveal in a farmhouse style with shiplap and decorated DIY rustic shelves
You can decorate using plants, picture frames, pots, and whatever else you want on these DIY rustic shelves
Family photos and decor displayed in a baby girl nursery on rustic farmhouse shelves making faux barnwood

Didn’t these DIY rustic shelves just turn out so incredibly well? I absolutely love the farmhouse look and decorating them to tie into the rest of the nursery was a joy.

I have all the items listed in the reveal post that I used to style the farmhouse shelves.  These are the brackets we used to hang them!

Check out these other farmhouse nursery reveals:

Wishing you a joyful day!

Yield: 2 shelves

How To Make DIY Rustic Shelves

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Make these DIY Rustic shelves that are stained, painted, and sanded to a farmhouse-style look.

Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours
Difficulty Easy
Estimated Cost $50


  1. Stain wood
  2. Dry brush wood with two layered colors of paint (white then gray)
  3. Lightly sand wood
  4. Apply light coat of stain over wood
  5. Hang on shelves on metal brackets on wall

Did you make this project?

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  1. Great tutorial, the only thing I would add is to take a small round craft brush and dab some chalk paint on the screw heads. You will still be able to remove them when needed but they will not show so much.