{DIY} How to Fudge Reclaimed Floating Shelves

Hello and happy Monday. I hope all of you had a fabulous weekend. Ours was the perfect mix of quiet, active, lazy and productive! You know the kind, where you get a little bit of everything? I’d be bummed it’s Monday if I weren’t so excited to show you our latest project!

You saw the original orange Den, then the updated new wall color and nook last week. And since we accidentally brought home a new TV, we had to find a new (and sturdy) location for all the components. You clever kids guessed right after seeing the inspiration on Friday….we made Distressed Floating Shelves!


We happened to be out-of-town when the contractor was working on enclosing this pass-thru between the Den and Living Room (last Fall during this project). And while we were thrilled with the new look (see Before & Afters here), we knew those flimsy shelves and brackets would have to go.


I love the idea, and look, of recycling and reclaiming old wood, but we live in the suburbs, people. There are no 80-year-old barns around for me to pick over. So I had to take matters in to my own hands, and make some pretend old wood TWSS.

The supplies are simple….the thickest board available at Home Depot (these are almost 2-inches), half-inch square dowels, stain and torture devices tools for distressing. The sweet guys in the lumber department cut the pine and dowels exactly to-size for me.


After sanding the edges so they looked worn down, we went to work abusing the wood. TWSS (Nope, it never gets old.) We made divots with the back of the hammer, clusters of dents with the hammer, and chiseled out ridges.


We draped the chain over the edge and hammered away, too. (Whipping it with the chain, while fun, didn’t really do anything.)


Then we applied a few coats of MinWax in Dark Walnut until it was the shade we wanted (wiping off the excess between coats). The stain really brings out the distressing.


My favorite marks are the ridges we got from hammering a long screw. (Oh geez, not touching that one.)


The wood went from perfect and pristine, to battered and distressed in under an hour. I’ll probably seal them with wax or a poly, too….I’ll let you know if I do.


Next up, hanging the shelves. I wanted clean lines (no brackets), but needed to hold the weight of the shelves and TV components. We used half-inch dowels as the base for the shelves to rest, and 60-pound drywall anchors to hold them in place. I’m sure 60-pound was overkill, but I’m not taking any chances!

After you measure, level, and measure again for your shelf placement, hold the dowel just below where you want the shelf to hang. Using a smaller bit than the screws, drill holes through the dowel and into the wall.


Insert the drywall anchors in the holes.


Then place the dowel back over the holes and screw in place. Make sure the screws are long enough to go through the dowel and to the base of the drywall anchor (the ones that came with the anchors weren’t long enough for our project).


Here we are with the dowels in place and the previous bracket holes puttied.


To get the look of floating shelves, I painted the dowels the same as the wall color to help them disappear.

before and after shelves1

Once everything was dry, we just set the newly distressed and stained shelves on top of the dowels. The camera catches everything, but in real life, you barely notice the dowels. The shelves look like they are anchored directly to the wall.


We keep them pulled forward a bit so the shelf has more depth, and room to accommodate the cords of the TV components


If chin-ups happened around here, I could do them on these shelves. They’re that sturdy. And since the wood is so thick, no middle brace is needed. See all that distressed goodness?!


And while they aren’t technically floating shelves, it’s definitely a lot cleaner than big brackets mucking up the clean lines.

before after shelves2

Now we get to figure out how to get the cords from the components to the TV. But we’re one step closer than we were! We plan to mount the TV on the wall, too, so the rigged-up ladder base isn’t a permanent resident.


So that’s the long-winded tutorial story of how I made my shelves from the reclaimed wood of Christopher Columbus’ 1492 ships, the the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. Pretty cool, right?


I’m currently scouring the countryside for a chunky, distressed desk top. That tutorial story coming up soon. Oh, and since I already had the stain and tools, this project came in under $20 for the wood and anchors! You can’t beat that with a stick! Have you fudged your way through any ‘faux’ projects lately? This isn’t my first….there was Faux Crown Molding, Faux Antlers, Faux Nailhead Art, and a Faux Wall Mirror! Faux shizzle!

Leave a Comment


  1. I love this! I really love the "used" look. I like things that have been lived in. Sadly I live in a country that is modern living overload. Everyone has matchy patchy furniture and color schemes. It's hard to find the unique sometimes. But at the same time we have these amazing antique shows and sales and you can find whatever you're looking for. You just have to be able to afford it! Because it was probably built in the 1500s! AH!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  2. Amanda wrote:

    umm hello?!!! Love it! love the texture and warmth it brings to that little area. Good job girlie!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  3. Greta wrote:

    Can't wait to see how you hide the cords. We have our TV mounted over the fireplace. My husband actually cut out a thin line(had to go vertical because of the studs) in the drywall(from the TV to the built ins) and then patched it up. Always wondered if that was standard or if he made it up. It made me nervous when it was happening, but looks great now.

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  4. Simply LKJ wrote:

    They look amazing!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  5. Hannah wrote:

    Oh wow, what a difference! The new shelves look so much more expensive and the contrast is so eye-catching!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  6. Dharma wrote:

    Uh oh. Now you've gone and given me a great idea. Geez……

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  7. WOW! Those turned out great!!! Totally authentic looking – well done!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  8. You rocked them. I love the distressed look and the staining is perfect.

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  9. They look wonderful Cassie! You are going to love having everything organized and off to the side! Your husband totally cracks me up with the 2 TVs! Sounds like something mine would do!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  10. Mary wrote:

    I love love love that look! Nice work and thanks for sharing the how-to!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  11. They turned out so great! I love the way they look!

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  12. Those look amazing! I'm trying to figure out if I can or need to do something like that in my home! Great job, Cassie.

    Posted 7.23.12 Reply
  13. a' la mode wrote:

    Looks FAB momma!!!! U did good!!!! (that's what we say here in TN 😉 xoxo

    Posted 7.24.12 Reply
  14. Stacy wrote:

    You really pulled off the distressed look in an authentic way, and I love the dark color of the stain. Amazing! My next favorite part is that you were doing all of this with a fabulous manicure- love it!

    Posted 7.24.12 Reply
  15. Your wood looks amazing, hehehe!!! Love it with the dark stain too. I still can't get over how much different that room is with the change in paint.

    Posted 7.24.12 Reply
  16. Wow! Your shelves look AMAZING! I'm going to have to try making some of my own for our powder room 🙂

    I recently finished DIYing a faux campaign style desk for $21!

    Posted 7.26.12 Reply
  17. Deborah wrote:

    They are beautiful Caassie!
    What a great idea instead of the brackets. I'd love to give this a try!
    Thank you for the great tutorial!

    Deborah 🙂

    Posted 7.27.12 Reply
  18. Not only did I read this post, but of course, I just HAD to click on all the links you included to catch up with everything you've been doing. (I'm a first-time reader). I'm totally doing this project! LOVE IT!!! BTW, Did you mean 1492? or did I miss a joke? Hugs,

    Posted 8.4.12 Reply
    • Thanks for thinking of me, bonnie!! You are too sweet!
      xo. C

      Posted 3.30.13 Reply
  19. D.D. wrote:

    question for you?

    Can you give the dimensions of your little nook?

    I have a wet bar that I am converting into a pantry and want nice looking shelves like these (since it'll be open quite often). If yours is relatively the same size as my wet bar… than I wont need to put dowels on the front AND sides…and just do the sides like you did 🙂

    I am also not distressing, but I'm sure it'll still look nice 🙂 I like this a lot…and 60lbs should be able to hold cans and stuff. 😀

    Posted 3.28.13 Reply
    • Hi DD!! Our nook is just shy of 36-inches wide!
      Hope this helps…good luck with your fun project!
      xo. C

      Posted 3.30.13 Reply
  20. LouEffie wrote:

    I love these. Would love to know, how wide did you buy the boards? I know you said they are 2 inches thick, but how wide did you do with them?

    Thanks in advance!

    Posted 4.11.13 Reply
  21. LouEffie wrote:

    I love this! Would love to know, how wide are the boards you bought? I know you said they are 2 inches thick, but how wide did you go?

    Thanks in advance!

    Posted 4.11.13 Reply