DIY rustic floating kitchen shelves

Kitchen Chronicles: DIY floating rustic shelves

These last few days have flown by! With our housewarming party approaching in May, I’ve been tackling a handful of other projects. The kitchen is still our priority though, and our newest addition is one of my favorites…

Here’s how it all began.

This open wall between the two windows needed something, and I thought would make the perfect space for a couple smaller shelves:

Originally I bought two of these from Ikea because the length could be customized to fit…

But after we decided on a white backsplash, it was just too much white. I needed a more natural element, and wood was the answer.

I spotted a couple tutorials on Pinterest that got my attention, like Ana White’s floating shelves at YHL:

And these from Shanty 2 Chic:

Ultimately, I decided Shanty’s version was simpler (+ required less wood) so I used that as my inspiration. They were a bit too thick for what I wanted, so I substituted the top & side pieces of wood for 1/4″ plywood instead of 1″ boards.

Because I would be staining the wood instead of painting, I splurged on the cabinet grade plywood ($30 for a 4×8′ sheet) rather than the $15 cheap stuff.

I had Lowe’s cut it into three 32″ strips so I could transport it in my car…

via Instagram

I also bought a couple whitewood 1x2x8″pieces for the shelf supports, and a pint of wood stain.

After deciding I wanted my shelves to be 30″ wide and 9″ deep, I cut the 1×2’s to the appropriate size—30″ for the back piece and 8″ strips for the depth. I used four 8″ pieces for extra support since I was placing thin plywood on top instead of a thicker, more solid piece of wood.

Here’s what all of the cuts look like, and how they would fit together on the right.

I spaced them out evenly, made marks then drilled pilot holes into both pieces so the wood wouldn’t split…

Then I dabbed some wood glue onto the ends and secured them with 3″ wood screws. These might have been stronger using pocket screws from my Kreg Jig, but I thought they were strong enough for my purposes (plus they’d be hidden).

Here’s one finished support piece:

Next it was time to cut my plywood pieces. The top and bottoms would be identical, as would the sides, and then there’d be one front piece which would be slightly wider to hide the right and left edges of plywood. Here’s how it went down:

The edges splintered a bit when I ripped them down with the table saw, so I went with it and decided to make these “rustic.”

Time to get these babies up!

We were never going to find the studs, so we needed anchors that were long enough to go through both tile and drywall. I found these at Lowe’s ($3 for 2)…

They were way overkill, but were the only ones I found that were long enough and they didn’t break the bank so I picked up two packages (two for each shelf). I also had to drop $11 on a special 1/2″ carbide bit made for cutting through tile.

It put up real fight. It took Brad several minutes to get through each one. These bits get real hot and smoky so I had to constantly spray water as he was drilling to cool it down.

After going through two batteries for our drill they were finally in. Then we slipped the anchors in and were good to go (actually, two of them broke off inside of the wall so I had to run back to Lowe’s for more)…

Once that was done, we drilled holes into our support shelves and then secured it with the bolts that came with the anchors.

These shelves aren’t coming out of the wall. The wood would split in half before those bolts came out.

Finally, it was time to build our shelves!

I attached the top & bottom pieces with 1″ brad nails…

Now, I’m no Ana White—wood work is not my forte. My measurements did not end up perfectly and I was a little bummed. But then I remembered that in the world of rustic/farmhouse style, imperfections = character. And I remembered why I chose this style (or did it choose me because so many of my creations have been imperfect and I had no choice but to embrace it?) Either way… rustic for life.

Even still, I used wood filler to help conceal the most obvious seams and gaps.

But I also just went for it and banged it up a few times with sharp tools.

I wanted the color to be a neutral mix of gray-brown to tie into our wood floors, so I grabbed all three stains I had—Rustoleum in Driftwood, and Minwax in Dark Walnut and Ebony.

I played around with the mixture until I found a combination I liked…

Staining is always my favorite part. I could do it all day.

Once it was colored to my liking, I sanded down the edges to give it that extra distressed touch.

And finally, I sealed it with a few coats of Polycrylic I had leftover…

And now I have these beauties:

Sometimes I’ll walk in the kitchen and just stare. I heart them.

The second the polycrylic dried, I ran to storage and pulled out some of my favorite things to display. I’ve got to save something for the official “After” photos, but here’s a sneak peak I shared on instagram because I just couldn’t wait…

Tomorrow morning we’re road tripping to Sonoma for a weekend of wine tasting, but there’s some major changes happening in the living room. I’ll be back Monday to share!

32 thoughts on “Kitchen Chronicles: DIY floating rustic shelves

  1. wow I love it! thats what we want in our kitchen! my question is how sturdy are they? would it hold up everyday use of plates and cups? I'm so worried about it falling. thanks!

  2. Thanks! These shelves work best as smaller ledges since there is no support from underneath. 9″ deep is the max I'd go—it's about as sturdy as it could be without being held up with brackets but I'm only using it for lighter dishes/decorations (probably no more than ~10lbs or so) to be safe. Hope this helps!

  3. Okay… so WHEN can you come over for coffee and a week of redecorating MY house?! Because, Girl… I am getting NOTHING done over here, while I ooh and sigh over all your posts! But listen to this: I totally pinned those floating, rustic shelves from Shanty 2 Chic on Pinterest several weeks ago, because SWEET MERCY FROM ABOVE! They are lovely! And then you built the same ones in that kitchen of yours that I'm coveting, and I can barely handle all THE LOVELY that's going on in your new home! I feel like I should get some big pom-poms and come over and do cheerleading routines every time you post pictures… Except I'm probably too old to be at the top of the cheerleader pyramid now, because a fall at my age could result in a costly hip replacement. Your kitchen is fantastic; great job on that tile wall and those shelves!

  4. The shelves turned out great! I especially love the additional distressing you did. Drilling through tile has always freaked me out for some reason, but you guys made it look totally doable – can't wait to see what's next! 🙂

  5. Girl, you are blowing me away with all that you do! Amazing work by you and Brad. It has to be so exciting to see your projects coming to fruition and being able to “style” the spaces. I certainly enjoy following your blog. I am now inspired to do a minor project- comparatively speaking- and paint an end table in our family room indigo. Have a great weekend!

  6. Did you stain the beam on the ceiling or is that the way it was with the house? Only wondering because we have a beam in our house and it is an ugly red wood color and I'd love it to look more like yours but didn't know if you had posted about it?

  7. They are looking great, and well made too! I have floating shelves pretty much everywhere i can put them in my house, invaluable for space creation. My next project is to build stylish floating shelves around my tv on my livingroom wall. Cant wait to get it finished. I got the idea over at

  8. Hi
    Love the finish on the shelves. Could you give me a bit more detail on how you mixed your stain to get that color? I'm doing a table and that color is what I've been looking for!

  9. There was no real method, I just spread on one color, mixed it with another, wiped some off, mixed some together, etc until I had my desired results 🙂

  10. So are the finished shelves 2″ thick or tall? I am trying to decide how thick to make mine. I think the Shanty 2 chic shelves are 4″ but I am not sure. Thanks.!!!

  11. These look great! Curious if the drywall anchors are still holding steady for the kitchen shelves?…


  12. I can’t seem to find floating shelves that I like.. But these are PERFECT.. I was also wondering about the total cost of your project..?

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