DIY Barn Board Shelves

When we found this house I instantly fell in love with all the DIY projects I was going to be able to do! I love getting creative and making my own home decor. It makes the house feel like a home from all the effort you put into it.

My first project was the kitchen bar area! The previous owners had a large china cabinet, leaving the space quite bare when they moved out. I instantly knew I wanted more counter space and a wine fridge. You can never have enough storage in a kitchen.

Thankfully IKEA has a large selection of affordable cabinets and countertops. We were able to easily find a great cabinet match for our kitchen. It’s an antique white colour with a wainscotting pattern. I chose a light countertop compared to our darker cement ones to make the area stand out. I love symmetry in a kitchen. But our home is unique, filled with 150 years of character. Sometimes symmetry can leave a space boring, so I brought in the lighter countertop to mix it up.

On the far side of our kitchen we already have barn board shelves from the previous owners. So I knew right away I wanted more barn board shelves to tie in the new bar area to the rest of the kitchen.

The perks of living in a 150 year old home with the original barn and a Grist Mill, we have an endless supply of old wood. So all I had to do was go exploring and find the perfect pieces of woods for our shelves.

Once I found the pieces I made sure any loose nails where removed or hammered in. Most of the nails actually broke while I tried to take them out so most just ended up being hammered in.

I grabbed my hand held Dewalt Sander and started with a coarse grit. Make sure you wear proper safety equipment because the first layer you sand off is literally fluff! The wood is so dry that it takes no time at all to get the desired result when sanding. After I used the electric sander, I grabbed a finer sanding block to smooth out the shelves.

Now that they were ready for sanding, you always need to make sure the dust is completely wiped off. You can do this by using a damp cloth. You don’t want any dust left when you go to stain because you will have little bumps and they can’t be removed unless you sand again. So take the time to make sure the wood surface is clean and smooth.

When staining barn board, note how old the wood is. I’m guessing the wood I chose is about 100 years old. So it was very dry, and I knew staining would not be an option. Dry wood absorbs stain extremely fast. Making it impossible to get a good colour because it will just look like you painted it. Instead of staining first, I applied a Varathane clear coat. I prefer to use canned Varathane and apply with a brush compared to the spray; you get a smoother finish.

After the first coat of Varathane was dry, I then added a bit of stain. The wood darkened quite a bit with the clear coat but I want to highlight some of the imperfections in the wood. With paper towel, I dabbed it into the stain and then dabbed it onto the wood in the desired areas. I wanted some knots and unique areas to stand out. I let it sit for a minute and then wiped off. After I finished staining it, I applied the second coat of Varathane Clear Coat. And allowed time for the shelves to completely dry.

For the shelving brackets, I purchased similar ones to our original shelves on the other side of the kitchen from Wayfair. We simply screwed everything in and made them as level as we could. Using barn board can be difficult because the wood might not be flat because of years of aging. Wood can change shape and bend a bit. So make sure when you chose your wood you take into account how flat you would like it to be.

I’m so happy with our new bar area! A mix of new, modern and old, rustic. On to the next project!