How To Whitewash Natural Wood Farmhouse Shelves

June 3, 2019

DIY dining room farmhouse shelves white wash

Are you familiar with the term "whitewash" as it pertains to wooden furniture? The act of whitewashing furniture, while having been around for many years, is majorly trending right now; especially among those who love living with a modern farmhouse aesthetic. According to WikiHow:

Whitewashing is a type of surface covering that is used as a sealant typically on farms for the inside of barns and chicken coops ... [M]any people like the look of whitewash because it’s a thinner paint that allows the natural wood grain to show. It has become a trend to create a whitewash look for household furniture.

whitewashed farmhouse shelves dining room

Today I'm going to show you how I whitewashed our DIY modern farmhouse reclaimed wood floating shelves so stick around. 

The traditional stain and whitewash stain used was provided by Rust-oleum but all opinions are my own. Also, this post contains affiliate links. A purchase of any one of these items helps to support this blog and its creative efforts at no cost to you. To read more, please see my disclosure page.

farmhouse shelves fall decor tobacco basket pumpkins boxwood wreaths buffet vintage scale corbels

I could not have been prouder than I was after my husband and I DIY'd our own floating farmhouse shelves with recycled wood. I designed them based on other DIY floating shelves I'd seen in blogland and chose to keep the wood in its natural state at that time, knowing I could always either paint or stain the wood at a later date. That later date is now. 

weathered gray shelf natural wood plank

Here is one of the untreated shelves, next to a prefabricated shelf I picked up at Menard's for a future shelving project. Since both shelves are going to be in the same room I wanted them to at least look a little more alike in wood tone/color if at all possible.  So how did I do it?

Supplies To Stain And Whitewash Natural Wood Shelves

1. Rust-oleum Varathane Classic Wood Stain in White Wash
2. Rust-oleum Varathane Premium Wood Stain in Briarsmoke
10. Natural wood for your project
11. Paint stir sticks
12. Painter's tape (optional)

How To Stain and Whitewash Natural Wood Shelves


1. Sand your natural wood piece first with 120, then 150 then 180 grit sandpaper (going in the direction of the grain) as per the can instructions, making sure to wipe away all the dust with a lint free cloth or rag before proceeding with the staining.

2. Open your Briarsmoke stain and stir. Using a paint brush, brush the stain onto your natural wood piece.

Rust-oleum Varathane briarsmoke stained natural wood panel

3. Let dry for around 2-3 minutes. The longer you wait the darker the stain will be.

briarsmoke stain after wiping with rag

4. Using a rag, go back and wipe away any remaining stain. This will allow some of the natural wood to show.

5. Let dry at least one hour, making sure to securely close the can lid and clean the brush with mineral spirits according to the manufacturer's instructions.

one coat Rust-oleum whitewash stain over briarsmoke stain

6. Once sufficiently dry, it's time to apply the White Wash stain. Using the same technique as before, coat the piece with White Wash stain using a paint brush. (The yellow tape is covering the joint hardware on the underside of the shelf. Be sure to use painter's tape to protect any hardware involved before staining.)

7. Let dry around 2-3 minutes. The longer you wait, the whiter your wood will be.

8. Using a clean rag, go back and wipe away any remaining white wash stain.

9. Repeat step 5.

Now your piece is ready for use, unless it's going to be used heavily like a table or dresser, etc. Those pieces should probably be treated with some type of Rust-oleum  polyurethane for protection. Knowing that my shelves would not be undergoing any heavy duty traffic I opted not to apply polyurethane.   

    Just a refresher: here are the shelves "before."

natural wood shelf white corbel

natural wood shelf white corbel

And after: 

I was thrilled that my natural wood farmhouse shelves were looking even more farmhouse-y.

farmhouse shelves fall decor tobacco basket pumpkins boxwood wreaths buffet vintage scale corbels

Here are the unfinished shelves made from recycled wood last fall.

whitewashed farmhouse shelves dining room

And here are the newly whitewashed modern farmhouse shelves today.

I think they go even better with my farmhouse dining room than the natural shelves did.

farmhouse dining room decor olive bucket lantern cutting boards

I feel like they work well with the gray walls and crisp, white trim.

oversized cutting board Gather wall art sign wicker lidded ottoman

I've had the Gather sign for some time now, a clearance sale purchase from Kirkland's. And you know I love hanging my boxwood wreaths whenever and wherever I can. This one looks lovely hanging from my oversized cutting board from World Market that I first shared with you in my farmhouse dining room reveal. The wicker lidded ottoman was a Goodwill find.    

whitewashed farmhouse shelves dining room

I styled the shelves totally differently this time, since the new whitewashed look warranted a decor update. 

white distressed wooden tabletop lantern LED candle

farmhouse ceramic house votive candle holder

Eggs Milk Bacon sign white hobnail milk glass creamer

While I already had some of the items, a few are new. They were all a bargain, of course. I'll be sharing them soon in a special farmhouse bargain decorating post.

whitewashed farmhouse shelves dining room

I'd have to say that this turned out to be one of my favorite DIY home decor projects of all time. Yup. I'm that happy. What do you think?

Well, that's it until next time, friends! 
I hope you enjoyed reading about 
How To Stain and Whitewash 
Natural Wood Farmhouse Shelves
and that I've inspired you in some way.

Don't forget to Pin it!

DIY dining room farmhouse shelves white wash
Be sure to stay in touch:

Click HERE to subscribe.

Don’t miss another thrifty,
 DIY home d├ęcor post!   

Leave a Comment!

cloches and lavender said...

Great job. I enjoy working with paint especially chalk paint in different ways I repurpose items and gives them new life.

These shelves look great and you styled them nicely for the farmhouse feel.

Enjoy your day


Kathy said...

I like your shelves better with the whitewash although I am almost always a "real wood" fan. Painting both shelves will also really help tie the shelving together. A plus at my house would be that dust wouldn't show as much!!! Love the restyling. Those shelves really are versatile.

hannah said...

They look great with the whitewash finish. I'd love it if you would share your projects at our weekly blogger link party. I hope you stop by :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails