Making the old look new again
Shutter shelf

Repurposing items is a great way to turn old junk into glorious new decor. Etsy shop owner and maker of many beautiful repurposed shelves, Kim Bembenek lets us in on the secrets to making the old look new again.

A shelf for every need

When Kim Bembenek's third child went off to school, the stay-at-home mom set her sights on a part-time job. This crafty mother decided to open up her very own Etsy shop that would feature repurposed and upcycled products. And given the stunning pieces she offers, we're certainly glad she did! When she isn't putting together beautiful home decor pieces or chasing after her little ones, she's teaching us her secrets to putting together our very own rustic shelves. Don't miss the opportunity to find out how you can turn old wood into stunning shelves!

Get the base

Barn board shelf

Bembenek says she's a fan of using old barnboards because you can get your hands on them free of charge and the detail in the wood is lovely. Old, wooden, lead windows are items she turns to frequently, particularly those with six panels, as she screws a barnboard into the middle, which creates a sizable shelf and wall decoration. Or try working with old, wooden shutters cut in half or the panels from wooden doors. An especially easy item to work with is an old cranberry crate or other wooden fruit bin, as all you have to do is dress it up and attach it to the wall for a rustic flair. Having trouble getting your hands on these options? Grocery stores and markets everywhere rely on wooden pallets of all sizes to move products. Try stopping by a local store to ask if they have any old ones they no longer need.

Where to find them

An easy place to start looking is at yard sales or even by paying close attention to what people have left on their curbs for garbage collection. Someone's trash can be your beautifully upcycled shelf! Bembenek frequently visits flea markets and antique stores for more rustic "raw" items.

Don't forget the tools

In addition to the nails and screws you will obviously require to put boards together or to secure them to the wall, there are some other tools you will want to add to your collection. Bembenek is a lover of the scrub brush. As she says: "You will be amazed at what colour they actually are!" She also recommends investing in a power hand sander to get your wood looking its best. And don't forget to think about how you'll want to secure it to the wall. You can cut an extra piece of barnboard and use it to secure the shelf in place, or opt for a traditional set of brackets that you can find at your local hardware store.

Putting them together

Worried you're in for an long process? Not at all! Bembenek happily reports it only takes a few hours to put a stunning shelf together. Begin by washing the item down, then let it dry in the sun. Sand it by hand or with your power hand sander. When it comes to the final decorative touches, she recommends watering down your paint to give the piece a stunning old, rustic look. Once it has dried, attach the brackets, then use a level to make sure it is hung in a straight line. Most important, though, have fun and get creative!

To get more ideas or to buy a unique piece of home decor, check out Kim's shop, ThreeTwigsDesigns, on Etsy.com.

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