A Stylish Storage Solution--Randa and Jim's DIY Primitive Shelf Makeover

By Carla Jordan
Randa Davis, srptimitives.com


I never met an accessory I didn't like, whether it's old salt & pepper shakers or turn-of-the-century pottery.  Can't help it--it's in my DNA.  Dad collects vintage chalkware.  Mom is into antique tins and my sister loves old piano sheet music.  Our eclectic mix of fabulous finds personalizes our homes and imparts a sense of history so how we display them is important.  No new shelving from IKEA for us.  Not when it's so easy (and fun!) to give an old shelf like this new life as DIY'ers Randa and Jim Davis (also owners of Sangamon River Primitives in Mahomet, IL, and Olde Century Color dealers) have done.

When Randa and Jim spotted this little shelf in an antique store, it was a bit worse for the wear.  But they could see its potential, especially if Olde Century Colors paint was used in the transformation.  "One of the nicest things about Olde Century Colors paint is that you don't have to be real precise when you do your primitive projects," says Randa.  "You can get different looks according to how heavy you apply the paint.  On this shelf, we applied the paint thinly in some areas -you can actually see some of the original finish peeking through. Yet, it still covers and adheres well."

Here's how Randa and Jim transformed their shelf into a handsome primitive display piece that anyone (me, included) would love to have in their home.


Materials List

 •Old wooden shelf

 •Orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper (or a hand sander with any rough grit sandpaper)

 •Paint brush

 •0000 steel wool

 •Olde Century Colors Cobblestone paint #2032

 •Briwax® (Dark Brown color) #BRICL

 •Rag or tack cloth

•Cotton swabs


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


 Sand shelf, removing as much of the stain/finish as you want.  


Credit:  Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Sand shelf edges down in some areas to create more of a primitive or worn look.  Wipe the shelf down with a rag or tack cloth to remove dust particles.


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Paint shelf with Olde Century Colors Cobblestone paint.

Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Don't worry about holes or blemishes. They add to the primitive feel so no need to cover them unless you want to. Let paint dry thoroughly.


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Sand some of the edges and flat areas of the shelf.  Remove as much or little paint as you would like.


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Wipe shelf down with rag or tack cloth to remove dust particles.

Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Apply Briwax® with steel wool. 


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


Remember, the amount of stain that you apply to the piece will determine its end appearance. 


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


In pieces like a shelf, there are always corners that are hard to get into with the steel wool.  Use a cotton swab dipped in Briwax® to reach these areas.  Dry thoroughly.


Randa Davis, srprimitives.com


The result?  A refined rustic shelf on which your favorite things will sit pretty each and every day.




About the Author

Carla Jordan is a nationally published design, cooking/entertaining and lifestyle writer.  Her work can be found in well-regarded magazines and newspapers; as well as online.  She resides in a Dallas-area home of many colors because she can't resist painting this, that and everything.