DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves: part one

I live in a track home in the suburbs and have a lot of big walls and not a lot of definition when it comes to dividing one room from another.  And although I love the open concept, it is a challenge to add character and interest into a space.  But I think I nailed this one and I am super excited to show you these rustic modern floating shelves that the hubs and I built!  I have to admit, I was a little hesitant at the beginning of this project, but absolutely love how they turned out.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

 These Vintage Revivals inspired Modern Rustic Floating Shelves solved 2 main problems for me.

One, they provided definition for my living room (which is actually just part of a giant room right when you walk into my home that includes the entry, dining room, and living room.)  You can see in the photo that this was a large space to fill and putting large art there was not going to add to the collected feel I’m going for, not to mention it is way to predictable…snore.

And two, they provided a place for me to display some pretty things.  I don’t have a lot of opportunities to do this in my house and think it adds so much personality and warmth.

This post turned out to be really long so I broke it up into 2 parts.  Today I’ll show you how we built the shelves, and tomorrow I’ll show you how we installed them.

Ok. Onward!

This post contains affiliate links.  You can read the full disclosure here.

Supplies:(Each of my shelves  is 43 inches long, 10 inches deep, and 2 inches tall.)

Just a little FYI… You can order all of your supplies on and they will gather it all up for you and all you do is pick it up!  No more wandering around the store lost! Yipeeee!

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Step 1: Cut your wood. (Again, I made five 43 x 10 inch shelves.  Your cuts will change if you change the size of shelf.)

  • Cut ten, 43 inch long pieces of 1 x 3 wood.
  • Cut ten, 8 inch long pieces of 1 x 3 wood.
  • Cut fifteen, 8 inch long pieces of 1 x 2 wood.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Before drilling I made a template so that I made sure I was drilling into the center of my boards.  They are quite thin, and you don’t want them to split.  To do this I took an outline of how wide my boards were and marked 2 holes in the center.


I poked holes in the paper where these marks were and used it at the end of my 43 inch boards to mark where I would drill.

predrill backs

Step 2: Pre drill holes for the backs and start a wood screw in each hole.

Be sure that the screws you use have a flat head on them because they will be up against the wall and you don’t want them to interfere with the board being flat against the wall when you install the shelves.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Step 3: Attach side pieces (your eight inch 1 x 3s)

Lay your 43 inch board (the one you just started the screws in) and an eight inch 1 x3 on their sides at  90° and check to make sure they are square.  Attach the two pieces by screwing in the screw you just started so that it goes into the end of the 8 inch piece.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Step 4:  Attach your front boards.

Lay your front board (43 inch board) in place and pre drill a hole through both your front board and the side piece.  The size of your pre drilled hole will depend on the size of the hex bolt you are using.

Then, insert the hex bolt with a washer to hold the two pieces together.

Now you have the frames of your shelves!

Step 5: (Optional) Stain your shelves.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Step 6: Cut the tops for the shelves.

Take a measurement of the inside rectangle  of your shelf frames and cut a pieces of underlayment just a hair smaller so that the underlayment fits just inside of the frame.

This wood is super thin and will splinter.  See this quick tip to make sure the wood doesn’t splinter.

Note**If your tops are slightly too tight, use a sander to shave them down a little bit.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

Step 7:  Put the tops on.

Take your shelf top (underlayment) and lay it on a flat surface and put your frame over it, making sure that the underlayment fits just inside the shelf frame on all sides.

Lay 3 pieces of your 1 x 2’s on top of the underlayment and from the outside of the frame nail in place with a finishing nail on both sides.

Flip the shelf over (holding the top in place) and you are done!

*Note: I did not stain the tops of my shelves because I really liked the two-tone look.

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

So now the hard part is over.  So go kick your feet up and I’ll be back on tomorrow to show you how to install them!

If you completed these shelves show them to me!  Shoot me an email or share them with me on social media.  Use #inspiredbytinysidekick

DIY Rustic Modern Floating Shelves

{click here to see how these shelves were installed}

You may also be wondering about the hexagons on the wall…

DIY Hexagon Sharpie Wallpaper

DIY Sharpie Hexagon “Wallpaper”


signature-2014Linking up at THESE GREAT PARTIES and Remodelahoic and Home Stories A to Z
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  1. says

    Hey there:

    I just wanted to let you know that one of our co-hosts at The PINcentive Blog Hop chose this post as a winner, so CONGRATULATIONS! We absolutely loved these floating shelves :o) As a winner, I’d love to feature this post at our next hop and it will be pinned a minimum of 31 times by my team of pinners! Additionally, we’d love to have you co-host our next hop and choose our winner. It’s a great opportunity to make new friends and increase your following. You are also entitle to priority seating at our next hop which means I will add the URL of the post you’d like to link up manually :o)

    I hope you are as excited as we are! Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience. Since I’m working under a rather tight deadline, your timely response would be greatly appreciated! If you decide to co-host, I’d need your 3 preferred methods you’d like blog hop participants to follow you and the URL of the post you’d like to link up this week.

    Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you! Happy Friday!


  2. says

    Great idea! are those hex bolts or lag screws that you used in the front? Hex bolts are not sharp so I’m wondering, if you used them, how you secured them. Lag screws are sharp, like giant screws with a hex head. I’ll check back to see which they are before going shopping. :)

    • says

      Hi Gale! I used hex bolts. They were not sharp at the end which is why I pre drilled holes. I just image searched both though and you could use either one I guess. I was mostly going for the finished detail that they gave and they both would look the same on the finished project. I’m excited to hear that you are going to give this a try! Let me know how it goes. And I’d love to see pictures of the outcome!

    • gale says

      awesome-thanks! I think I’d have to drill for either one so I’ll just see what we have on hand first. I do love how the bolt heads look on this.

  3. says

    Love these. Way to go on building them, I would have been lazy and grabbed some from Target. I’m sure yours will last much longer, too! (I’m totally waiting for the tutorial on your hex walls… sharpie wall paper from Vintage Revivals? I’m DYING to try it out but our walls are mega textured.)
    Amy W recently posted…Valentine’s Day WreathMy Profile


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