DIY Rustic Shelves Using An Old Post

This do-it-yourself rustic shelves project is the most loved and re-published post of my entire blogging career. It has graced numerous blogs featuring “30 Best Rustic Shelves Projects” and earned 399,000 views on Hometalk. Who knew simplicity could be so powerful.

Since my first version of this little grouping in our odd hallway, I learned that the original wood fence post I used needed to be sealed. As a result, the sap in the wood dripped out onto my white Venetian plaster walls, making ugly stains. I was not happy to have to repair the finish damage.

So, I learned my lesson and sealed the blocks with stain-blocking primer, then painted them with white flat paint. Now they blend into the white walls, and showcase the tiny old books nicely. I added colorful local pottery pieces, a handmade Virginia basket, and lots of little baskets from my travels in East Africa and Morocco. I do restyle often because I like to use the pottery and baskets for serving popcorn and small treats.

Here you can see that the rustic shelves blend well with my cherished painted folk art bunny. Years ago I painted the other wall a dark grey and stenciled a huge pattern with gold metallic paint. I added a funky lamp with cracked amber glass and a huge gilded mirror. A mix of bling and rustic that always makes me happy.

Ages ago when I had my large decorative painting studio at Revolution Mill, a 100-year-old flannel mill, I painted this very narrow cabinet for the entry. I think I could have sold it a dozen times. It will never leave this corner spot in our home where two hallways meet, solving a design challenge I think I have finally solved.


SUPPLIES: chunky, dried-out wood post, stain-blocking primer, paint in a color of your choice, keyhole hangers, wall anchors, tools

1. Cut the post into square blocks.

2. Prime the blocks with stain-blocking water-based primer. Let dry.

3. Paint the blocks with your color and sheen of choice. Let dry.

OPTION Seal with a clear sealer like sanding sealer, and stain the blocks. Let dry.

4. Measure exactly where you want to place the keyhole hangers in the back of each block. Use a sharp tool to scoop out a section of wood about 3/8″ deep. Add the keyhole hanger, small notch up, and screw into place. On the wall, measure and mark where each block will hang. Drill a hole slightly smaller than the plastic piece of a wall anchor. Tap the plastic piece into the hole. Use a screwdriver to add the screw. Line the keyhole hanger up with the screw, and slide the block onto the screw.

I ended up with one extra shelf, so I installed it at the other end of our hallway. Since the wall mounts allow plenty of weight, I added this tall raku pottery cat, by a dear potter friend, Steve Cannon. Steve made this piece to honor our tuxedo kitty Oreo years ago.

Feel free to ask me questions about this project, and send me photos of your rustic shelves!

4 thoughts on “DIY Rustic Shelves Using An Old Fence Post

  1. Love this’ what a creative recycling idea and unique display wall. Now I have to find some old fence posts (and a saw !)

    1. Hi there! I love this idea and am in the process of making them. Can you tell me what size you made your blocks? Thank you so much for sharing your creativity!

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