"Reclaimed Wood" From a Box Store

Earlier this week I shared the basement bathroom reveal and showed are new bathroom shelves.  Now I'm back to share how we made them.

I had put together a couple inspirational pictures of shelving that I liked awhile back and while they we're all on the industrial/rustic side, they all had one major thing in common, all had distressed wood shelves.

Clockwise: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

I looked around for different brackets, but kept coming back to the inexpensive Ekby Bjarnum brackets from Ikea.

I had grabbed a couple sets a while back in case my search for other brackets came up short, and while I thought about painting them black for a minute, (to match my inspiration photos above), I thought they looked fine the way they were.

The problem was I wanted reclaimed wood shelves.  Not just any wood either, I now was committed to finding wood that was exactly 1" because that's the thickness of the brackets.  No pressure.

I spent a couple months researching some local reclaimed wood sites, and was all ready to hit up some backwood barns, when Mike shared a tip that blew my mind.  Seriously though, it was probably most shocking because I spent months thinking about this project before he told me.  So, here it is, how to get the reclaimed-wood-look from a box store.

Everyone can go get a piece of lumber, distress it, stain it, and call it rustic, but the problem is the thickness.  A typical 1" x board is actually only 0.75" thick.  Our secret: stair treads!

Stair treads are 1" thick, not nominal, actual.

Once Mike told me this, I had new stair tread in the garage within 2 days.  The only prep needed is one edge comes with a bull nose edge, so we used our table saw to rip it down to size.  Since the brackets are 7 1/2" and the treads were 11", this was necessary anyways.

Once we had it cut to size we went to town distressing the heck out of them.  Mike and I had way too much fun with various items from the garage.  Our arsenal included a giant chain, mallet, hammer, and wire.  We whipped, dropped, pounded the wood until we got the level of distress we were happy with.  I lightly sanded all the edges and sides and stained 2 coats, (using Minwax Special Walnut), and finished with a coat of poly.  Mike helped install the brackets and we were good to go.

I love how beat up the edges look.

I used some items we had around the house, and bought a few more to load up the shelves with accessories.

The plants, baskets, and towels are from Ikea.  The basket was an etsy find, and the soaps are all homemade.  The green bottle is an old Chianti bottle without the basket that our neighbor gave us.  We never knew how to display this since it rolls around, so the antlers were a happy accident since I just grabbed something to keep it stable for a second.

We both love the new shelves and for the cost ($10 for the stair tread (edited: they are actually $20, but we were able to cut in half to get both shelves from one sheet) and $10 for the 2 sets of brackets), we really couldn't be happier!


  1. Great job on the shelves. I am inspired...I think some of those shelves would look great in my office. They wouldn't be decorated as nice.

  2. Your shelves are fabulous! I could not find 10$ stair treads at Home Depot. I went with the sold wood ones there for 25.28 each. They seem a little heavy for the wall at 12.5 lbs each. Did I order the wrong stair treads?
    Thanks for any help!
    Meg from Chicago

    1. Sorry, that was just my bad memory! The stair tread was $18.23/piece for solid red oak, and 36" long, so we only needed the one tread cut in half for both shelves, which is probably where I got the $10 in my head. They don't seem that heavy, maybe only a couple pounds each, but I checked the Ikea Ekby Bjarnum brackets and they are rated for 44 pounds, so if you plan to use those, you'll be fine. Most importantly, make sure the screws and drywall anchors you use to attach to the wall are rated for the weight you plan to use. Good luck!

  3. That's a beautiful creativity by use. I loved it. I have some Reclaimed Wooden Floorboards with me and am going to purchase a little more. I will try to make shelves and some creative things at my home. Thanks for sharing. Keep exploring.