open shelving

DIY: simple open shelving

If you’re looking for a way to add style to your space, open shelving gives instant character! Today, I want to share this simple, open shelving DIY I have above my buffet area. I’m always looking for ways to make my apartment look special and unique; this is such a simple and inexpensive enhancement!

These shelves are definitely on the more rustic side. If you want something more polished, you can select higher quality wood and put more money into them. This is one of those projects you can spend more or less depending on what you want!

simple DIY open shelving for buffet

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DIY: how to create simple open shelving


  • 2x12x10 board (or whatever your preferred size).
  • Four brackets (two per shelf). Typically, brackets come with screws and wall anchors. If not, you’ll have to buy screws: a larger size to attach the shelves to the wall and a smaller size screw to attach the boards to the brackets.
  • Sandpaper and handheld power sander (optional)
  • Stain/Paint
  • Power drill, hammer, level, stud finder (optional)

Here are the brackets and the dark walnut stain I choose.

I LOVED the walnut stain. I used two coats for a medium color.

I wasn’t a fan of the brackets we chose. The arch is cute, but it’s a huge pain to try and maneuver the drill around the arch. Would not recommend! I found some other bracket options on Amazon that I also loved.

Click below to shop bracket options with my affiliate links:

open shelving - simple cottage open shelving

NOTE: Wherever you purchase, ask the employee to cut the board to your desired shelf length. Typically, stores do it free of charge. I choose a 3-foot length, so they would go with the width of my buffet table. Also, if you choose a thicker board like I did (2 inches thick), just be aware that it’s pretty heavy!


1. Sand pre-cut boards


  • Sanding is one of the most important steps. Make sure you get the raw edges really well and get rid of all the splinters.
  • Sand with the grain of the wood.
  • It goes faster with a power sander, but you can sand by hand too!
  • After sanding, clean away all the dust. I used some old tack cloth that I had, but a damp rag works too!

2. Stain/paint

  • Next, prep your space to stain or paint your boards. Make sure you have a well-ventilated space. I don’t have a bunch of fancy equipment for painting and staining, so I just laid out some newspaper for my workspace.


  • Stir stain/paint before beginning.
  • Just like sanding, stain/paint with the grain of the wood.
  • With stain, make sure you rub it in well and then wipe off the excess so you don’t have drips and streaks.
  • Allow it to completely dry before applying a second coat.

3. Install open shelving

  • While your boards are drying, decide where you want to hang the shelves. It’s always best to attach to studs because it makes the shelves more secure.
  • If you hang the shelves without studs, be sure to use wall anchors. Additionally, you will probably need to be careful about how much weight you place on the shelves.
  • Use screws to secure the board to the brackets.


  • Use a stud finder to locate studs, and mark where they are with a pencil.
  • Next, attach one bracket to the wall, then use the level to gauge where the second bracket needs to be.
  • You may need to pre-drill holes to make installation easier.

NOTE: When we moved and rehung these, we definitely put the brackets on wrong! The longer side of the bracket should go to support the shelf while the shorter end goes to the wall. We were so tired after getting them up that we decided to leave it! 🙂

simple cottage shelving

I hope you enjoyed this DIY! If you have any questions drop a comment below, and if you try this, I would love to hear/see how it turns out! If you want some tips for arranging decor on your shelves, subscribe below and get your free guide for styling shelves!

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