Painted Built-In with Stained Pine Shelves

Hi friends!!  I recently shared on Instagram, how I wanted to update this quirky little built-in shelf in our sunken living room. For the past 9 months it’s been a place to collect all the random things and a ton of dust.  With the living room updates pretty much complete, I decided it was time to pay that shelf some attention. 

The first thing I did was give it a fresh coat of paint to match the rest of the room.  We used Sherwin Williams Basalt Powder in Satin. 

Rather than paint the shelves, I decided to replace them with thicker wood boards.  I went with my go-to 2”x10” common pine boards.   I wanted them to coordinate well with the other wood accents in the room, like the mantle, my sofa table and the exposed beams in the living room.

Lately, I’ve been using a staining technique that is definitely becoming my favorite finishing technique: layering Minwax stains to create a custom color. Minwax® is America’s #1 selling interior wood stain (*Based on Epicor’s Industry Data Analytics and third-party survey results for interior wood stains for the 12-month period ending 3/20,) and it happens to be my absolute fave as well! 

I’ve used this technique quite a few times and actually came across the idea from the blog Designed Simple as she shared how to layer stain to remove the orange out of common pine boards.

If you want to give it a try this is what you’ll need:

What to do:

  • Choose your boards

When choosing pine boards for shelves, ensuring that you pick a board that is straight is super important, but also choosing one that fits your aesthetic is important as well.  When I choose pine boards, I typically go for boards with less knots, or knots that will be hidden (against the wall, not on the board’s edge). 

  •  Cut your Boards

Cut your boards to size using your miter saw, or save time and go to the store prepared with your measurements–the employees will often offer a few cuts for free!  

  • Sand your Shelves

I like to use a palm sander to sand out any rough areas using the palm sander.  

  • Pre-Stain, Pre-Stain, Pre-Stain

Don’t skip this step! Apply Minwax Oil-Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner using a lint free rag or paint brush.  Allow it to penetrate for 5-10 minutes, and wipe off any excess.


  • Get Your Stain On

Stir your first stain.  Because I wanted a darker finish, I decided to go with Minwax Gel Stain in Chestnut. Apply your first coat of stain using a lint free cloth.  I used a Minwax Stain Pad (this particular one was meant for floors, but it worked great!)

Next, apply the Minwax Wood Finish Oil-Based Penetrating Stain in Classic Grey until you achieve the color you are hoping to achieve.  Allow your stain to dry.   

Lastly, to protect your finish you can apply Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish.



I really love how the shelves turned out, and it was such an easy way to get a modern, but rustic look for our home.  For more Minwax inspiration, click here.

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