Midcentury Modern Shelving

3 Materials
4 Hours

I updated the living room of our 1964 ranch by removing wallpaper and putting up modern shelving. Here’s the before and after!

I had put absolutely no effort into decorating this room up until this point and just threw in our living room furniture where it would fit when we moved in.

But then when the opportunity presented itself to participate in a living room refresh, I couldn’t say no. I figure this winter will be much more bearable in a room we love, so I’m thankful for the push to make some changes in here.

To my surprise, the wallpaper came down really easily in this room. It was a sign. I did have to sand it all down after with a pole sander and then use a drywall sealer, but after that I just painted as usual.

I am soooo happy to be looking at white walls every day instead of the faded gold wallpaper that was here before.

To fill some of the blank space, I added two 7' shelves. I wanted them to be mid century-ish to match the era of the house, so I went with 2x6 birch. I had considered doing something thicker, but decided that felt more farmhouse than midcentury.

The board on the right above is a shelf from some original built ins, so I was trying to match the stain as closely as possible. I decided to go with Minwax Golden oak.

Before staining, I thoroughly sanded down my shelves, and then applied a thin coat. Once the stain was dry, I sanded again with a fine grit sandpaper to keep everything super smooth, then applied a top coat. I sanded one more time before applying a second top coat and I'm so happy I took the extra time to sand between layers! The shelves are buttery smooth and will be super easy to dust and keep clean.

The next step was to drill pilot holes for the brackets on both the boards and the walls.

I spaced them out evenly on the shelves and traced the holes with a pencil, then drilled my pilot holes, then screwed them in.

For the walls, I did the same thing after measuring to make sure the placement was accurate and level. I placed wall anchors in all the spots that didn't have studs to drill into so the shelves were sturdy enough to support the weight of decorating them.

After all the pilot holes were drilled, getting the shelves up was super easy, because everything fit together perfectly!

I mostly used what I had on hand to style the shelves, and added a few little things from Birch Lane. I LOVE this bird planter (not available at Birch Lane anymore but you can grab it from wayfair). It’s my favorite. And we were desperate for a place to set drinks, so this cute little side table works perfectly beside what I call my "queen's chair." I also ordered a statue planter but it hasn’t arrived yet. I’m super excited to find a place for it too!

All in all, I’m so glad I was able to do this living room refresh, and I’m exciting to keep working at it over the next few weeks to make it even better!

Suggested materials:

  • Birch 2x4s   (hardware store)
  • Minwax stain   (lowes)
  • Brackets   (amazon)

Kala Wiederholt
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  1 question
  • Lynette Lynette on Nov 08, 2021

    Are the plants real? I am short it would be hard to water them.


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4 of 6 comments
  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Nov 08, 2021

    Well done!

  • Car54171722 Car54171722 on Nov 08, 2021

    Wow so glad I found you guys. Nearly 10 years in our dear old home and we are just starting to make a few small changes. The old adage you have to live somewhere first is so true. Thank goodness I didn’t rush with my original ideas as they have all gone out the window 😊

    • Kala Wiederholt Kala Wiederholt on Nov 09, 2021

      Slow and steady is definitely better too! Sometimes I wish I had the $$ to do everything at once, but then I realize I'd regret having to make so many rushed decisions!