Craft Projects · How To

DIY Wood Peg Wall Shelf Makeover


When we first moved to our apartment the complete lack of storage left our home painfully cluttered. The most obvious issue was that our family of five was cohabitating in an 800 square foot living space without a coat closet… so basically we had a pile of jackets instead of a couch. Our non-existent budget made it difficult to remedy the situation until I came across an ugly $2 pegged wall shelf at a rummage sale and gave it a cheap makeover. Not only is it now my favorite item in our living room, but it provides priceless functionality. I figured I could share the process that I used in case anyone needs inspiration of their own (or a really cool gift idea).



○ Wood wall shelf with pegs
○ Wood filler and hooks (if replacing the pegs)
○ Sand paper
○ Primer
○ Acrylic Paint for accent color (I used yellow)
○ Acrylic paint for top coat (I used turquoise)
○ Polyurethane sealer
○ Wood stain
○ Paint brushes


STEP 1: Remove pegs and sand the shelf.
If your shelf was already painted (like mine), you’ll need to remove the paint. Unlike mine, hopefully you won’t be sanding by hand and discover four layers of paint before you reach the wood! I made the executive decision to leave a thin layer of the old paint (seen in the picture) to give my shelf an aged look, but I was using a water-based gel stain that sits on the surface of the wood instead of being absorbed by it, otherwise this technique wouldn’t have been effective. The white stippling you see in the picture was a result of a bottom layer of the old paint bubbling. Obviously it wasn’t applied correctly (make sure your paint dries completely between layers).


STEP 2: Wood Filler, sand and primer.
If replacing the existing pegs with hooks (like I did), you’ll want to fill the old holes with wood filler. Follow the directions on the wood filler container to assure a smooth finished surface and allow adequate drying time before sanding and covering with primer. Be sure to primer any areas that you plan to paint.


STEP 3: Paint edges with accent color.
Complete coverage is not necessary but be careful not to paint the areas that will be stained. Also, pay close attention to feathering the edges of your paint strokes so they don’t leave a hard line or uneven surface.

STEP 4: Wax the edges.
I actually keep a cheap old votive candle around just for this purpose. Any candle will work but I recommend against colored wax because it can sometimes cause discoloration of the paint. Just rub the side of the candle against any edges where you want the accent color to peak through the top coat. Be sure to brush away any crumbs or chunks of wax.


STEP 5: Apply the top coat of paint.
Because I could only find the right color in a cheap acrylic craft paint, it took three layers before I was satisfied with the coverage. When applying multiple layers of paint, make sure to check the suggested drying time on the bottle label to assure it has proper time to dry between layers. If you rush this step, the paint can bubble and peel.

STEP 6: Gently sand the edges.
Use a very fine grit sand paper and be gentle. The goal is to carefully remove the top coat of paint to allow hints of the accent color to show. It’s very easy to get overly enthusiastic and scrape off the accent color too.

STEP 7: Wood stain, sealant and hardware.
This is the home stretch! I used a wood stain that doubled as a sealant (since that was the only kind that was offered in $2 sample sized cans… which was all I needed for the entire project) so I didn’t need to seal the stained area. Because of this, I applied two coats of polyurethane to the painted portion of the shelf (with proper drying time and light sanding between coats) before allowing it to dry and set for a couple days. Then I taped off the painted area and followed the directions on the wood stain to apply multiple coats of stain to the top portion of the shelf. I found the set of six hooks for $2 in the hardware section at Walmart. I measured and marked where I wanted the hooks then used a power screwdriver to attach them. After that, I sat back and appreciated my handiwork.

I think this is called “organized chaos”… plus, bonus cat butt!


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