How to create wood from MDF

I was set a challenge by The Son.  He needed kitchen shelves as he and his partner were rapidly running out of space.  Secretly he just missed being at home with us and our kitchen shelves but just didn’t want to say 😘. Anyway being my son he was quite exacting in his requirements, they needed to be dark wood, match the colour of his kitchen units, have black brackets, increase in size as they went up the wall and they needed to be cheap.

Now dark wood is not cheap so I dragged back my knowledge from the 1990’s, acquired from watching room makeover programmes of the time – do you remember Changing Rooms?  Well MDF was used in abundance and I remember, because I’d tried it, you could use stain to give MDF a fairly respectable wood finished.  And MDF definitely ticked the cheap box.

I had to convince The Son so I first took a scrap of MDF and stained it ……… with gravy browning (I didn’t have any wood stain to hand).  It served the purpose to show how you could get a grain effect, and he approved.  Of course, at the time I didn’t tell him it was gravy browning. Next, I just had to match the colour of the units with a real stain, although gravy browning finished with wax would have done the job a lighter colour was required as you can see below.

DIY MDF wood stain shelves

I used Sadolin Extra Durable Woodstain, Rosewood. it gave stain with a semi-gloss finish. One coat worked really well but the colour was just a bit too red.  So, I took some matt black paint and just gave the MDF a light covering.  I rubbed the black paint with a rag to give a streaky grain appearance and again when I added the stain I made sure there were brush marks, as this added to the illusion of wood grain.  And of course we purchased the MDF from the local  Buxton Building Supplies, who also cut the MDF to size. Here’s the pictures



I hadn’t realised getting plain black bracket was such an issue, the DIY stores only seem to stock either white or grey and if you remember The Son’s exacting requirements only black would do.  We eventually found them online from IronmongeryDirect, and they arrived the next day, spent more on the P&P than the brackets, but if we had spent more the postage would have been free. Don’t worry I’ll be adding up all the cost of this at the end. Oh and a message from Mr Husband who says if you try this make sure the brackets and fixings are suitable for the wall on which you are fixing the shelves and the expected load  – thank you 😍😍😍.  This is how the work progressed.

And this is the finished look.  The Son was right the insist on the black brackets I think.

DIY MDF wood stained shelves

We only fitted them last night but before we had driven home he had filled them!

DIY MDF shelves wood stained shelves

And finally the cost


Let me know if you’ve tried giving a wood finish to MDF and how it went. 😍😍😍




How to DIY build kitchen shelves on a budget

The favourite room in my house is my kitchen, mainly because I love to cook as a way of relaxing.  It was one of the first rooms to be decorated when we moved in about 3 years ago.  I really need to get around to showing you some before and after pictures. However, moving on a few years and accumulating more kitchen bits and pieces I need more storage – isn’t that always the case? So out with the tools again for a quick solution that wasn’t going to cost too much money, just a bit of time.

You can see in the picture below there was a spare piece of kitchen wall just crying out for a few shelves.  My plan was to try and house all the things I needed to hand so I could try and keep the work surface clear.  Getting into the realms of 5S here, a throw back to my corporate days, but lets leave that for another time.

Mr Husband wasn’t doing much so he was set to work with the sheet of MDF and a saw, and I did my bit too with a paint brush.  I don’t just sit on a stool and give instructions you know 😉

DIY guide to making new kitchen shelvesHere’s my picture diary

What an empty space!  My thoughts were to only shelve as far as the plug socket leaving space to expand in the future if needed.

I’ve no pictures of the wood sawing but you can see the bits of wood as they are being painted. Once again my work surface doubles up as a workbench. You may notice the shelves have been painted in Dulux Pixie Green, which was also used for my table makeover.

As you can see the shelves were put together as one unit so will be self supporting, no brackets required. However, the unit will be attached to the wall with a couple of screws to stop them falling forward. The shelves themselves are held in place with long screws counter-sunk, if that’s the expression, by Mr Husband and then filled once the screws were in so the screw heads would be invisible once it was painted.  He loves counter sinking screws 😍.

I painted everything before the shelves were assembled and just touched up the outer sides with the screw holes before the kitchen shelves were fixed to the wall.  I used Annie Sloane Clear Wax to finish as this was a matt paint.

A rare picture of Mr Husband at work with his safety slippers firmly on.  You can see the gold fixing used to secure the shelves to the wall and ta dah! the finished shelves. Obviously they were soon full – how did I manage without them?

Decorlasting green kitchen shelves

All in all the project cost was under £20 for the MDF and fixings, the paint and screws were left over from another project.

I suppose I could ‘dress’ the shelves a little more elegantly for the picture but there’s only so much time in the day.  Perhaps something later for Instagram if you care to follow.

I think it’s a much better use of space but let me know what you think. My next DIY project is going to be revamping an old side table to make a mid-century design classic (I can always hope).

Oh and if you don’t know about 5S……….



How Long Does It Take To Decorate A House? Part 2, The Compromise

I’m feeling back to full fitness after my decorating escapade the other week, see Part 1 of the blog, so here’s the second part of the story.

If you remember I left you with pictures of what needed tackling in the 7 days before a new family moved into my daughter’s rental house. Make no mistake all my skills of prioritisation came into play. We’d reluctantly come to the realisation, try as we might we were not going to get everything done in the available time, especially to the desired standard, all a bit depressing.

But chin up! first thing was clear the rubbish and stop water leaking out from places it wasn’t supposed to.  Oh and we had to clean sufficient floor space for us to set up camp – did I mention we were sleeping on airbeds in the house! Time was soon slipping by as this took the best part of the first day.

Next we started to tackle the woodwork. Ideally I would have repainted everything but we didn’t have the time (are you picking up on this theme?) so Compromise 1 was to only repaint the doors and wood in the hall and up to the first stair landing, plus the skirting board of both rooms on the first floor, they being the living room and master bedroom. The rest we just cleaned, touching up any big chips.  It was actually surprising how much better the woodwork looked after a good clean. It’s always good to clean 🙂

Decorlasting hall stairs after

It was day 3 before we were able to start putting any emulsion on walls.  We decided to paint everything white, why wouldn’t you and it would be less of a worry about the interface between the ceiling and the skirting, remember we’re not professionals and speed was important. However, the son-in-law wanted colour in some of the rooms. “Trade Magnolia” he suggested??  I pleaded “No, please don’t make me paint Magnolia” So Compromise 2, I pointed him in the direction of trade sized tubs of  grey paint, therefore no increase in cost. Trade grey – does that make grey a classic or just the new Magnolia? Something to think about.

All ceilings were painted thanks to Mr Husband who appears to love painting ceilings, something I may have left. The pictures below gives you the finished look of the two rooms painted in grey (Wickes Contract Classic Grey, Silk); the living room and the master bedroom.

At the weekend when we were at our full complement of four we split into couples, the hall and stairs for one and the two remaining bedrooms for the other; what a choice. Somewhere in between, I lose track, the bathroom and kitchen where painted white, the rotten trim replaced in the bathroom, the grass cut, the windows cleaned, the bathroom descaled (yuk) and while the carpet was being laid on the final day, the kitchen de-greased; we then took a breath. We were unable to box in the ugly boiler pipes, only managing to patch up the gaping hole behind the boiler, paint some pipes and give it all good clean: all that added up to Compromise 3.

Decorlasting kitchen after

I think that just about covers it. All good character building stuff.  There were a few tense exchanges of words, usually when all very tired and hungry. But we also managed some smiles especially while having lunch from the conveniently parked burger van. Not my usual first choice but they certainly kept us going.

It would’ve been great to have a ‘DRESSING THE ROOM’ moment however, we were all too keen to get back to our own beds. Sleeping on an airbed for seven days is not so good when you get to a certain age.

So how long does it take to re-decorate a house?  Well in this case it took all the time we had, 7 days.  I would say another 2 weeks and we would have got it looking much better 😉 How do you think we did?

Next time I want some mother and daughter bonding perhaps I will suggest a spa weekend ❤

Upcycling brown furniture

During the summer, I picked up a few bits of old brown furniture and had a go breathing new life into them though the power of paint. Everybody seemed to be doing it but this was my first time so please be kind.  I was going for a more block colour look rather than shabby chic, although to be honest I was being ambitious thinking I was going to achieve any particular look. Before I started there was a little bit of fixing to do, especially to the chair as it had a noticeable wobble and the front cross bar snapped immediately on getting it home; I may have overpaid for this 😦

Here are my ‘before’ snaps (sorry forgot to take a picture of the chest of drawers before I painted as no blog on the horizon then.)

old pics (2)

On the recommendation of a neighbour I looked to the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint range. Chateau Grey was picked and I finished it with the recommended clear soft wax.   This was the first time I’d used Chalk Paint and it was fairly straightforward to apply with minimum prep needed. I was amazed how far one small pot went, so although it seemed expensive it was well worth it.  I had enough for all the pieces and still have some left over. I need to set up a paint exchange scheme to swap my colour before everything in my house turns green!

Here are my ‘after’ snaps

I actually have all the items in my living rooms as they have a function.  I keep my old CDs and DVD’s in the drawers. The chair sits next to the French doors and gets moved outside on a sunny day and the table stores the laptop and phone chargers. I would estimate the total cost for everything (including paint and knobs) was about £150.

This is my Victorian Gentleman look 😉


In hindsight I could have been braver with the colour selection and gone more vibrant, although they do blend  well against the grey walls, functional rather than features. I’m very much liking the Annie Sloan English Yellow, Antibes Green and Aubusson Blue, so I might have fun repainting – there is always room for improvement.

Annie Sloan (2)