Stripping Our Kitchen Shelves

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For the past year I’ve been eyeballing the shelves in our kitchen. When we gave our kitchen a makeover, I naturally gave them a fresh coat of white paint along with all the kitchen cabinets. It wasn’t until I looked at an image of our kitchen and realized there was way too much white. White tile floors, white upper cabinets, white backsplash, and white shelves. See where I’m going with this?

I knew what I needed to do to warm up the space: figure out how to transform the white shelves into stained, wooden shelves. I mean, new flooring would be amazing but that’s years down the road. And that’s exactly what I did with the shelves!

I took a risk and stripped the paint off the shelves with fingers crossed I’d find decent wood underneath to sand and stain. I figured, worst case scenario, I’d have to paint them back or figure out another way to install wooden shelves. Luckily, I didn’t have to do either one! I found gorgeous wood underneath the paint and started cleaning them up. You can find the tutorial at the end of this post.

Once the wood was ready to be stained, it took me a few days to pick a stain color. Stain is very intimidating to me because once you apply it, it’s very hard to remove if you don’t like it. Paint? You just paint over it with a new color if you don’t like it.

I decided to jump all in and just go for it with a stain color. You guys, I hated it. I texted images to my mom to see if I was overreacting. Nope. She didn’t like it either. The problem is that it was too dark and made our kitchen appear more rustic. The solution? Giving it a good sanding. That was the trick to lighten it enough to our liking. You can see the difference sanding made in this image.

Now that we have wooden shelves that we love, it was time to style them. I used to place items on these shelves because I needed a place for an item to go. In other words, junk shelves like a junk drawer for those items you don’t know what to do with.

This time around I kept functionality and what we truly love in mind when styling them. First up was a houseplant to add a cozy feel to the shelves. When in doubt, add a plant.

I also knew I wanted white canisters for our sugar and coffee beans. Throw in these adorable plates I received for Christmas, another shelf was done! For the last two remaining shelves, I added our go-to cookbooks and items we frequently use. Okay, we may not use the scale so much but it’s the perfect addition on top of the cookbooks.

So, there you have it! Brand new kitchen shelves that cost us $0 to flip because we had all the materials to give them a makeover. And we love the results! Wondering how we did it? Keep reading! Sharing the quick tutorial on how to strip paint back to the natural wood.

How to Strip Paint to Expose the Natural Wood

Old Brush
Putty Knife
Baby Wipes + Paper Towels
Disposable Gloves
Metal or Plastic Container

Step 1: Wearing gloves, you’ll pour the Citristrip in a metal or plastic container. Apply the Citristrip to the painted surface you’re wanted to strip using an old brush.

Step 2: Allow the Cirtristrip to sit for for at least 30 minutes. You’ll see the paint start bubbling right away but you really want to give the paint stripper time to work throughout the entire surface you’re stripping.

Step 3: Using the paint scrapper, remove the paint by scrapping in the same direction. You’ll discover how easily the paint is removed! Keep in mind, it might take more than one application to fully remove the paint.

Step 4: I’ve always used a baby wipe followed by a paper towel to remove any excess paint stripper.

Step 5: Sand the freshly exposed wood with 180 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit sandpaper for a smooth finish.

Step 6: Stain and seal your exposed wood if you choose to! We used Briarsmoke followed by heavy sanding to lighten them after thinking they were too dark. We sealed the shelves with sating polycrylic.

Sometimes the smallest changes have the biggest impact when it comes to home projects. This was one of them. I’d love to see how you style your shelves in your home or how you like Citristrip if you try it. It’s our go to product for stripping paint! As always, thank you for stopping by! We appreciate each and every single one of you and this community we have all built together.

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  1. Pat says:

    Um…look at those nice, crisp caulk lines! ???? Seriously though, I love this makeover! I have shelves in our “library” that were stained, but I want a change. Do you think a nice sanding will do the trick?

    • Suzan Ford says:

      Paint stays on the surface of the wood which makes it fairly easy to remove. Stain, however, seeps into the wood, which can make it difficult to remove. You could be sanding for a very long time.

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