Rustic Cabinet Makeover Using Liming Wax

rustic cabinet liming wax

Lately I’ve been really thinking about the style direction of our home. (Okay, let’s be real, I’m overanalyzing again!) I like quite a mix of styles, and while I want to say our home is eclectic, I really think the style I’m going for is much more specific than that. After pouring over the design book Modern Rustic, I finally feel less weird about my affinity for primitive furniture alongside shiny and bright mid century duds. Rustic modern? Makes so much sense! So I’ve finally settled on a style descriptor for our home: Polished rustic modern with plenty of mid century funk. Does that make sense? I’m sure I’ll find another description I like better next week. And then another the week after that…

So going along with my affinity for rustic elements in my home, I have this cabinet that I had painted a few years ago, which I now felt should be stripped down to its natural wood state. I figured this would take a couple hours of sanding, and then a bit of waxing. Easy peasy, right? NOPE. Here’s how it all went down.

When I first purchased this cabinet at an antique expo years ago, I loved it for its teal green stain, but it didn’t feel right in my home. So I painted it gray, scraping away some of the gray paint to reveal bits of the green. But now I was ready to strip down both the gray and the green to reveal the beautiful wood underneath. The only problem was, the wood turned out to be, well, not so beautiful.

rustic cabinet before

After a few hours of sanding with 60 grit sandpaper and my palm sander, I had removed all of the paint and previous green stain, but could not get the greenish tint off of the two boards on either side of the door. So the next day I took a belt sander to it with a 50 grit belt. Just got done sanding. Dust everywhere. Jan everywhere. And still greenish wood. I then realized that the wood species is poplar, and as is often the case with poplar, the wood itself had a greenish tint, with a warmer streak to it on the edges. The middle board and side boards were a lovely warm shade of wood that I had been hoping for the entire cabinet. But not the most visible boards on the front. Ugh!

rustic cabinet refinishing

I would never be able to get rid of the green, and if I kept going at that rate, my cabinet would’ve turned into a pile of dust. So I decided— lime it! Then I’d still be able to see the grain of the wood, but not necessarily the color tones I wasn’t loving.

I had heard great things about Briwax Liming Wax, so I ordered some on Amazon (I couldn’t find it at Lowes or Home Depot), and was excited to give it a go.

rustic cabinet liming wax

I recommend really making sure your sanded surface is evenly smooth. What I mean by that is if you had been sanding with low grit paper like I was, you’ll want to incrementally get to a high grit paper (120 grit should be high enough) so that your wood will equally absorb the wax, without splotches occurring where the wood is rougher and therefore thirstier. I had a little bit of trouble with mine absorbing evenly, and regret not taking more care when sanding. When I was sanding I didn’t think it mattered since I was going for a rustic appearance. Oops!

I used a metal spatula to apply some of the wax, and then used a fine cloth to rub it into the wood using circular motions. After covering the entire piece, I took another clean cloth and wiped with the grain to remove any excess. I probably should’ve finished with a clear wax, but I couldn’t find mine, so I’ll do that after I finish unpacking my craft supplies.

rustic cabinet liming wax

So the cabinet refinishing didn’t go exactly according to plan, but I’m just going to embrace it. I was hoping to have a warmer appearance to the wood, but it feels a bit gray because of the greenish tones of the wood beneath the liming wax… and I feel like that’s just so ironic considering the cabinet was already gray before I even began this process! Ha! Still, I like it better with being able to see the wood through the wax, which gives it an extra element of texture that the painted wood just didn’t offer.

Have you all ever used liming wax before? I’ve seen such varying results across the web! I’d love to see your limed projects if you care to share.

rustic cabinet liming wax

How We Built a Floating Shelf

DIY floating shelf

When I first imagined making a floating shelf for our kitchen, I thought, Oh, this is going to be so easy! Why haven’t I done this before? Of course, once I began the project, it ended up being more intimidating than I had thought, so when my dad offered to take over this project, I enthusiastically said yes, please! A number of people on Instagram have asked about the process we used, so I thought I would share the details here. There are ways this can be done which would be more accessible to the average DIYer, but my dad is a retired manufacturing engineer with loads of fancy tools and skills, so fair warning: This process is probably more complex than what the majority of DIYers are able to do on their own.

Step One: Make the Shelf

I edge-glued pieces of 2×6 poplar boards to create the body of my shelf, then sanded, primed, wet sanded, and painted the shelf. If you want to stain your wood rather than paint, I would not recommend poplar as a wood species because of its uneven coloring. But it’s a great wood for painting! The reason I chose poplar over pine is because of its density. Pine is soft and easily dents, not to mention is typically full of knots and seeping tree sap. If you don’t want to shell out money for wood that will just be painted, you could try your hand at building the shelf with inexpensive pine or composite wood on the inside and then cover it with 1/4″ birch plywood on the top, bottom, and front edge. It would be more labor intensive to build a shelf this way, but less expensive. Keep in mind, however, that wood composites like particle board are typically heavier than a material like pine or poplar, so you’ll need to factor in the extra load when you decide how you’ll mount the shelf to your wall.

DIY floating shelf

Step Two: Router out space on the back of your shelf to inset your mounting hardware.

This is where things got a bit complicated for my skill level. It would’ve been a great learning opportunity if I didn’t have one million other projects to do in our home! The way you router out the back of your board will depend on what mounting hardware to use. Initially I thought I would just need to router or chisel out small rectangular sections for the individual blind shelf supports I had purchased on Amazon. But my dad had the idea to connect each of the rods to one long piece of steel.

DIY floating shelf

Why did we use one long piece of steel rather than individual pieces? Because our shelf could support more weight, and also because my dad knew where to source inexpensive pieces of cold rolled steel in the width we needed and he also has the tools to thread the holes where the rods I purchased on Amazon could be screwed into place. We were able to use 5 rods to support the shelf that was mounted where there were only two studs in the wall. This meant the steel was sturdily mounted to two studs, but it held 5 linked brackets rather than only one individual bracket per stud. We could have mounted individual brackets where there were no studs by using toggle bolts, but my dad seemed to think this was a better idea because all of the rods would for sure be in a perfect line and be perfectly spaced to match the holes in the shelf. A bonus of using the steel plate is that after you’ve threaded the holes for where you’ll attach the metal rods, the steel plate makes the perfect jig to match up where your holes should be drilled into the shelf!

drilling into tile

Step Three: Mount your Shelf to the Wall

One of the most nerve wracking aspects of this job, for me, was drilling into tile. Basically because I’ve never done it before, and I know how brittle the tile is because I installed the tile myself, and had to throw away a lot of chipped pieces! So I felt a little silly when I learned how simple it is. You just need a glass and tile drill bit, and lubricate it periodically during the drilling of each hole. We just had a cup of water to dip the drill in every few seconds. Easy peasy!

DIY floating shelf

After mounting the steel bracket, we used a level to make sure the rods were level, which they weren’t, probably because of choosing to mount the bracket right along the grout line. So we used feeler stock as shims behind the bottom of the steel plate to lift up the rods a bit. You can’t use wood shims in this instance because the wood is too soft and can’t stand up to the weight and pressure behind the steel.

DIY floating shelf

DIY floating shelf

Step Four: Slide the Shelf onto the Mounting Hardware

This part is also nerve-wracking, because if your holes are perfectly matching the rods, this is a no-go scenario. Thankfully my dad is as much of a perfectionist as myself (probably moreso, actually), so they were a perfect match! He used a wax candle to lubricate the rods, making it much easier to slide the shelf into place.

Floating kitchen shelf

The shelves are super sturdy, and I don’t feel limited as to how much weight I can put on it, thanks to Dad’s steel plate idea! You can also buy welded steel plate and rod brackets on Etsy and other places, if you’re not comfortable sourcing parts to make this yourself. It will be more expensive, but considering the labor involved, I’d say it’s worth it!

I’m so glad I decided to create a floating shelf rather than using shelf brackets in this kitchen, because it allows the modern tiled wall to stand out and become a predominant element in my moderately minimal kitchen design.

modern farmhouse kitchen

If you all have any questions about the shelves, my dad and I are happy to answer them in the comments below! Thanks as always for following along. It’s much more fun being about to share these home renovations with you guys.

Product Sources

Blind shelf supports: Amazon
Feeler stock / steel shims: Amazon
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore’s Super White
Outlets and switches: Legrand Radiant
Cabinet paint: Annie Sloan’s Pure White
Lighting: Hinkley Congress collection
Wall tile: Home Depot
Tile grout: TEC Silverado
Pink sink: Thermocast
Faucet: Kraus from Home Depot
Island butcher block: Lumber Liquidators sealed with Waterlox
Flooring: Lumber Liquidators maple engineered wood
Knobs: eBay
Stove: KitchenAid from Home Depot
Dishwasher: KitchenAid from Home Depot
Coffee maker: KitchenAid
Island stools: The Classy Home
Rug: vintage Turkish kilim from Etsy

The Living Room Reveal!

Boral Old Country Fieldstone Fireplace

A few months ago, I was sharing the video tour of this house, unsure of whether or not it would one day be ours. But here we are! Halfway finished with a complete redo of the first floor. A lot of you were surprised I had chosen an ’80s house, and to be honest, so was I. The home we visited with the sunken conversation pit? I was sure about that one. It was meant for me. Or maybe not, because someone else put in an offer before we had a chance. Que sera, sera, I guess! The location and floorplan of this home is probably better for our family, so I’m telling myself that it’s a good thing we missed out on the other groovy pad.

Check out our fireplace makeover and the full living room reveal at A Beautiful Mess.

MandiMakes living room makeover before

There are four reasons we confidently chose this house. The location is just down the road from the major shopping area, and I’m constantly running to the store for supplies in the midst of projects I for for my work. Plus it’s just convenient! The school district is the best in our area, and I honestly never thought I’d be able to afford a house of this size in this school district, but I guess we we just at the right place at the right time. Also, we felt pretty safe about a home built in the late ’80s being up to code without surprises with plumbing or electrical. The floor plan was a little odd, and had been slightly changed by the previous owners to close off the front sitting room and dining room, but it was perfect for our needs to have both a study and an office, as well as a closed-off yet centrally located playroom. And lastly, there were enough features that I loved about the base of this home that I knew it could be awesome with some cosmetic changes— for instance, the living room opening up to the kitchen/dining room was nice, but also I loved the bright light from all of the windows and skylights.

media center makeover

I shared my ideas a bit in the original video tour of the house, but things changed. Here is my first and second post about the living room planning and progress where I discuss my thoughts behind various options. I’m happy I went with a lighter floor in here because it added to the bright and limitless feeling I wanted for this space.

A fresh coat of Benjamin Moore’s Super White made a huge impact in the space, but obviously the transformation of the fireplace wall was super dramatic! I think it’s the best decision we’ve made for this home makeover. I actually didn’t do any demo on the fireplace wall (besides removing the mantle and carpet), instead I chose to cover up the brick with an affordable manufactured stone veneer product called Cultured Stone by Boral. I wanted a warm neutral stone with some variety in its mix, adding textural interest and even pattern to such a starkly bright white room.

Check out all of the details about the fireplace makeover at A Beautiful Mess.

after demolition

built-in nook shelving

Over at A Beautiful Mess today, you can read the entire post with even more photos of our living room reveal. I shared a lot of the thought process behind the choices for the space and talked a bit about how I define our home’s style.

You can also check out the reveal of our adjacent sunroom I shared this past fall. And next up with be the final reveal of our kitchen!

joybird taylor golden sectional

Mandi's Living Room Before and After

I was so glad we finished this space in time to decorate for Christmas and spin some of my favorite holiday records. It really made the long wait worth it! It’s also fun to see the kids enjoy the records so much, and I have to admit, I hope it contributes to a lifelong love of music for them.

media center fireplace wall

At this point in the renovation game, I’ve learned quite a few things, but the biggest piece of advice I can give is to just take things one room at a time! It can be so hard to live in a home where so many rooms are in upheaval. Not only that, but making so many decisions at once can be overwhelming and lead to bad decisions.

If you’re doing the work yourself, like we did, I’d also recommend finishing one room before beginning on another, or certain rooms can just drag on forever! For me, that has been our kitchen. I was almost finished with it at the beginning of Fall, but I literally just have two final details I haven’t been able to finish up because of the pressure to finish other rooms as well. It just became too overwhelming and I felt myself begin to shut down.

My dad retired from his career a couple of weeks ago, and I know he enjoys working on home projects, so I’m hoping having him more available will give me the motivation I need to get a second wind!

Mandi's Living Room Before and After


halloween toastWall paint: Benjamin Moore’s Super White
Fireplace stone: Boral Cultured Stone Old Country Fieldstone in Summit Peak
Flooring: Lumber Liquidators engineered bamboo
White Ardex: eBay
Large area rug: Lulu & Georgia
Sofa: Welles sectional from Joybird
Glass side table: All Modern
Coffee Table: Chairish
White chairs: 1st Dibs
White side table between chairs: LexMod
Credenza: vintage Broyhill Brasilia from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Black swing-arm wall sconce: Hayneedle
Curtain rods: IKEA
Curtains: HomeGoods
Hearth cushions: Deal Genius
Sunroom wicker chair: vintage from Main St. Modern in Canton, Ohio
Sunroom table: Lexmod
Sunroom rug: Amazon
Sunroom wall planters: West Elm
Watercolor Louise Brooks portrait on credenza: original from German artist Galerie Minimal on Etsy
Large neutral art created by my girls
Decorative trays: Home Goods
Vases, floor lamps, bar cart, photobooth panel, yellow op art, and little girl portrait are vintage.