How I (usually) Finish Natural Timber Furniture

I was gonna write this post in conjunction with the ‘before and after’ reveal of Charlotte’s new table (which was going to have a natural timber finish), though I kinda changed my mind about the look I was going for there, so instead I decided to write it with a more general focus (I’m still working on Charlotte’s table so will share it in an upcoming post).

Of course there are endless ways to approach timber finishes, this is simply one of my common methods. It’s a process I use often because 1) it produces good results, and 2) it is pretty fast and super easy.

It’s how I finished all these pieces…

How to Stain and Seal Wooden Furniture

1 | 2 | 3

It’s a simple process which can be broken into three basic steps…

How To Finish Timber Furniture

The amount of preparatory work needed will depend on the particular piece you are working with (new/old) and the type of look you want to achieve (rustic/clean).
Some items will require paint stripper (there are loads of different paint strippers available – always read the manufacturer’s instructions and, if possible, choose something natural) or heavy sanding (I usually use a belt sander, palm sander or sanding block – or a combination of all three), other pieces may simply need a good rub with steel wool.
Ideally, timber should be uniformly smooth and raw for the penetrating stain to look consistent, though for a more rustic, uneven appearance some residual stain or varnish is usually okay.
Remove any dust and grime prior to staining by wiping the timber with a clean cloth dampened with methylated spirits.

Timber stain is a penetrating tint available with either an oil or water base, and in a myriad of different colours. I don’t personally find there’s much difference between oil and water based varieties, and usually just use whatever I have on hand. One of my favourite colours is Walnut, which I sometimes blend with black for a rich, dark hue.
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular stain for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply stain by sweeping a dipped cloth in the direction of the timber grain, then, if necessary, sweeping again with a clean cloth to remove any excess. I keep strokes long and continuous to avoid uneven colouration (short, stuttered strokes can leave noticeable ‘lines’). I apply as many coats as necessary to achieve my desired depth of tone, allowing drying time between applications.
Keep in mind that the colour of your timber substrate may effect the hue of the stain and that your seal coat may enrich any dullness.

Danish oil (also know as Scandinavian oil) is a blend of oil (usually tung or linseed) and varnish. Unlike oil it is hard drying, long lasting and durable. Unlike varnish it is super easy to apply and produces a natural, mellow sheen, rather than a glossy shine. It is one of my absolute favourite sealers. I first mentioned it on my blog a few years back (in one of my very early posts) and received a surprisingly appreciate response from many of my readers who, after having tried it, were super glad to have been introduced to it!
Of course, refer to the manufacturer’s notes of your particular oil for precise application directions, though as a general guide; I usually apply Danish oil with a brush or cloth in long continuous strokes in the direction of the timber grain. Around twenty minutes following application, if necessary, I wipe off any excess with a clean cloth (thick coats can look quite glossy). I usually apply around two – three coats, allowing ample drying time between applications.


Hopefully this post has been helpful or enlightening for some of you guys :-) And next time I actually finish a piece using this method I’ll be sure to write a detailed tutorial with photos.
At the mo’ I’m still slowly chipping away at Charlotte’s room and will try to publish a progress post next week!


Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves (for behind a door)

How To Make and Mount Narrow Floating Shelves | The Painted Hive

As mentioned in my last post, I’m trying to capitalise on the modest proportions of Charlotte’s new little bedroom by making use of as much space as possible. This includes taking advantage of the often forgotten area behind the door.

Behind Door Bookshelves Before

One of the first elements I envisaged for her room was a series of simple narrow bookshelves, reminiscent of those from my very own kindergarten, which display the face of the books, rather than the spines, in a semi-haphazard, layered fashion. Given most of the wall space (reachable by a two year old!) will be occupied by furniture, I thought the slim cavity behind her door would be perfect for this. Of course, a quick Google search revealed my idea wasn’t original (damn you Google – computer directed fist shake), though it is still a clever way to use a defunct wall, and whilst floating shelves aren’t exactly unique either, the design and construction of these babies is all mine (well, Google would probably contradict me there too, though I decided that ignorance is bliss!).

This tutorial is based on mounting the shelves to a hollow cavity plaster wall. If you have a solid wall or access to studs, obviously you can omit the use of anchors. These shelves are super thrifty – they cost me less than $15!

How To Make Floating Shelves | The Painted Hive

1 Lengths of timber.
I used Pine DAR (Dressed All Round) – two lengths of 3cm wide x 1.2cm deep x 120cm long (1.2″ wide x 0.5″ deep x 4′ long) which I cut in half to make four pieces, for the shelves themselves, and two lengths of 2cm wide x 1.2cm deep x 120cm long (0.8″ wide x 0.5″ deep x 4′ long) which, again, I cut in half to make four pieces, for the ‘lips’. Of course you can use any timber you like.

2 Stain/paint.
I wanted a natural timber finish so used walnut stain and danish oil. I was tempted to go for neon spray paint which I think would add a pretty cool colour pop.

3 Drywall anchors/plaster plugs/cavity wall fixings.
I used nylon toggle anchors rated to 8kg (that’s plenty of strength for my purposes). Ensure the head of your anchors is smaller in diameter than the depth of your shelf timber otherwise they will be visible.

4 Screws.
I used 8cm (3″) long screws as specified by the anchor manufacturer. Keeping in mind that a large portion of your screw will be inside the shelf, make sure they are long enough to easily penetrate the wall. Ensure the head of your screws is flat and is smaller in diameter than the head of your anchors.

5 Finishing nails.
I used slim 3cm (1″) long nails.

6 Books!

DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves

STEP 1 Drill pilot holes width-wise through your shelf base.

If necessary, first cut your timber to length and lightly sand all pieces to smooth any roughness. For now, set aside the ‘lip’ lengths. Use a reasonably fine bit to carefully drill small pilot holes width-wise through the shelf base around 10cm (3″) in from each end (refer to pic).

I used two holes for each of my shelves. You may require more holes if your shelves are longer. So, why bother with pilot holes? Well, if you’re super confident you can forgo them, though given the narrowness of the timber creating straight central holes is imperative (so the timber doesn’t split and the screws aren’t visible) though also tricky. Using a smaller drill bit first to create pilot holes to act as a guide is just a little easier. If some of your pilot holes get a little wayward, simply fill them with putty (or similar), move along and try again. I may, or may not, have had one, or more, slightly wayward holes :-)

Behind Door Bookshelves

STEP 2 Drill through your pilot holes with a larger bit.

Using your pilot holes as a guide, drill through with a larger bit to create holes big enough to comfortably accommodate your screws.

DIY Floating Bookshelves

STEP 3 Counter-sink the holes.

Using a larger bit again, carefully drill a shallow depression, deep enough to counter-sink the heads of your screws by around 2mm (.05″) (refer to pic).

Behind Door Floating Shelves

STEP 4 Finish your timber lengths as desired.

At this stage, stain or paint all of your timber lengths. As touched on in the ‘Supplies’ section above, I tinted my timber with walnut stain and sealed it with danish oil. Don’t forget to look super cool when you’re undertaking this step – wearing a highly fashionable pair of ill-fitting pink latex gloves should do the trick.

How to Make Floating Shelves

STEP 5 Insert your anchors into the wall.

Decide where you want to mount your shelf on the wall then measure and mark accordingly (use a cable and stud finder to ensure the wall cavity is clear, and a level and tape measure to ensure everything is straight). To accurately and easily determine where you will need to insert your wall anchors, hold your shelf in position against the wall (ensure it is in the exact location you want it) then push each screw tip into the wall to create small indentations which will act as your guide (refer to pic). Using a drill bit just large enough to make a hole which can accommodate your anchors, drill into the wall through the indentations, then push your anchors in until they sit flush against the plaster (you may need to use a hammer to tap the anchors in). Certain anchors do not require pre-drilling and can be screwed directly into the wall. Refer to the manufacturer instructions for your particular anchors.

How To Make Narrow Floating Bookshelves

STEP 6 Mount your shelf to the wall.

Align the tips of your screws with the wall anchors then screw them in until the shelf sits flush against the wall and the heads of the screws are nestled into the counter-sunk depressions. If, like me, you are using soft pine, the screws will probably recess further upon tightening. This is fine.

Behind Door Storage Bookshelves

STEP 7 Attach the ‘lip’.

Hold your ‘lip’ in position in front of the shelf then create pilot holes for your nails, around 3cm (1″) in from each end and one in the center (obviously avoid where the screws are already located), by drilling through with a very fine bit (note; fine bits can snap easily, so take care – um, no, I’m not speaking from experience here…okay, maybe I am :-) Ensure your drill bit is slightly smaller in diameter than your nails and try not to drill in the entire length of the nail. If the holes are too big and deep the nails wont ‘grab’ the timber. Still holding your lip in position, carefully hammer in your nails. If needed, use a punch to tap the nails so they are slightly recessed. If desired, use a pen, marker or paint to camouflage the nail heads. I used a black marker to mimic small imperfections in the timber grain.

DIY Floating Bookshelves

STEP 8 Done! Adorn your shelves with lovely children’s books and create a library-esque feel in your little kiddie’s room!

Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves Tutorial | The Painted Hive

Easy DIY Narrow Floating Bookshelves (for behind a door) | The Painted Hive

:: I chose to use nails and no glue so if ever I want to remove the shelves I can simply pry the ‘lip’ off to access the screws.
:: If you are installing shelves behind a door, take note of where the handle sits and allow enough room for its protrusion. And, if you don’t already have one, install a good door stop or catch.
:: I purposefully designed these shelves to be slender, simple and discreet, holding only a portion of Charlotte’s book collection at a time (her other books will live on our bookcase and in baskets beneath her bed – we will rotate them occasionally).
:: The narrowness of the ledge means that some care and restraint is needed when adding books so they are configured in a somewhat balanced manner, otherwise they might have a tendency to topple over (this basically means avoiding stacking them too deeply – they need a slight lean).
:: Of course, there are heaps of variations you could make to this design, both style and function wise, to best suit your needs.
:: Whilst I’ve positioned my shelves behind a door to hold books there is no reason you couldn’t use them in a more prominent position to display photos or artwork.

Floating Bookshelf Behind Door Storage | The Painted Hive

I really love the way these little shelves turned out. I was tempted to install them floor to ceiling though restrained myself because I want the added practicality of coat hooks on the upper portion of the wall (still yet to buy said hooks). Soooo, onto the next project I guess!



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Map My State

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A Plan for Charlotte’s ‘Big Girl’ Room

Every now and again, I get a question from a reader asking why I haven’t yet shared photos of my kitchen, bathroom and laundry. My usual response is generally along the lines of “because they’re pretty darn crappy”.

Yep, I know it might seem hard to believe, though all of our ‘wet’ areas still remain un-touched. Without going into too much detail, our kitchen, bathroom and laundry all require more than a mere aesthetic update, and whilst there are always temporary cosmetic changes I could have made, over the past few years I’ve chosen to focus my decorating energy elsewhere, and have been happily chipping away at our less demanding ‘dry’ areas (and walking through my kitchen wearing blinker hands).

Recently though, I have come to realise two, well actually, three, things; 1) we have reached the last of our ‘dry’ spaces (inevitable tweaking and updating aside), 2) I think I have finally found the motivation, courage, commitment and decisiveness needed to tackle some bigger, more permanent room re-dos, and 3) our shower is about to fall apart!

At the moment, finishing Charlotte’s room is my top priority, though once it’s done I’ll be moving straight on to our bathroom (which I may, or may not, have already started planning – so excitement!).


As is the case with most spaces in our home, Charlotte’s room is pretty miniature. It measures just 2.5 x 2.5 meters (8 x 8 feet), has a small built-in robe and a full length window.

It was originally our guest room, which was never properly decorated, though it became more of a storage space/dumping ground after Charlotte was born…

Charlotte's Room Before 2012

Holy moly! I had totally forgotten just how bad these before pics were! In my defence, I only remembered to take before photos after I’d already purged the entire wardrobe. The room was ordinarily much less hoarder-ly (my inner neat freak is hyperventilating just looking at these shots!). Here’s a much more respectable pic from about five years ago…

Charlotte's Room Before

Ah, that’s better (kinda). As you can see, that standard double-sized bed consumes pretty much the entire floor area. It looks like the door is partially closed, though it opens onto an angled wall and is actually fully ajar.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that poor Charlotte has been in her new room for around six months now with little more than a solitary single-sized bed. Thankfully, that’s all about to change!

So, here’s my rough plan (furniture configuration and mood concept). Of course, the design of the actual room will be dictated by what bargains I can hunt down. Bear in mind that the virtual renderings are relatively basic. I hope to inject lots of personality with cute accessories and a sense of comfort with cozy bedding.

Charlotte's Room Overhead

Charlotte's Room Overhead Virtual Rendering

Charlotte's Room Overhead Rendering

Virtual Rendering Charlotte's Room

1 BED Deciding on the style and placement of the bed helped govern the overall scheme and layout. The best position for a single bed is against the window, and so it can be centrally aligned, a symmetrical ‘day bed’ style bed is ideal. As touched on above, and briefly blogged about here, I have already bought and re-finished (heavily modified) the bed (well, technically, beds – more on that to come!). I’m yet to finalise linen, blankets and pillows. The bed shown in the virtual plan is merely a basic representation of the actual bed which doesn’t have underneath drawers. I plan to create some large rolling baskets for storage instead.

2 CHEST OF DRAWERS To incorporate some warmth and character, and provide additional storage, I want a generously proportioned dark timber antique chest of drawers, similar to the one in our nursery. I contemplated using a free-standing cupboard or tall shelving unit instead though decided they would be too imposing in the small room. I also considered using a smaller, more traditional bedside table though figured a larger chest of drawers would provide more storage and better capitalise on the existing wall space.

3 RUG There is nothing wrong with our dark taupe carpet though I really like the dimension, texture and sense of cohesion a rug can bring to a space. Given the size and shape of the room, a rug with organic lines would be lovely (something like a faux hide or sheepskin). Failing that, a rectangular or circular jute rug would be almost equally as welcome.

4 WINDOW DRESSING This is brave for me! I generally like to keep window dressings plain and neutral, introducing sparing colour and pattern in more transient items, though I just can’t kick my craving for vintage style yellow floral drapes! I have been searching (slightly obsessively) for the perfect fabric, concentrating my hunt on affordable vintage bed sheets. I plan to hang the curtains from a natural bamboo pole. We have already installed a very dull, though perfectly practical, black-out roller blind which I plan to zhush-up with some textural fabric. The curtains will be functional though will remain predominately stationary, their main roles being to; hide the ugly ends of the roller blind, block the sneaky light creeping in from the sides, and look pretty.

5 CEILING FAN The big west facing window greedily consumes all of the hot afternoon sunshine, turning Charlotte’s room into a little oven! A ceiling fan is mandatory and we have already installed a simple antique brass one. I’m not a big fan of ceiling fans with attached lights though, as is the case with the fan in our master bedroom, Charlotte’s fan replaced the original ceiling light so re-incorporating it just makes too much practical sense (unfortunately).

6 WALL LAMPS I love the look of hard-wired sconces though given Charlotte’s room will likely see numerous configurations over the coming few years, I’m not ready to commit to that just yet. I’m contemplating installing corded wall lamps instead. We’ll see.

7 ARTWORK The wall décor shown in the renderings is simply suggestive. I like the idea of a big chalkboard, an eclectic gallery wall, small vintage prints, educational charts, large scale antique oil paintings in decorative gilt frames….I could go on :-) I’ll make a decision regarding artwork once the big elements are all in place and I can actually see the vacant wall space.

8 STUMP TABLE/STEP STOOL This is just a thought. I like the idea of placing a small, quirky element beside the bed though I’m yet to determine if it will realistically work in the space. We’ll see.

Charlotte's Room Virtual Rendering

9 TABLE & CHAIR To avoid impeding the flow from the door, quite a narrow table is needed. I’ve found that most kid’s tables are far too deep, so I’ve been searching for a petite hall or coffee table to use instead, however finding something with appropriate proportions has proven tricky. We just might end up making something custom from scratch. To reference the chest of drawers I like the idea of a dark timber table with simple lines. To contrast this I want a rustic white chair with some character. I have been hunting for a cute cottage-y style kid’s chair forever! If you’re in Victoria (Australia) and happen to stumble across one, feel free to let me know :-)

10 BOOKSHELVES To utilise the ‘dead’ space behind the door, I want to install a series of minimal floating bookshelves. Above these, a row of hooks can neatly collect strewn coats and hats.

11 BUILT-IN ROBE I have plans to clad the plain bi-fold panels with decorative timber trim to resemble antique barn doors.

12 WALLS Call me lazy, though we’re not painting. The existing soft cream (Chalk USA by Dulux) forms a great neutral canvas. In a few years time, when Charlotte claims greater ownership of her space, I’m sure the walls will probably wear some shade of pink (probably much to my dismay :-)

 Charlotte's Room Virtual Plan

Soooo, whadya think? This will be my first attempt at a kid’s room so any ideas, suggestions or well wishes are more than welcome.


UPDATE There has been quite a bit of interest in the program I use to create my virtual designs. I’m lucky to have Chief Architect software (which I received as a birthday present a few years ago). They offer lots of different products, ranging in price from $60 (for home enthusiasts) to over $2000 (for professionals). It’s a powerful and complex program which takes time, patience and persistence to master (heck, I’m still learning) though it is pretty awesome.


The Design Cookbook

A little while ago, I was pleasantly surprised to be contacted by Kelly Edwards, who wanted to include two of my projects in her new publication, The Design Cookbook!

The Design Cookbook

My Hacked IKEA Drawers and Baking Canister Labels are both featured in this design guidebook which includes an array of inspirational DIY ‘recipes’.

It’s still always a big treat to see my projects on paper.


PS Just a little note to say I hope these ‘Press’ related posts don’t come across sounding too conceited. I generally publish them, not to brag or seek congratulations, though as a means of documenting the places my projects have been featured :-)


Home Tour!

I know what you’re thinking.

“Home tour? What the? I already feel like I basically live in portions of your house I’ve seen that many self-gratifying photos of it”.

Yeah, I know. Sorry ’bout that. Though in my defence our little house is kinda the heartbeat of this here blog :-) And I think some of you actually might enjoy seeing pics of it too, which is why I don’t feel too narcissistic about having added even more!

Since re-designing and freshly launching my blog (almost ten months back now), I’ve been wanting to create some kind of virtual home tour which musters together images of all my finished* spaces and collates them in one convenient place. Well, I’ve finally assembled a dedicated slideshow which does just that!

*Finished refers to any one state of momentary completion in the perpetual evolution of a home bloggers abode.

Home Tour Slideshow

The above image is a still shot only. Click to go to the actual slideshow.

The slideshow will live in the ‘My Hive‘ page (located in the menu bar beneath my header). There’s no provision for leaving a comment there though if you feel so inclined you can always pop back here :-)

Sit back and watch it slowly graduate, pause it, speed it up by clicking the ‘Next’ button, choose a specific image from the thumbnail grid beneath it, or click on any full-sized photo to be taken to that room’s post excerpts (where you can explore the space further or head right back to the beginning and follow the room’s total evolution)…

 Post Excerpts

At present, the slideshow includes the most recent photos I have of our six “made-over” spaces though I intend to keep it as up-to-date as possible, which means adding new images as further rooms are renovated and updating existing pics as already included rooms are inevitably tweaked, and then re-tweaked!