Upcycled Apothecary Shelf

imageI had been needing a one stop shop for my jars and packages of herbs, beeswax, salves, powders,  oils, and essential oils.  The kitchen cabinets were becoming cluttered and I had been itching to try a wood reclamation project; an apothecary shelf seemed like a simple project.

I visited my favorite local flea market to find a sturdy wood shelf. When searching for a shelf to use, look past any details that you do not like.  The heart on this shelf reminded me of country craft écor my mom had in our home in the 1980’s so that detail had to go. I also cut off the rounded edges at the bottom. Blunt edges seem more modern.

A circular saw will come in handy, but if needed a small hand held saw may work if you want to remove unattractive or out of date details on the perimeter of the wood piece that you find.

The ‘before’ picture is the shelf that I found for just $4 at a flea market. I find flea markets and garage sales tend to be much cheaper than antique malls.  You may also be able to raid your mom or grandma’s garage for something like this below…


You will need:

  • Sturdy wood shelf
  • Craft wood for doors (or reclaimed wood pieces/plywood would also work)
  • Two hinges with screws
  • Two door knobs
  • Paint- White or antique White
  • Clear enamel spray paint to ‘seal and finish’


  • Circular saw, Jig Saw, and/or small hand saw
  • Power drill with small drill bit
  • Sandpaper
  • Screwdriver (for screws for hinges)
  • Optional: Instead of spray paint can user clear antique wax to ‘seal and finish’
  • Optional: Decorative nails, brads, or tacks for adornment

For the doors on the bottom shelves I used cheap craft wood I found at  Meijer store for a few dollars each but you can also use plywood or reclaimed wood. I did have to cut them a little to fit.

Step 1: Saw off any details you do not like, sand well, and remove dust. (Wear a mask and do not inhale dust)!

Step 2: Paint shelf with an antique white or off-white craft paint. I used one base coat of spray paint and a second layer of craft paint.

Step 3: Paint the doors (same off white or an alternative color to make the doors ‘pop’ with a color).

Step 4:  Anchor hinge to inside of wood shelf opening with screws provided in hinge packaging. This is the tricky part, you want it anchored in a spot so that once you attach the ‘door’ it will still open and shut.  You just have to experiment, place and hold the hinge and door and ‘pretend’ to open and shut it to determine where to drill your holes. Another set of hands is very helpful here!

Mark where you want to drill holes. Pre-drill holes with the small drill bit so your screws will go in easier (and straighter).



Step 5: Attach hinge to inside of wood shelf with screws provided in hinge packaging.



Step 6: Attach door to the other side (outside) of the hinge. I used two copper brad/nails to anchor my door to the hinge and bent them around the inside and sealed with strong adhesive glue.

You could also just use screws, but they will show on the front of your finished product. A fitted washer can help anchor the screw if you go that route.


Final Door Attached

Step 7: Drill holes in each door: Attach door knobs. (You could do this step earlier in process).

Step 8: Using sandpaper, sand shelves down in certain spots to ‘expose’ the brown wood.  This gives the antique look. Corners and edges are key.

Step 9: Spray with clear coat of spray paint (avoid hinges) or antique wax to ‘seal and finish.’

Step 10:  In order to mount on the wall, I attached two saw-tooth hanging hardware pieces to the back of the shelf. You can also pick up heavy duty hanging kits at the hardware or from one of the links below.


Add Unique Adornments

This is the fun part! Add adornments, decorative tacks, brads, or pushpins.  You can pick up items like this at a hardware store for just a few dollars. At the bottom of this article are some links to order items like this from Amazon.

Copper, dark brass, or antique silver all look nice and give a modern touch.  You can attach measuring or mixing spoons to the sides of the shelves, for example.

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I used door knobs but you could use door handles instead. You could cut a ‘window’ in the middle of the door so you can see the items inside the doors. The door knob screw is too long for the craft wood I used, but it would work perfectly if you used plywood for your doors.

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I added a few eyelet screws to the bottom of the shelf, so I could hang decorative chalkboards.  I picked these chalkboards up in a dollar bin at a retail store: 6 for $1. It will be fun to customize these with different words or sayings.

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Before and After!


This was a truly fun project. I worked on it in steps so it was not too overwhelming and because of limited time in the evenings. It took me about 4 sessions of 30 minutes each to complete.  I also have to thank my dad for the circular saw tutorial and assistance! (Ahem, he did most of the sawing, I practiced).

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  I now have the perfect storage area for all of my Young Living Essential Oils!

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DIY cabinet door art

You don’t have to use antique white. This is some wall art I made out of an old bathroom cabinet door. I layered white paint, then teal, then sanded down to the brown for a multi-colored antique look.

Links to Recommended Products for this Project. Click to order.

  15 pieces SPRINGTIME Push Pins – Antique Silver

Black & Decker JS660 Jig Saw with Smart Select Dial, Orange

National Hardware V2508 Push Pin Hangers in Brass

The Hillman Group 122686 Upholstery Nail, Bronze


(I may receive compensation if you order from an Amazon affiliate link above. This helps me keep my site running and does not affect your final cost, nor do I have access to your personal information).


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