If you're ready to create a popular wood stained shiplap-style focal wall in your home, professional interior designer Leslie Hart-Davidson from HDD Studios is ready with a tutorial on the best DIY techniques.

Pallet decor has leveled up recently with more refined wood in varying stain intensities. Fireplaces, entry focal walls, living room features, commode backings and door coverings are all popular areas for this new treatment. Home Depot now sports an endcap with 1"x4"x8' "Barn Wood Trim" in a distressed gray finish for about $8 per board. While this pre-finished, conveniently-rustic project lumber sounds like heaven, you should know that you have many, many more choices available for this look.

Before you take on your own DIY project, please keep in mind these 3 rules for rustic wood staining projects:

1. Only stain lumber in a well-ventilated, non-flammable environment.

2. Protect the area where you are staining by putting down a dropcloth and wearing gloves, plus keeping baby wipes nearby.

3. Prepare each board by properly sanding each raw edge, removing all staples and wiping down all boards with a T-shirt rag or old sock before applying stain.


With the board sanded and prepped, dip your sock or foam brush in the stain (Minwax makes some incredible quality stains), then wipe on the first coat. If you're pleased with the intensity of color, wipe off the layer with the opposite side of the sock or some paper towels, then resume. Keep baby wipes nearby to combat sticky stain hands. When applying the stain, start first by applying and wiping off the first coat. If you desire more opacity, apply another coat. No worries if it's too intense a stain; simply sand and lightly reapply until you reach your ultimate color.


"Manufactured rustic" is a profitable trend. If you need to size rustic looking boards (whether artificially or naturally weathered) and are left with a naked end, there's a great way to make the cut side match the face. Simply select 2-3 prominent colors from the weathered board, then squeeze a dab of each color in the bottom of a disposable cup. To mix he colors, take a plastic fork and swirl the colors about three times in the cup. Dab a paper towel into the mixture, then press lightly on the naked end of the rustic board. Resist the temptation to wipe the paint away; the imperfect nature of the mixture is what makes it so convincing.

For more information: www.designisademocracy.com and www.pinterest.com/designdemocracy/

Leslie Hart-Davidson, owner/lead designer
HDD Studios