Book Shelf


The project I just finished was a really fun one. It gave me the opportunity to pull out all the stops in refinishing and distressing. This little book shelf holds so many joyful stories and memories, I knew it would be fun to work on. So, when I found it at a moving sale I couldn’t help but bring it home.

The shelf is on the small side, but just perfect for the little nook at the top of the stairs in What’s Old Is New. I had been on the hunt for something to stand under the cool, architectural arch I found at a home décor boutique when I was visiting my family in Chicago. You’ll see that in the after photos below. Even though the shelf was in rough shape I knew it would be the perfect match.

You know how much I adore old, handmade furniture because it’s infused with history and love. This piece was made on a budget, out of scraps. At first glance I was intrigued by the barn siding back and the knotty pine top, sides and shelves. I could see the character through the layers of paint. When I placed my hand on it I saw a young father piecing together scraps of wood, creating something special. When it was stained and dried, he carried it in to his children’s bedroom and loaded all the books that were stacked in the corner onto it. That night the boys picked the first book off of its shelves for their bedtime story and gleefully handed it to their mom. A tradition was born. The bookshelf was passed down to children and grandchildren. It’s full of years of bedtime stories and giggles and good night kisses.

It also had years of different finishes and paint. So, I had the fun of using everything from paint stripper to scrapers to a power washer and sand paper. Another exciting aspect of this project is that I almost remembered to take before pictures. After I started. So, I snapped a few during pictures instead.

How I Transformed It:

  1. I used a paint stripper to take off the layers of paint and stain. The paint was stubborn and wouldn’t all come off. But, I discovered the white flecks that were left gave it character, so I left a smattering of them.IMG_1903 (1)
  2. After the finishes were removed, I was surprised to see how bright the wood still was after all the years. I wanted the bookcase to look old and weathered. To help nature along I power washed it. And that strong white paint still stuck. Then I let it sit out in the hot summer sun for about a week to mellow out the tone and make sure it dried thoroughly.
  3. Using a dove grey stain, applied with a soft cloth, I gave the whole bookshelf two coats. Then let it dry for a few days.
  4. The last step was sanding. The wear and tear marks on a piece like this would be the tops of the shelves where books slide on and off. As well as the sides where little hands would hold on while children reached for books. For depth, I sanded the top and sides to show the layers of color under the grey stain. Most of the white speckles were left inside and on the undersides the shelves.
  5. Finally, I dusted off the residue from sanding and carried it up to its new home. The last step was to fill it with favorite books and precious treasures.

When working on any project always remember to read and follow all product instructions and use safety gear like eye protection and gloves.

Calling all fellow DIY enthusiasts. I would love to see what you’ve been working on! Please visit me on Facebook and share ideas and photos of your projects.



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