Friday, September 14, 2012

Furniture Makeover :: A Spotted Shelf

It's been a while since we've done a furniture makeover... so let's do a quick one, shall we? (I promise an even better one is coming soon!)

This little bookshelf was brought to me by my friend Malerie, for her little girl Gia (who should be coming home from Korea any time now!) She wanted some additional storage for her room, so we decided to make this little bookshelf a little more girly. While I think it turned out cute, I am not convinced it's going to hold up well... so while I do my "reveal" I'll also share with you a few things I would've done differently if I had this project to do over. (You might as well learn from my mistakes... right? ;)

First - we started with a sort of wood composite shelf. It wasn't real wood, or even veneer. It felt more like cardboard with a woodgrain sticker on it than anything else. (You know the kind of shelf I'm talking about? I think we've all had a similar one at some time in our life!) I'm pretty sure this was mistake #1.

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint says it can cover ANYTHING - glass, plastic, veneer, metal, etc - and so far I've believed it to be true. But I struggled some with this piece. There were places it "bubbled" and pulled away from the finish when I painted it on. It took a lot of strokes with thick paint and a lot of coats to get an even finish.  I did finally manage to get it all painted white, and waxed... so then we were on to Step 2.

I don't have pictures of the next few steps (they were that stressful) so just stay with me as I tell you mistake #2, okay? In an effort to make this piece girlier (is that a word?) I had suggested Mod Podging some bright wrapping paper on the inside of the back of this piece, so it would peek out from around her books.  So Malerie picked out a pretty polka-dot pattern and I went to work!

Let me tell you that I love Mod Podge... until I actually use it again and then I remember how much I hate it. Mod Podge is great for small projects, but I keep trying to use it for big ones. And Mod Podge + a big sheet of thin wrapping paper is a disaster waiting to happen! It took 2 tries to get a piece cut out the right size without punching a hole in it before I got it in place. Then, when I tried to Mod Podge it on, I got wrinkles EVERYWHERE! At that point though, there was no going back. So I finished it up, put a ridiculous number of Mod Podge coats OVER the wrapping paper, and let it dry. And here's the finished product!

I think it turned out pretty cute, but I'm not sure how well it will stand up to wear and tear. If I had this project to do over I would make these changes ::

#1 - Start with a real wooden shelf - or at the very least, a veneer shelf. No pressed wood or wood composite.

#2 - Instead of Mod Podging wrapping paper (which is thin and easily tears/wrinkles), I would suggest a pretty fabric! It will be much easier to work with and it should hold up better as backing. Wallpaper would probably be an okay option too (just be sure to Mod Podge over it as well as under it.)

#3 - I would probably paint a polyacrylic coat to seal a bookshelf, instead of using wax. I haven't tried this yet (so I can't recommend a brand or method) but I have a friend who uses polyacrylic with her Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. I just think it would stand up better to the wear and tear of books being pulled in and out of the shelves.

So... if you're looking for an easy way to customize a bookshelf, this is a great technique! Just make sure you learn from my mistakes, and you'll have a finished product that will hold up even better over time. :)


  1. Too cute!!! Remind me of this when I'm decorating baby girl's room. I just love it!

    1. Will do Candice! There are so many different "looks" you could accomplish with this. Wouldn't a white shelf be pretty with pink & white toile fabric backing?!

    2. Another option would be to paint the back a different color and stencil a design on it.