Monday, March 28, 2011

Decoupage Bookshelf

I. Love. Books. Especially old ones with faded covers or notes written in the margins. My house is filled with stacks of colorfully bound thrifted copied of poetry, dictionaries, plays and classics. I am constantly amazed what paper and glue can become. Ahem, for instance...

I recently inherited a bookcase that needed some serious craft love and after playing around with the idea of paint, I decided to go back to an old favorite of mine: decoupage. Instead of hours of sanding, priming and painting, in the time it takes to watch a youth baseball game, I can give a small neglected shelf a second chance.

Here it is in its now former glory. Take a look at that trim. And the hardware. But the shelf itself was in good condition.

I keep a couple of my favorite books specifically for aesthetic projects aside; all kinds of stuff like expired atlases, old art books and classic children's tales. I originally was going to use a children's book to decoupage the shelf, but after surveying the kids spaces I realized they had no room for another stick of furniture. Instead I chose a rejected copy of Shakespear's Othello for a living room side table.

I know this picture is upside down. Blogger and I were having a disagreement... It won.

A screwdriver did double duty to remove the hardware and pry off the trim.

Lots of glue, pages and little hands made this project come together quickly. I cut the pages out of the book with a blade and a straight edge. The sticky stuff was Mod Podge. Spreading the glue on a old cookie sheet and laying the bookshelf on a old beach towel helped keep the mess to a minimum. No one ever said decoupage was a nice neat project. By the way, if you use a cookie sheet, make sure you do not plan on using it for baking again. My sheet is for craft purposes only.

We started on the insides of the shelf. This consumed much of the front half of the book with most of the handwritten notes. If you have ever had the good intention of taking notes in the margins of book, you know you never can carry the extra effort past the halfway point. Had I thought of it ahead of time, I would have planned for those to be on the more visible surfaces. Oh well.

Two quick coats of high gloss black spray paint on the original hardware and the transformation was complete. So the total cost of this spiffy table... NOTHING!

The book had just enough pages to decoupage the entire surface, including most of the interior of the drawer. Literally I had one sheet left and it was completely blank.

After I realized the issue with all the cool pages ending up where no one could appreciate them, I managed to save a few of the important pages for featured places on the drawer front and top.

I think the black and white is such a simple backdrop for my colorful books and other favorite things. Only the tops of the shelves did not get papered, but you can't notice unless you are lying on your stomach taking this picture.

All of my work is far from perfect and this close up shows it. I totally love it bubbles, wrinkles, creases and all!

When it finally warms up outside I would like to protect my favorite (and first in a long time) decoupage project with a coat of polyurethane. Hmmm... do you think that will work?

Imagine what you could do with this... vintage children's picture books with beautiful sketches covering a playroom wall, cookbook images and recipes for a kitchen shelf (thanks Erica!)... Maybe old sports cards from when you were a kid... What you can come up with?

(This is where you participate. Go ahead and leave a comment and wow the other readers with your insanely creative ideas...)

If you like what I have done with this shelf, you may also like this one I did last summer.


  1. I am going to try this tonight with an old bookcase and a precious moments bedtime story book that my goats started to snack on. Wish me luck

  2. Good luck!!! How did it turn out? Feel free to share your photos on our Facebook page.

  3. love it! so happy i stumbled across this... i just spray painted an old nightstand, but i didn't sand it first. i worry that it's going to start chipping/scratching... if so, i'm just going to add a favorite quote or passage, as needed!! thanks so much!!

    1. I personally love that chippy finish!

  4. This is almost EXACTLY what I was looking for! Truly! I love Yahoo! search, truly, LOL. I will be making this as soon as I get paid. I've pinned it so when I get a picture of it, I can post it for you. My first project will be a funny little bookcase with NO BOTTOM shelf that my DH picked up somewhere. It's great it has no bottom shelf, because that way, our three dogs can stash their toys there, LOL. The rest of the case will be for visiting little ones -- books and DVDs and the like. This shelf actually holds our computer when we want to watch an "on demand" movie. I REALLY like this! Thanks!

    1. Love ALL your ideas! Glad you found us!

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