Updating an Old Inexpensive Bookshelf.

Gail Salminen
by Gail Salminen
I have been looking for a new bookshelf for a few years now. I needed one that was narrow and had an orangish tinge to the finish, the spot in the room for the shelf is limited and the colour of woods in the room have an orangish tinge to them. They now make bookshelves deeper that they used to. So I too an old cheap bookshelf and applied Ashley @ Domestic Imperfection's paper bag technique. Here are the results;
Lessons learned on this project;
1. When tearing your paper save the straight edged pieces separately - these will make it easier to apply the straight edges at the back and inside top of the bookcase.
2. When you have completed covering the case in paper, find where the holes are for the shelf support - do this while it is still wet, even mark the holes with toothpicks as you go. We had to drill new holes because once all was done, stained and polyurethaned it was rock hard and we couldn't tell where they were. Hence now it is a two shelf case.
3. When doing the shelves, don't do the ends that go against the sides of the case. This makes them too thick and thickness has already been added by applying the paper to the sides. We had to use a rubber mallet to tap the shelf in place after drilling holes but that shelf aint going anywhere now! LOL
4. When following instructions from someone's post visit the lilnks as well - people have lots of tips that you learn ahead of time.
What I started with
cardboard back was replaced with plyqood
The depth is only 8" which is perfect for the narrow space I needed it for.
original shelf
In the process of applying the brown paper
Finished shelf
Finished top of the bookshelf
Bookshelf filled with books
This is my first roadside rescue. The card with the before photos became corrups :P Note the orange tinge to the finish. Was used in a workroom to store old paint and was a mess!
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4 of 17 comments
  • Heather Stimmel Heather Stimmel on Aug 17, 2014
    The "new" shelf is absolutely beautiful! I love it! Do you have to spray sealant on shelf after completion, to ensure it's waterproof? Great job:)

  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Aug 17, 2014
    @Heather Stimmel thank you for your kind words. I used a few coats of polyurethane which has rendered it water proof. It was an incredibly easy project. I have several more of these book shelves in the basement and my be doing a few more this winter.

    • See 1 previous
    • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Aug 19, 2014
      @Heather Stimmel stain comes in many colours now. I think if you want to attain the textured look you need to stick to a stain that you would use on wood. Just apply as many coats as you need to get the depth of colour you want. In this case I applied 3 coats, but a coffee table I did in sedona red I had to apply about 7 coats in order to get colour I wanted.