Saturday, November 22, 2014

Old Shelves Get A New Life

Technically speaking, this is the longest DIY project I've ever done! Thanks to my busy schedule and bad habits (procrastination), this furniture makeover extended over several months. But I'm happy to say I finally f***king finished it!

These tired, blue shelves were picked up by my mom at a garage sale. I'm pretty sure garage sale-ing, if that's a word, is her favorite hobby. But she definitely sees potential in things I would never give a second glance.

When she brought me these shelves, I felt I was going to do just as great of a DIY job as the last person had. They clearly made an attempt at it! They used primer over the original laminate, but probably too much. Then they spray painted layers upon layers and possibly didn't let things dry properly. See the white spots? They were everywhere. Maybe they only sprayed it from one angle. This shotty work made for a long process of undoing!

Luckily, my boyfriend is a contractor with a van full of handy tools! I borrowed everything I could:
  • heat gun
  • palm sander
  • sandpaper
  • latex paint
  • workbench/sawhorses
  • primer
  • drill
  • metal scraper tool
  • scrap lumber
  • spray paint (this is the only thing I had to purchase)
  • paint brushes

To get started, I set up two sawhorses and a sheet of plywood. There were several hours of standing, and doing this project hunched over on the ground would not be good for my back! After taking apart the shelves, I went about figuring out the best way to remove the paint. It was so thick, the paint thinner just wasn't cutting it. Sanding was also taking waaaaaay too long. So I went with the heat gun.

If you've never worked with a heat gun, be careful! These things are extremely hot. Be mindful of where you set it down while moving things around or giving your hands a rest. The heat coming off of it was a bit of torture when I was working on this during the summer and already sweating!

Once the heat gets going though, it really works quickly. It helps to loosen up the paint then you can use the scraper tool to scrape it off. Getting the base primer and whatever else was underneath was a bit tougher. So after getting the largest amount peeled away with the heat gun, I switched to the palm sander.

Working with sanders, you'll want to start at your heaviest grain and work down to a fine grain. That will allow the surface to become nice and smooth. I wasn't going for perfection in this project because I knew I was going to paint with a brush.

The toughest part of this project was trying to work on the spindles. With all of the details, it made it difficult to get into every nook and cranny. Sanding the curves and divots definitely took the longest. I had my boyfriend drill holes in some extra lumber while I screwed in each spindle (they had screws in them for putting the shelf together and I left them in). It was much easier to paint them this way.

Once I was happy with the removal of old paint, etc, I added my own primer. Then I used some latex house paint to paint everything white. Once dried, I sprayed the spindles with Rustoleum Painter's Touch Key Lime. (This stuff is awesome because it's a coat of primer + 2 coats of paint in each coat!)

Here's a tip: If you don't have a rubber band, use masking tape, folded and taped over the top of your paint can. It's helpful for scraping off excess paint and also gives you a place to rest your brush without making a big mess!

This is where the procrastination kicks in. Summer quickly went away while all of the pieces were drying in the greenhouse. And then the weather was rainy and nasty, I just left them in there. Soon our temps dropped down to the 30s and I thought, "there's no way I'm going to stand out there and paint!". So I moved the project into my craft room and finished painting the shelves.

I'm very happy with the final look of these shelves. They definitely look happier than the drab blue. And it goes well with my new craftroom makeover (which I will share in another post).

What do you think? Have you done any furniture rehab projects lately?

(I apologize for the poor pictures. My craft room light is horrible right now! It's one of many things I haven't gotten around to fixing.)


  1. Wow, the shelf makeover looks great! The duo color makes it more interesting than the solid blue.

    You had posted a comment on my blog about nail stamping. It's pretty easy. I watched a few YouTube tutorials and I was good to go. This was also a good resource to me, Good luck!

    1. Hi Tina, thanks for stopping by and thank you for the link. I'll check it out!


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