Bookshelf Makeover

What do you do when you have screaming and overly tired little ones crawling all over you?  All night?  It was an epic snowball effect, and I’m pretty sure I just got frost bite on my face from the final impact.  It’s about 1130, and my eyes are heavy, but I am determined to get some peace and quiet to myself.  It’s been quite the day.  Yes, blogging falls in this category.  This, along with the gym, helps me to let go.  Unfortunately, the gym is closed and my quick home workout didn’t pan out. 

Bookshelf redo

Thinking back 6 hours ago, I had no plans of rearranging furniture, let alone upholstering a book shelf.  I just wanted to survive the day and not have another yesterday.  Too bad, today was worse but I survived.  Officially, now that Little A is asleep right next to me on the couch.

School is going to start for me soon, and I know I need to get organized.  I worked on my desk today, and because I worked on my desk I needed to clear it and find a new home for my brand new printer.  One thing led to another and I was moving furniture pieces around.  I took one look at a particular book shelf and thought “I need to bring some color and life to this thing.”

That’s exactly what I did.  

I was in such a hurry, with all of my tools and fabric and fulfilling the little ones’ needs, that I was not able to take pictures in between to document.  But don’t worry, this is super easy.

This book shelf is similar to ones you can buy at a box store like Walmart or Target.  It comes in a box, and you take it out and put the pieces together with little to no effort and/or tools.  The back of this book shelf is no more than an extremely thin piece of pressed cardboard.  Really.  It’s nailed to the wood with what I think are panel nails.

What you do is lay the bookshelf on it’s face and take the panel off.  It’s flimsy as heck.  Be careful and try not to rip the panel.  I realized that with gentle hands, you can pretty much avoid any ripping or tearing.  I went at it with a hammer to try and detach the nails, but a simple butter knife does a way better job.  Some of your nails may come out with the panel, some will leave a hole.  You win some, you lose some.  Continue to work your way around, loosening the edges and removing as many nails as you can.

Once removed, lay your cut fabric down on the floor and smooth it all out.  Place the panel on top of the fabric so that whatever the fabric is touching on the down side is what will show when it’s all put together.  (ie, if you’re using a patterned fabric with smiley faces, make sure you check before you place the panel down on top so it doesn’t come out upside down.)

This is the tricky part.  Take the fabric and panel altogether and place it back onto the back of the shelf, lining up the edges of the panel with the back of the book shelf.  It may sag in the middle.  It is important to know that most of these kinds of bookshelves have back panels that aren’t the exact size as the bookshelf.  So you will need to leave some room around the edges to ensure that each side as a comfortable amount of space to be nailed or stapled back on.

With that one edge that you’re working with, it’s time to re-attach the panel.  Find the middle of that first edge; Fold the fabric over the edge and back on itself, (like you’re folding a washcloth in half) and hold the fabric and the panel firmly.  Put a few more staples on either side of the half mark to secure the flimsy panel

For the other edges, you want to give a firm tug and start in the middle.  Make sure not to pull too tightly.  For corners, I make hospital corners (see pic below) and staple them down. 

One mistake I made with this is adding thin batting.  I thought it might make the flimsiness go away.  I’m not sure that it did, but it certainly caused problems when I was using the staple gun to secure the fabric to the panel.  I didn’t figure this out until I righted the book shelf and the panel was half-falling off.  I had to go back into the garage and dig up some spare panel nails, and use those to secure the fabric. 
Phew!  Job was done.  I admired it for a whole 5 minutes, then shoved the book shelf into the corner near my desk so that my printer and charging station could have a new home.

I’m sure later on down the road if you decide you don’t like the fabric, you can get a more sturdy sheet of wood (maybe peg board?) and redo this project.  Fabric comes and goes, and your style may change over the years.  You don’t have to throw out that plain cheap-looking shelf.  The possibilities are endless.

I hope you’re inspired.  I’m going to bed, I’m tired.

Hospital Corners


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