before & after: liz’s table + solanah’s shelf

i really enjoy when people incorporate sayings, poetry, and quotations from literature and film into their homes. i’ve had a special poetry project i’ve wanted to work on framing for a while (this poem, handwritten by someone i love), so when i saw this makeover involving poetry i was instantly intrigued. liz from sticks and bricks made over a pine coffee table by hammering (!) in the letters of mary oliver’s poem, “a summer day“. liz says it took forever to hammer in, but was well worth it in the end. i can only imagine how nice that is to look down every day and see words that you love. great work, liz!

[have a before & after you’d like to share? just shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)]

CLICK HERE for solanah’s shelf makeover after the jump!

this small spice rack makeover comes from solanah at vixen vintage. i love the way she used paint to completely change the look of this rack. the hand-painted sign really transforms the rack from a sort of country-cozy-traditional look to something lighter and more feminine to match solanah’s kitchen. thanks for sharing, solanah!


i LOVE this desk and the poem and everything about it. What an awesome idea!


Okay, I MUST know what tools she used to hammer the letters into the table. I’m completely inspired and have no idea how to do this!


that table is unbelievably beautiful.. what a great idea and an amazing transformation!


What an amazing idea! I’m not exactly sure what the hammering process is…I’d love a little more explanation on that!

I’m not usually a fan of green…but the green used on the shelf change is speaking to me.


that is so cool! how do you hammer letters into wood?


Ditto! I want to learn how to hammer letters too!


I am floored by this coffee table! I want to hammer poems into everything!! Hmmm….might be getting a de-poeming bill from the landlord when I move out….worth it! ;]


I am using a similar set of punches to personalize a custom built cutting board with a friend’s wedding date. I can imagine how long it took to do the letters, certainly an exercise in patience.


the poem link looks incorrect, it looks lovely, I’d love to read it!


oops sorry! the link works fine and it’s a lovely poem!


That is my favorite poem ever. I think I might have to copy this project!


As a lover of literature and a former English major, I am swooning over the poem. Now I am desperate to hammer poetry into something.
How is that done, though? What tools do you use?


thanks guys! i used a letter stamping set (bought at harbor freight- $3.99!!) to hammer the letters in, and this poem took me around 3 hours (!)
glad i’m not the only one who thinks it was worth it ;)


I too love the poem desk – how did you make the letters turn black after hammering – is it oiled?


amazing table, liz! was it by design that ‘precious’ wraps around that random nail hole, or was it a happy accident? :)


I’m with everyone else, I want to know how she did that to the table!!! This would make an incredible DIY feature.

Love the new color on the spice shelf!


I love this. Its beautiful and I loved this poem. I always have trouble knowing how best to incorporate words into our decor. Thanks for sharing Liz!


This is great! I love that it is a poem that someone close to you has written. You’ll have this for years to come and can pass it on to your children – indeed precious!


That table is soooo cool! The spice rack is adorable adorable as well. Good job, guys!


I can’t stand it, that coffee table is so beautiful. I, too, was wondering about the finish. Oil? It doesn’t look varnished.

Jayne Bramley

Love this poem and I love the finished result on the table, so very creative and inspiring. Thank you for sharing this wonderful project :)


LOVE that poem. great idea. i would love to get the last line as a tattoo.


wow! so amazing~!!
i wanna crave some chinese characters on my desks too!!
it’ll encourage me a lot!


LOVE the coffee table, the poem is lovely. What a perfect daily reminder… what is it you plan to do, with your one wild and precious life? So many things.


the way the letters in precious go over the hole in the wood makes my heart skip a beat. IT IS PERFECT!


all time favorite before & after. that table is just the loveliest.

Alex Louisa

Liz your coffee table could not possibly have turned out any better! I have a pine table of my mothers that I’ve been considering doing a similar thing to. Hopefully it turns out as well as yours!!

I kind of love when something is a little on the tedious/intricate side. and takes ages to complete. It makes the end product so much more rewarding :)


Yes, yes, yes, the table is amazing/lovely/mindblowing/inspiring, but what is going on with the painted floor? I want to see more!

sarah elisa

gorgeous.. love the stamped effect. I immediately went out and searched for letters. so nice!


Love that green shelf! I just painted one in a very similar color for my own kitchen, inspired by this one, but couldn’t manage any fancy hand-painting like Solanah.

Debbie@ Vintage Scout Interiors

WOW! That table is great- what a wonderful idea! I am re-doing a desk for my son’s apartment and I think I will put an inspiriring quote for him either on top or inside the top drawer so he sees it everyday. I am always thankful when people like you share their creativity!


I LOVE the idea of hammering a special poem or quote into a piece of furniture or art. I would also love to know what tools were used to do that so I can get in on a little DIY action! Thanks!!

Sonja thomas

The coffee table with poem is wonderful. I’d love to know how the letters were hammered into the wood also.


thank you thank you thank you! this is how i did the finish… sanded the old poly down, hammered the letters, painted small sections black & wiped off with a damp cloth after a minute or so. then i coated the entire table with finishing wax.


Love this desk! I’m using the last 2 lines of the poem for a letterpress card as a favor at an upcoming party.


Praying, by Mary Oliver

It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.


The hammered letters are a great idea! I’d love to use part of “Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore” by Elizabeth Bishop on a bookshelf.


That table is amazing! I love it when words and quotes are used in decorating.

If/when I have my own house someday, I want to paint Bilbo’s Bath Song on the bathroom wall…


lovely work. i love it, when designers use type in a clever way. greetings from soccer-sunny-south-africa


love your table – very inspiring. What size are the letters? I went to harbour freight but didn’t know what size to buy. Thank you!


oh my gosh, I thought to myself, someday I would like to do that – with that exact poem, before I read what you had hammered in.