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before and after

before & after: wall cabinet + stacked-crate bookshelf

by Kate Pruitt


I love hanging cabinets and shelving units because of their dual functionality as wall art and storage. You can tell from a mere glance that this shelf has potential, and its owner Tiffin has capitalized on the modular aspect of the piece to transform it into a cheerful, graphic display unit for her milk-glass collection. The white milk-glass looks wonderful among the bright white shelves, and the mix of prints is lovely. Great work, Tiffin! — Kate

Time: 5 hours (including drying time)

Cost: $55 (including shelf and supplies)

Basic Steps: Prep your piece by stripping or sanding any of the old finishes (I got lucky that my wood was completely void of paint or stain). Use a cloth to wipe away any excess dirt or dust after sanding. Then apply one to two coats of primer, and follow up with one to two coats of your top color. I used a semigloss for this piece to match the rest of the trim in my room.

Hang the shelf on the wall by screwing it directly into your wall studs. We used all four of the studs that the shelf hangs over just to ensure there would be no accidents! Find an assortment of fabrics that complement your room. Then measure each nook and cut out the fabric panels to fit accordingly.

To attach the panels, take a panel outside one at a time and spray the back side with super 77 spray glue. Then adhere it to the back of the shelf by starting at the corner and carefully pressing it into place along the top edge of the nook. From there, you can smooth the fabric out from top to bottom. If the fabric was cut too large, you can use an X-Acto blade to trim it down. Don’t worry if your fabric is a bit crooked or does not cover the back side completely. Once you place items on your shelf, this will be unnoticeable.

Tips: Use a mini roller to apply paint. This makes the project go much faster, plus you get more consistent paint coverage. Also, when screwing a large wooden piece on the wall, take a moment and assess how the piece was made. Often the back board is flimsy plywood, and you would not want this carrying the weight burden. In my case, the top bar of the shelf (behind the tulips) was a solid 1×4 and was a perfect place to put the screws. I found it easier to adhere the fabric panels once the shelf was already hanging, but this could be done just as easily beforehand. — Tiffin

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

CLICK HERE to see Melissa’s stacked-crate bookshelf corner after the jump!

My book collection is a little out of control, and I’m afraid my storage needs are getting to the point where any kind of creative shelving would be out of the question. If I do weed out my books eventually, I’m tempted to create a cool shelving stack like this one by Melissa. I really appreciate that she turned some of the crates to give the piece more dimensionality and utilized its position in an awkward corner of the room. Clever work, Melissa!

Time: 5–6 hours

Cost: $70 ($50 for all the boxes, $20 for supplies)

Basic Steps: I wanted the boxes to blend in with the wall somewhat and not stand out as raw wood, so I purchased an off-white color (“vanilla”) and watered it down for a white-wash effect. Then I picked out a mossy green for the inside bottom of the box as contrast. Remember that the wine boxes are not finished wood, so some of the paint will be absorbed. For indoor use, it doesn’t necessarily need a finish, but it definitely would for anything outdoor.

I played with stacking them up the wall to get the look I wanted then drilled holes in the back of the boxes so I could anchor them into the wall. Being in an apartment and in a weirdly shaped corner, studs were lacking, so I used wall anchors and screwed the boxes into those. I wanted my base box to be off the floor, so I sawed 4″ sections from the stump of my old Christmas tree and screwed those into the bottom box for feet. A good friend made the bottom box for me out of plywood since I wanted it larger than the rest and wide/deep enough to fit my larger books.

Lay your boxes out (by stacking the boxes) up the wall in different arrangements until you get it the way you want it. And if you can afford to get extra boxes of various sizes, it gives you some more options; you can use the extra boxes for a multitude of other projects anyway! — Melissa

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