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Pallet Backed Bookshelf

There are a ton of great tutorials out there on how to take an old piece of furniture and redo it into a masterpiece. But what about a crappy piece of furniture that has already been given a really bad paint job? I had a bookshelf that was given to me by a friend when she moved. It had great lines and I wasn’t too picky because I needed a bookshelf at the time.

But now I have the bug to change things up in my house  and I really loved the lines of my bookcase. The problem – it was really tipsy and the paint job was pretty bad. Here is what I mean -it couldn’t even stand up straight.

It was a laminate bookshelf that had been painted without priming. Parts of it were peeling and when I took the back off there were pools of dried paint sticking out. I used a razor blade to scrape the paint off that had pooled. You can see how beat up the paint was:

Not pretty!  I knew we couldn’t strip the whole bookshelf of the paint without ruining it. I did the best I could to scrape the peeling parts off and smooth it out. Then I gave the whole bookshelf and the shelves a new coat of Heirloom White to made it look even. This probably wouldn’t work on something other than a bookshelf but since there are so many things that go on a bookshelf it disguises the imperfections of the paint.

Next I had my hubby round up some old broken pallets. (A quick note on pallets – they are all the rage right now in decorating but please be very careful when finding and taking them. Most construction suppliers give a refund for returning pallets, so if you just take them off of an active construction site you could be taking money away from that contractor or builder. If they are broken and abandoned by all means recycle them, just be careful of active construction sites.)

When we found enough pallets we pulled them apart and then I measured them to fit the back of the bookshelf. I marked them and my hubby cut them to size. I washed the cut boards really good and left them out to dry for a couple of hours. Next I lined them up the way I wanted them to go on the back. I made sure that the different colors of the wood were mixed up as well as making sure the screw holes didn’t match up. Then I was ready to nail the boards in.

I laid two or 3 blankets down onto our garage floor and then we gently laid the bookshelf down on the blankets. I wanted to make sure that the bookshelf was padded when I hammered the planks in. I didn’t want the paint to get dinged up. Then I arranged my planks onto the bookshelf in the order I wanted them and double checked that everything lined up correctly.

One bad thing about working with pallets, especially old ones, is that the wood splits really easily. To make sure they didn’t split I used a really small drill bit and drilled a hole where I wanted the nail to go in.

This was also really helpful in making sure the nail went in straight and that it didn’t go through either sides of the bookshelf. It only took me about 20 minutes to get them all nailed in.

All that was left was to put the bookshelf in place and add my things back onto the shelves!

I am super happy with it! I still need to stain the little basket to match my bigger basket. The whole project cost me $4 for the spray paint! It was pretty fast too. We started at 8:00 on Saturday morning and I was putting everything back on it by 2:00 that afternoon!

It makes the biggest difference and doesn’t look like a crappy old bookshelf anymore 🙂

A few tips for staging bookshelves:

  1. Take the sleeves off of books! This makes the biggest difference! It looks so much cleaner and classier!
  2. Arrange books by size or color. It helps to form groups for arranging.
  3. Use items that are meaningful! You can create a beautiful bookshelf with cute matching things but its even better if you can find things that mean something to you. On my top shelf I used a picture of tulips from the fields where John and I went on one of our first dates. I also used a stack of old family bibles my Mom had collected. The round ball as well as the caribou statue were both things John brought home from his time in the Philippines. I bought the green box to hold the programs at my Moms funeral and it holds special notes she wrote to me inside. All of the items on our shelf mean something to us!
  4. Use decorative baskets and boxes to hold books or items that are not as attractive.

There you go! An easy and cheap solution to dressing up your home!

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Lisa

Previous author of Over the Big Moon. I shared my passion for home and family life! I love graphic design, DIY projects, cooking, and working in my garden! My favorite role is taking care of my husband and our 3 amazing and busy boys!

Comments (26)

  • comment_avatar

    Jacque @ theDIYvillage

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    This is fabulous!!!! Great job 🙂

    Reply

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    Erin Colburn

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    Love the look of this shelf! One question, though. How much can you see the pallets from the side? I am looking to do this, but I am worried about it looking funny from the side.

    Reply

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    Heidi (LoeLaLoep)

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    Hello Lisa,
    just want to say that I looooove your bookshelf. So much, that my daughter and I decided to make our own. Ofcourse I linked back to you in my blog 😉 Thanks for sharing this awesome idea!
    Heidi & Cindy

    Reply

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    Rachael

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    I copied you because you are a genius. Your bookcase is on my blog, thought I’d let you know. 🙂

    Reply

  • comment_avatar

    Samm Spangler

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    Ok I love love love this!!! Super cute! Great idea! I pinned it so I can try it on a future project!

    Your newest follower,
    Samm @ LittleHouseintheBigD

    Reply

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    Tonia @TheGunnySack

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    Love this idea so much that I am featuring it today!
    ~Tonia @TheGunnySack

    Reply

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    Six Sisters Stuff

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    HOW CUTE! I love anything pallet right now! And I just wanted to thank you for linking up each week to Six Sister’s Stuff! Hope to see you back next Saturday!
    -The Sisters

    Reply

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    Natalie Z

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    I love to give furniture a 2nd life. I especially like the rustic look that the pallet adds. Great Job!

    Reply

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    Jen

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    Wow, your feet must be really sore from all the happy dancing you’ve been doing! What a gorgeous upgrade! I’d be thrilled if you’d come and share this (and any other projects you might like to show off) at the Head to Head Showdown link party! It’s all happening right now at http://www.icantstopcrafting.blogspot.com ~Jen

    Reply

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    Rachael

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    That looks so good! What a fantastic idea, really nice work. And inexpensive too!

    Reply

  • comment_avatar

    Mary Kathryn

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    Jealous! But you already know that. 🙂

    Reply

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