A beautiful bookcase is not essential to a successful homeschool.
But, boy, does it help make the teacher happy!
Homeschooling involves lots of stuff. And corralling all that stuff -- books and papers, visual aids and school supplies, is not easy. Doing so in an attractive way can sometimes seem downright impossible!
Since we began homeschooling I have searched high and low for some kind of cabinet or bookshelf to contain our homeschooling materials. I had to have tall shelves for binders and larger books. And I was persnickety about the overall size as well; couldn't be too wide, couldn't be too tall, so I could fit it in my already-too-small eat-in kitchen where we do most of our homeschooling.
Stackable plastic bins have been sufficing for a couple of years now and though they've served their purpose well, I never, EVER liked them, though I have learned to embrace the homeschool mess and accept that my decorating style is not shabby chic, French provincial, or American country: It's homeschool modern!
But God knew how I wanted a pretty place to put our homeschooling things! And so, long after I'd given up looking for something, my husband spotted THIS in a neighbor's trash.
Yep. In the trash. And while I stared blankly for just a moment thinking only of all the time and labor necessary to transform this piece into something usable in our house, it was my dear husband who immediately piped up and reminded me I had always wanted a bookshelf for my homeschooling duds.
Sometimes a little nudge from a smart man can do much to jog your inspiration. ;)
Aside from a few dents and bangs, especially on one corner, this bookshelf was actually in very good shape. I LOVED the fact it had tall, adjustable shelves. And though it wasn't high quality furniture, it looked nice and was plenty sturdy for what I needed it for. All I had to do then was decide what color I wanted it to be.
I considered light blue and thought about pale yellow, but decided to go with distressed white because, well, I love white furniture. (Check out last summer's kitchen table makeover.) And I'm happy with my choice, though the dear husband caused me some agony by saying one day in passing, "Hmm. Ya should 'a painted it green," only after I was already 98% done with the project. (Sometimes his inspiration-jogging runs on a delay.) Why I had never considered green, I don't really know. I think I might've liked it very much, but oh well. I also love my bookshelf as it is.
I gave it a good cleaning and then a light sanding. Nothing major there. I was just trying to scuff up the surface so the paint would adhere well. I cleaned it again to remove any dust and then it was time for the painting to begin.
With brush paint I would have had a world of options when it came to color and I probably could have saved some money as well. Some day I may invest in a sprayer, but until then I prefer using canned spray paint for these projects when at all possible. It just makes the whole painting process much faster and easier than brush painting, not to mention the time and trouble it saves on cleanup.
When the painting was complete, I had a gorgeous white bookshelf and I loved it, but it needed....something. Now I love that pop of color when people paint the interior of a bookshelf a contrasting hue, but here's where I got the idea to add a print to the interior instead. You can do this with fabric or wrapping paper, even maps or old newspapers!
I decided to go check out the choices at the scrapbook paper section of Hobby Lobby, my favorite store in all the world.
Talk about sensory overload! Oh, how I love this place...
I walked around with a stack of plaids and paisleys and toiles before finally deciding on this weathered stripe.
I loved the colors, and though perfection isn't necessary in a mostly hidden portion of a bookshelf, I also knew straight lines would be easy to match up. (If you're a perfectionist, prints that don't match up perfectly might drive you crazy. Keep that in mind if you decide to try this project on your own. You might feel safer going with a stripe, plaid, or very simple print.)
This bookshelf was easy to work with because I could remove the shelving completely, but I still had to measure and cut pieces to fit the sides and to match up perfectly in the back.
|A paper trimmer is one of my most valuable homeschooling supplies. It made this part of the project a breeze.|
Now here's where I pulled out the Mod Podge. Using a foam brush I coated the back of the scrapbook paper with a thin layer of the Mod Podge.
I had to work quickly because it begins to dry immediately and the tackier it is, the harder it is to place it. Once a coat was applied, I quickly and carefully put it in place, smoothing it flat and pressing out air bubbles with a straight edge. (In this case, with a Dr. Seuss book, which just happened to be the perfect size.) I had to be careful it was exactly where I wanted it because once it's in place, moving it is hard, if not impossible!
I continued adding the paper, overlapping the pieces just slightly to help hide the edges. I liked working with the scrapbook paper because the pieces are relatively small and I could work in sections. It slowly began taking shape...
Once the entire inside was covered in paper, I used a wider brush to coat it with a couple more layers of Mod Podge as a protective seal. When I was finished, this is what it looked like:
So technically, except for putting the shelves back in, I was done. But I had never done the distressing!
This is always my favorite part. I just took a sanding block and went to work scuffing things up here and there, especially around the edges. Usually I distress more than I did here, but I decided I wanted this piece just lightly distressed. No doubt it will get lots more natural distressing with time.
While I usually add a polyurethane top coat to protect my finish, I really didn't think it was necessary this time around. I figured more dents and bangs would likely only add to its character!
So here was my finished product:
Though we haven't started school just yet, I've already put my bookshelf to use. I'm delighted to have gone from this:
...Though, honestly, my bookshelf doesn't look nearly as amazing in my pictures as it does in my kitchen!
This was really a fairly easy project and very inexpensive, especially considering I got my bookshelf for FREE! I already had the Mod Podge on hand, so my only real expenses were for spray paint and scrapbook paper. Altogether, I did this for about $20. I LOVE my new bookshelf and I can't hardly wait to start school and use it on a regular basis.
This wasn't my first time trash-picking, by the way. Sometimes you can find some pretty amazing things in the garbage. You never know the potential in something old and forgotten until you look for it. And you never, ever know what blessings might be lying in a pile of trash!
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