Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Elbow Grease and Paint Pants: Shelf Transformations

I've been up to my eyeballs in paint these last two weeks--busy, busy, busy.
For the first installment of this series and the explanation of my impulsive purchase of fourteen pieces of furniture, click here.

One of the random lots I bid on had these two shelves

along with a hutch top (future post for that one).  All three pieces were only $27.50, before buyer's fees and tax.  I had no idea what to do with these two shelves--especially the top one with a piece missing from the back.

After lightly sanding both down, and following the advice of my friend Kelly (from My Dear Trash), I purchased this sprayer from Lowe's and decided to learn how to use it.  Kelly came and personally gave me a tutorial, as did my bestie Karen when I was struggling with compressor settings.  It was a learning curve, to say the least, but I finally had both of the shelves sanded and primed.  Whew.

That stage really discouraged me.  I was sick of it, worn out, and it had taken me over three times as long as I had planned to get the pieces primed and ready.  In hindsight, I must admit that that day of learning how to use the sprayer was worth it.  Totally worth it.  Glad I did it.

When I got back to this project, I was horrified to see this:
It may not look like that big of a deal, but these shelves are pine, and pine will bleed through.  I was mad, so I altered my original plan of solid white and decided to use four cans of heirloom white (cream) spray paint I already had in the garage and then sand the shelves down to hide the bleeding.

After six cans of spray paint, one layer of dark wax, and a final sanding/distressing, the shelves were done.  I had a few extra yards of fabric waiting for this project, so I decided to cover the backs with coordinating fabric--to hide the missing/damaged places and to add a little pizzazz.
I cut the fabric even with the back (since the shelf itself would hide the seams), stapled it to the board, then nailed it to the back of the shelves.

Here are the final results:
 pardon the dark spots from my camera--forgot to dust it after sanding!

The best part of this project?  I listed the shelves on Craigslist for $65 each, and within three hours, the damask-backed shelf sold for full price.  Elephant shelf is still waiting for a new home.

Lessons learned from the cream shelves: 
  •  Pine bleeds.  And that's annoying.
  • Kelly's advice:  turn furniture upside down and paint the underside first.  This is good advice. Try it and you'll see why.
  • Spray paint is way more expensive than regular paint.  I ended up using six cans (at $4 a can) to do the shelves.  It only took a quarter of a gallon of primer to prime the shelves using the sprayer.  Lesson learned. And always find a friend who knows more than you to bail you out of a tough spot with newfangled equipment.
  • Projects don't always turn out (or rarely turn out) the way you plan.  Be flexible.  I had originally planned on solid white with no distressing, but in the end, this worked too.
  • Even though the pine bled through the primer, it didn't bleed through the paint.  Hmmmm.  Curious.
 Two down.  Twelve to go.  It's going to be a while until the Suburban gets back in the garage, I'm afraid.

Until next week--
Going once, going twice, SOLD!

Linking up to Take a look Tuesday and Tuesday's Treasures at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia


  1. I know how much work this is Jen. It turned out great, and now that you're a spray painter extraordinaire, the next 400 pieces you bought will be done in a snap : )

  2. Thanks for the advice. I have a couple of old pieces of furniture that need some updating! Love the yellow!

  3. They turned out great. Love the yellow fabric behind them. If it involves that much work, I usually avoid it. haahhahaha But hey, if you're gonna turn a nice profit, well then....may be worth it. I had a realllly nice paint sprayer for almost a year and never once used it out of fear. Silly. And finally, I'm so surprised it took you that many cans of spray paint. It only took me 2 1/2 cans to paint my entire red kitchen table. And 2 cans to do one of my dressers.

  4. Love them! Is this a new career to support your auction addiction? I love the fabric on the one that sold, and the other one looks like it would be perfect for your little boys room or a play room! Congrats on adding another talent to your arsenal!!

  5. Thank you for the advice! It will come in handy when I get to work on the few pieces I have waiting to be made pretty again!

  6. wow, i'm so impressed with your work, these turned out GREAT!! ... and i didn't realize you were flipping the pieces for profit - clever girl!!

  7. I really like that fabric you tacked on in the back. So cheerful and happy!

  8. Awesome job on the shelves! So glad you were happy with it and made some money at the same time! Bonus!!

  9. Those are both BEAUTIFUL!!!!!! SERIOUSLY.

    I've got my paint pants on today, but it's to paint walls, not furniture.

    So tired.

  10. love that damask print!! Perfect for those shelves!

    I've been painting some furniture lately too. . .had to strip something--yuck!

    Its always fun to learn something new!

  11. ok these are totally awesome! wicked impressed! :)

  12. Oh Jen, you've got a bad, bad case or auctionitis and there is NO KNOWN cure. Only time.
    And there will be relapses.
    I know.
    Be warned.

  13. That sounds like fun...work but fun!

  14. Nice! I wondered what you were going to do with all of those pieces. Just don't break down your profit by the time you spent. ;). But seriously looks so good.

  15. um, I want the elephant shelves. They are my favorite

  16. These came out great! Would love for you to come share at Feathered Nest Friday sometime!

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