When I write a post and do a project I like to share what I’ve done in the hopes of empowering or inspiring others to try a similar project. Or to look at things differently and try to create something that’s purposeful and/or meaningful. Hopefully you’ll see that in this project. You may not need or want to do this exact DIY, but I hope you find something in this post that will inspire you to try something similar for more unique and meaningful results.
My dilemma was that we needed a bookcase. Our books seem to be multiplying – which is a good thing. But we were running out of space for them and they were getting tucked way, lost, or overlooked. I needed a bookcase that didn’t take up too much room, could still hold a decent amount of books, didn’t cost a lot, and would work in my current office space. whew. It was hard to find.
I saw this rolling wire cart/bookshelf at HomeGoods and I just loved the look and size of it. The wheels and white metal made it somewhat industrial looking. But it was a little too small and the shelves were wire which would make it difficult for holding books. But I loved the potential – and the price – so I wanted to make it work. I really just needed to have bigger, more solid shelf bases. Since this piece is open, I figured I could add wood shelves that would extend beyond the width of the bookcase. And distressed wood planks would be the perfect compliment to this simple, sleek structure. Plus it would look cool. So I guess that’s my lengthy post description. See the potential in something, make it better and more unique (and even cheaper!) than any store-bought piece. And I’ll show you how I distress new wood to add character and style too.
I measured my bookshelf and bought a piece of common board at Home Depot that was 10″wide x 1″thick and 10′ long. I had the store cut it into 3 pieces – each 40″ long – which was 10″ longer than the width of the shelves. So these pieces of wood would extend about 5″ beyond the bookcase and give it a more unique, handmade look – and more space for books! Now I needed to distress these wood planks.
Distressing wood is a technique to make it look old or weathered – like the wood has been laying around in a barn for 20 years. There are lot of ways to achieve a distressed look. Some go for a faint weathered look, or a uneven natural stained result. But I love wood that looks like it’s been painted 4 or 5 times with different colored paints – most of which have been worn away, thrown off the side of a truck, and buried under a pile of dirt for several years. ok, so maybe I wouldn’t really want that wood but I do like the idea of what that would look like. So I tried to recreate a nicer version of this type of distressed wood.
Here’s my very simple technique for distressing wood planks:
First, I paint the bare wood a dark color. For these shelves, I painted them black and I didn’t cover the entire wood, just patches.
Next, I take a hammer and take out all my frustrations on the wood. Some days I have more frustrations than others. I use the back of the hammer for the best effect. I actually ripped off an edge of one of the pieces of wood but that only added to the character. I guess this was one of my more frustrating days.
After the wood attacks, I sand the entire wood with an electric hand sander. I take some of the paint on this step but don’t worry we’ll be adding more. I also sand the edges down a lot so they’re more rounded and worn.
Next, I add 2 coats of different color paints. Again, I don’t paint the entire wood – just patches. I used a light gray and a jade green for these 2 colors.
After the paint has dried, I sand it again, removing more of the paint and making it look more worn. Be sure to sand the edges and sides of the wood on this step too. And you can always add more paint if you ever sand too much down.
Once I get the wood to the look I like, I add an oil-based, pecan colored stain to the entire wood to give it a slightly darker or dirtier finish. I hate the clean up that comes with oil based paints and stains so I used an old rag to rub the stain on, throwing the rag away when I’m done.
Let the stain dry and you’ve got some great distressed wood planks that look like they’ve been through years of weathering – but they’re new so they’ll hold up well.
To complete my bookcase, I just placed the wood planks on top of each wire shelf and now I have a completely new piece!
As you can see these longer shelves allow me more space to add additional books and they add a little more personality to the original piece too!
Check out my tassel banner – it’s super easy and inexpensive to make. And I think it adds a fun vibe to this piece. Click here to see my post on DIY tassels.
I hope you find some inspiration to make your own purposeful & meaningful creations. And click here to check out more DIY bookshelf ideas for your home from Top Reveal.