Cabinet to Bookshelf Transformation: Before and After

bookshelf before and after

Ever since we found out we will be having another baby in April, I’ve been making small changes to our guest room with the intentions of turning it into a “big girl room” for my 1.5 year old. This past weekend, I finally got to work on a little cabinet that I wanted to transform.

Once upon a time, I got this guy at a garage sale for $15.00. I liked him but just not for a toddler’s room.

I wanted to turn it into a bedside stand that could hold books and other bedtime items.  To do this, I started by removing the doors on the front. All it took to do this was a little hand drill.

The drill I use for projects like this and many others is my Black & Decker Pivot-Driver. I LOVE this little tool. I don’t have to get out the big ‘ol hand drill to do a simple job like this. It’s light weight and easy to grab at any time.

Just wanted to give one of my favorite little tools a shout-out around the Christmas season. It could be a great gift idea. In fact, I just added it to our 2012 Gift Guide.

OK, back to the transformation…

Since I removed the doors to the cabinet, there were little holes that needed some attention.

I filled them in with a little Fast ‘N Final spackling and made sure to smooth the edges down after it dried.

It worked great!

After the spackling had dried, I gave my new bookshelf a layer of spray primer. I almost always use Kilz Spray Primer. It goes on great, dries fast, and requires next to zero clean up. I didn’t bother priming the back of the bookshelf since I had plans to give it a fabric background later.

After the primer had dried, I gave the bookshelf  two coats of a white paint that I had used for a previous project.

My next step was to give this guy a little color in the background. I have never mod podged fabric to furniture before but have seen lots of projects where people have done it. I thought I would give it a try!

I measured how big each opening was and cut out fabric to fit in it.

This task proved to take twice as long since I had a toddler who was loving having mommy on the floor playing with fun fabrics and measuring tools.

Anyway, after I got my fabric measured out and in place, I started by mod podging the corners of it it to the back of the cabinet and let it dry a little. This helped it stay in place when I started to put mod podge on the rest of the fabric. I learned quickly that in order for the mod podge to soak through enough to adhere to the wood, it took a lot! I also found that it worked best to start from the middle and work your way out.

Mod podging fabric proved to be a little more difficult than I anticipated. It made the fabric stretch in ways I didn’t want it to and ended up making my measurements look a little uneven. If you are a perfectionist, I would suggest using paper instead of fabric.

Here is the fabric after it had dried (a few hours later). Like I said, it’s not perfect but I’m doubting my toddler is going to care too much about that 🙂

After letting the paint really get dry for a day or two, I filled in the shelf with some books and toys.

Once those were added, the imperfections of the mod podged fabric became pretty much unnoticeable-wahoo!

My little lady has thoroughly enjoyed having easy access to her books and toys on her new bookshelf.

bookshelf before and after

I haven’t thrown away the cabinet doors yet. I’m still waiting for some type of inspiration of something to do with them. Any ideas??

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  1. Pingback: Repurposed Cabinet Door Idea - Thriving Home

  2. Kelly says

    This looks great Polly! Was just going to mention that depending on how your cabinet is made (couldn’t tell what the back looked like) an easier way to do the fabric background is to pop the back panel off of the bookcase/cabinet. If its good solid wood construction, can’t always do this…but I had one that was fiberboard on the back and easy to pop off (using a mini crow bar to pry it off gently) so I was able to wrap the entire back in the fabric and then nail it back on. A little tricky to get the fabric pulled tight enough not to have wrinkles but mostly it provides a neater finished look. I painted mine pink including the back panel, then wrapped the back in a large weave burlap so you could see the pink through the weave. Love the polka dots on yours! Thanks so much for this blog.

    • polly says

      Such a good idea!!
      This one had a pretty solid background so that wouldn’t have worked but that is a really good tip for any future makeovers. If you have a picture of your cabinet, I’d love to see it. Thanks!