Cheap Craft Projects! Bookshelf Makeover


I found this little white bookshelf on Craigslist for $8 (talked her down to $5)! it was the perfect size to fit into an empty space in the guest bedroom of our new house, but a little too plain on its own. So, I was off to Walmart to procure some supplies to spruce it up a little!

I’ve seen a lot of projects online where people use scrapbook paper or fabric to cover the inside of bookcases and have always wanted to try that. Usually it is decoupaged, but I don’t really have any experience with the Modge Podge, and I am always looking for an easier way to do any kind of project, as long as it doesn’t affect the results.

I was looking for fabric in a color that would coordinate with the Alabama football theme that Robbie wanted for the new guest room. Even though I’m an Auburn fan, and our house is completely divided, I consented to this because it’s the closest thing he has to a man-cave, and also because his mother is our primary overnight guest, and she is just as big of an Alabama fan as he is.

Trust me, I’m not exactly *thrilled* about having a football-themed room, but I figured if I could take control of the decorating, it will at least turn out tastefully. But I’m also trying to choose things Robbie will like, and things that are neither too masculine- or feminine-looking. It’s so hard trying to make everyone happy, especially when it comes to decorating!

For those of you who are not familiar with SEC football, The University of Alabama’s colors are crimson, white, black, and gray. I found this fabric at Walmart. It has varying shades of gray with a white background. The pattern is a little modern, and sort of trippy. I knew Robbie would approve of that, because for some reason he is drawn to psychedelic fabric patterns that look like an acid trip.

The bookshelf is only about 2′ x 3′, and two fat quarters were all the fabric I needed for the back. (A fat quarter is a pre-cut, pre-packaged 1/4 of a yard.) I considered using fabric glue or hot glue to attach it, but I dislike the messiness of both and was afraid it would be hard to get it straight and flat. So I bought some permanent fabric adhesive tape, which is sold in the sewing supplies section. It comes in a small roll, and there are different brands and sizes. Look for something like this:


I laid out both pieces of fabric flat, with the right side down, and taped along each edge of the wrong side. This tape is used like any double-sided tape you might use for paper crafts, where the tape is covered by a waxy strip that you peel away after laying the tape where you want it. But this stuff is much heavier-duty and thicker. And stickier. It helps to press the tape down firmly on whatever it is being applied to, before peeling away the paper strip. If you don’t, sometimes the sticky part comes back up with the paper strip.

Once I had all my tape pieces applied to the first piece of fabric, I laid the bookshelf down flat on its back. I removed the paper strip from only one edge of the fabric, so I could make sure each edge was centered and the fabric was pulled tight without the rest of it sticking down in the wrong spot.

The fabric was about an inch too short in width to cover the entire back of the bookshelf, so I eyeballed it to make sure it was centered and flush with the top edge of the inside back. After pressing down the one taped edge I had removed the backing from, I repeated this process on the other three edges one at a time, carefully pulling the fabric tight and smoothing it while pressing down on the adhesive strip.

With the other piece of fabric, I did the same thing, only starting from the bottom edge. I really could have measured the empty spot and cut the second piece of fabric to exactly match that space. But that was too much trouble, so I just overlapped it in the middle. Since the fabric has a busy pattern, and there will be shelves (and things on the shelves) in front of it, I didn’t figure it would be that noticeable. I just had to make sure that the pattern matched up in the overlapped area, which wasn’t too hard because it wasn’t that complicated of a pattern.

That was it! Covering only the back and not the sides meant that I didn’t have to worry about where the shelf brackets were. I did that on purpose because I didn’t want to measure and cut holes for them in the side fabric. I think it looks just fine with only the back covered.

After reattaching the shelves, I thought it needed just a little something else, so I decided to do a trim. I purchased a pack of 200 silver thumbtacks and used them to create this faux nail-head trim on the front edges of each shelf, and the top and bottom edges of the bookshelf’s frame.


I just eyeballed the spacing and used a hammer to tap them in securely. So they are not all perfectly spaced or lined up, and the perfectionist and symmetry-lover in me is somewhat bothered by that, but I am trying to accept that it looks pretty good despite not being completely perfect. I think it would also look cool without space in between the “nail heads,” so if you want to eliminate the space in yours and have a more solid-line effect, you will need more than 200 thumbtacks, so purchase the next size up. I didn’t have many left over.

So that was it! And now I have a cute little bookshelf for the guest room! I set those family photos on top just because I didn’t have another place for them, but they may not stay there. And I haven’t really decided if I’ll put books or knick-knacks on it yet. Maybe both. I want to keep it kinda sparsely filled so the fabric still shows.

Thrifted bookshelf from Craigslist: $5.00
2 fat quarters of fabric: $0.97 each
Permanent adhesive fabric tape: $3.97
200 silver thumbtacks: $1.88

Grand total: Approximately $15.00 for a new piece of custom furniture, with only about an hour’s worth of work.

Mimi is coming today for Thanksgiving, so I am super excited that she gets to try out the new guest room for the first time! I think it looks really cozy and cute, and I’ll do another post with more pictures of the other decorations soon.


Crafty Love! India

Last weekend I finally finished unpacking my house and got my craft/sewing room all organized. And I realized that my bedroom is in need of some serious decorating help. It’s pretty much the one room in my house with zero personality because I was more concerned with blocking all light from the windows so I could sleep than making pretty curtains or hanging art or anything. I’ve always wanted to have either a Moroccan- or Indian-themed bedroom — I even have a book on Indian decorating elements. Actually I wouldn’t mind if my whole house was decorated in that fashion. But right now it’s my bedroom that needs it the worst. So I am going to start there. I started looking for things on Etsy, but of course I found other cool things besides just home decor, so I had to share them all. I need about five more jobs!

Traditional Mehndi design hurricane candle holder
$55 by All About Henna

Guitar Strap Woven with Recycled Sari Silk and Cotton
$40 by A Spinner Weaver

Aqua-Lime Brocade Stripe Cushion
$20.50 by Behirah

Bohemian Sunset Earrings with Carnelian and Caribbean Blue Chalcedony
$29 by The Stella Blue Gallery

Elephant Parade Matted Print
$12 by Signet Studio

Crafty Love! Lamps

As I gear up for moving into my new house, I’m still on the hunt for cool housewares. There is no better place to find unique stuff than on Etsy. Here are some of my favorites this week.

I love lamps. And I love patchwork. Obviously, this lampshade was made with me in mind. I particularly like the fact that it can be a ceiling lamp shade as well. Although, the new house has practically no overhead lights, which I actually prefer. Lamp light is so much more relaxing. $68 by Folly and Glee

Oh, look! Another lamp! I have a weird attraction to modern design, even though I don’t use much of it in my home. I love this cherry blossom design, and I’m always drawn to things that glow from within. This artist also makes an autumn leaf lamp that is a tie for my favorite. And her descriptions are awesome: “If I could observe the world on a full time basis I would do this as a cherry blossom tree in a Japanese garden. My body firm as the trunk and my arms spread wide to the sky, fragrant blossoms hanging from me filling the air with their sweet scent. It would be peaceful. I would be beautiful.”  $91 by Zayra Design

One day soon, I’m planning on graduating from my $1 coffee table that I’ve been using since college. There’s nothing wrong with it, except maybe that it’s a little small. Small has been good for the most part. I’ve lived in small places. I just think it’s time to move on. So when I get my new adult coffee table, hopefully I’ll actually have room for coasters, and I will be using the ones pictured above. I’m not sure what it is about them that appeals to me, but they’re kinda funky, and I like that. $14.95 by Funky Chicken Design

Crafty Update: Sofa Cushions

This is a horrible picture because I am not very good at using my new camera yet. The story is that my futon was getting pretty squished, and the bland tan cover needed some visual improvement. I bought some huge 27″ pillows from Roses for like $8 a piece and made covers for them out of some embroidered silk taffeta I scrounged from the back of my fabric closet. (Yes, I have a fabric closet. My mom has a fabric room. My grandmother has a fabric house. It runs in the family.) The back of each pillow is dark brown corduroy (purchased for mere cents at a by-the-pound thrift store). So I basically have a new couch for under $40. As you can see, Birdy already has her spot hollowed out. She is dismayed that the amount of sprawling-out space to which she is accustomed has diminished. But according to my lower back, this set up is way more comfortable than the mashed flat futon mattress.

Please try not to dwell on the dog hair underneath the futon. Birdy likes to lie under there to sleep because it’s dark and cool. And I’m a lazy vacummer.

In this picture, you can see the patterns and texture of the fabrics better. I made these as floor pillows for Coocatchoo’s yoga studio a while back and had leftover fabric. Her pillows had a natural colored linen backing. Making your own pillow cases for big ugly pillows is actually a really economical way to decorate. One plain pillow insert in this size can be purchased online for about the same price as I purchased and recovered all four. Now if I could just figure out how to reupholster my ugly chairs…