Hokey-Oak Bookcase Remake D-I-Y

It’s no secret: I’m having a baby, and we’re on a budget for the mid-century modern-inspired nursery. So far, I’ve repurposed and repainted my first born’s Ikea crib, reupholstered a vintage 50’s rocker found on Craigslist, and found a mid-century modern credenza at the Long Beach Flea to double as storage and a changing table. Wanting to knock out all the furniture-related needs asap, I jumped at the hokey-oak bookcase I found at Goodwill a few weeks ago.

Let it be said that I really dislike oak. You know, the honey-hued late 80’s and 90’s stuff with the moulding and rounded edges. Well, when I was at the Goodwill not too long ago, that’s exactly what I spotted. Just begging to be painted and repurposed, this solid wood baby was $30.

Solid Oak, custom corner cabinet...just waiting for a makeover.
Solid Oak, custom corner cabinet…just waiting for a makeover.

Here’s a re-cap of my inspiration board found on Pinterest. We’re working with a very small room for our babe-on-the-way so the corner cabinet fit the bill.

Here's the idea board found on Pinterest.
Here’s the idea board found on Pinterest.

I just loved the pop of color from the orange and white book case. So out to Home Depot I went and had a quick chat with the nice man in the paint department. He suggested I get the paint + primer. Wise counsel is never a bad thing. For $15, I had my hands on 1 quart of “Tart Orange” bookcase paint.


“Modern” Line Home Decorators Collection by Behr. Color: Tart Orange

Here’s what you’ll need to prep your piece:

Prybar & Hammer (to remove hideous moulding)

Krud Kutter (to remove excess wood glue)

Electric Sander (because it’s just plain fun to use power tools)

Putty Knife (for jimmying off excess wood)

Fine Sandpaper (to scuff up your surface)

Painters Tape


I had a couple “Oh Sh*t” moments during this project. The first was that the custom cabinet makers did such a good job of gluing the molding at top and bottom of the piece that the wood splintered and wouldn’t come completely off.

In stepped the Krud Kutter. When that did it’s work, we still had some wood and glue residue left over. (They REALLY didn’t want that moulding to come off)

After the Krud Kutter dried, I enlisted the help of Mr. Power Sander and Mr. Putty Knife (Wearing “safety aviators” and a Michael Jackson mask, of course!)

A rather un flattering photo of me courtesy of my 5 year old. Thanks buddy.
A rather unflattering photo of me courtesy of my 5 year old. Thanks buddy.

After sanding, and chipping away, then sanding and chipping away again, and again, I was over it….and this is what I decided was going to be good enough for a friggin’ kid’s room. Don’t anger the pregnant lady.

See the glue line?
See the glue line?

I wiped the mess away using Murphy Oil Soap. (All of these items-except the paint were in my arsenal already, keeping the cost of the project minimal. It was allllll labor on this one.)


So after removing the molding, scuffing up the shelves and sanding down the excess wood and glue, I gave this piece a nice wipe down with Murphy’s. And it’s paint time, baby!

Dear Lord...
Dear Lord…

This was my second “Oh Sh*t” moment. As in, “Oh sh*t, I’m going to have to paint each shelf 5 times.” As it turned out, the magic number was 4….but my quart of paint was plenty enough to cover the challenge.

Let’s skip ahead here…


4 coats and about 4 days later, we’re ready for the white! I grabbed some Rustoleum ready-made latex paint (Semi-Gloss in White) and started rolling the edges.

009 (2)

A few days after that….I gave the piece a clear coating using some clear spray paint I had in the garage. At this point, I was so tired of the project, that petroleum jelly could have done. I was over it.

Could I have gone to Ikea, and bought a Billy Bookcase for $99? Yes. I could have, but I much prefer re-using and recycling if possible. I got to rescue a piece of furniture that was otherwise unwanted. In the end, my project cost less than 1/2 what a new bookcase would have AND I got solid wood, versus particle board.

Billy Bookcase from Ikea
Billy Bookcase from Ikea

The end result?

010 (2)

Up the stairs to the nursery she went….and my 5-year-old son lovingly placed his old baby toys and books on the shelf for his brother-to-be. That sight made all the work worth it.





Christmas Came Early….Rust Removal 101

So two weeks ago in my Christmas Wishes post, I was writing about the ultimate Christmas wish. This week, I have in my kitchen a sleek and gorgeous vintage Saarinen-style tulip table and 4 chairs, courtesy of my loving and enthusiastic husband. No ladies, you cannot have him. Christmas came early for this MCM blogger, and I couldn’t be happier about it!

Let me preface this gift explanation by saying the table and chairs I’ve been wanting run from $900/used-$2500/updated or refinished. If you were to want to purchase a new tulip table and chairs that are reproductions;  you’d be paying no less than $1000 BEFORE shipping.  So even though its torture, I am continually scrolling through Craigslist, estate sale photos, and Ebay on the look-out for the elusive fairly priced and very much in demand tulip table and chairs.  Imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon an Ebay auction for one said set for a fraction of the price that I’ve been seeing them online. The only catch to this auction was that the merchandise had to be picked up locally – in Long Beach. Long story short, I am convinced that the only reasons why I “won” this auction: because I didn’t have to compete with the rest of the world, it was a Wednesday night and I’m the only crazy person trolling for tulip on a Wednesday that and they were totally meant for me. I.AM.SMITTEN. Do you want to hear something amazing? This set isn’t a Saarinen original, but it is mid-century, and it was manufactured by Frank Bros. Furniture, who were commissioned to furnish the Case Study Houses! I love vintage furniture, but I love it more when there is a story behind a piece.  http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/home_blog/2009/08/the-jaunty-guy-on-the-left-in-the-above-photo-is-ron-frank-son-of-one-of-the-two-co-founders-of-famed-long-beach-furniture.html

Before I show my sweet new set in its little cozy corner of the kitchen, let’s change gears do a little Rust Removal 101. The base of the table and chairs are paint on metal, and there was quite a bit of rust on them. The tulip stems clearly needed some TLC, and I was only too happy to give it to them. Kudos to my mother, who said, “Why don’t you go to Home Depot and get some of that stuff that removes rust but is safe for the finish?” To which I replied, “Geeeeeeehhhh?” I had no idea that something like that even existed. Obdient and enlightened, I headed to Home Depot with a picture of my rust problem. The helpful guy in the paint department asked me a strange question, “Can you be gentle?” I hesitantly replied, “Yes?” not really sure what that meant. I was prescribed the following – and instructed to apply the magic potion to my table with a cloth. I was positively delighted with the results (after about an hour):

Krud Kutter - $4 bucks at Home Depot. Chuck Norris has nothing on this guy.
Krud Kutter. ($4) Cuts more crap than Chuck Norris.
2 of the Chairs Before from afar
2 of the Chairs Before from afar
Action Shot
Action Shot
I recommend gloves and a soft cloth for application
Safety first…wear gloves and use a soft cloth for application.
Worst offender before photo
Worst offender before photo
Worst offender after an hour
Worst offender after an hour
Example/Chair 2 Before
Example/Chair 2 Before
Example/Chair 2 After
Example/Chair 2 After

No, I do not work for Krud Kutter….but I wouldn’t mind being a spokesperson, now that I’ve seen their stuff in action. It actually dissolves the rust, is water-based, biodegradable and easy to use. In fact, I have been running around the house applying Krud Kutter where the shaving cream bottle left rust in the shower…and I have some vintage bar stools with rusted metal bottoms that I’ll be tackling next. If you’re looking for remarkable results and immediate gratification, this is your DIY project.

And finally, second only to my gorgeous son, this is my favorite sight in the morning:

Vision in white. Once I find bright teal seat cushions, it will be perfection.
Vision in white. I’m on the lookout for teal seat cushions…and we shall have perfection.