Have you ever seen something that you really wanted for your home, but couldn’t afford it? When my daughter was a teenager she loved browsing the Pottery Barn magazine for decorating ideas. One day she fell in love with some painted cubicle shelves that were out of her price range. Looking for a budget savvy solution, we decided to make our own shelves. Here's how we did it.
Two 1x6 8-foot long unfinished pine planks. (5 ½” x ¾”)
3 quarts of latex paint in red, orange and green.
Spray on sealer
3” nylon brush
1” nylon brush
My husband cut the planks with his circular saw into the following lengths: four 6-1/4” pieces and four 5-1/2” pieces to make two cube shelves. Four 7” pieces and four 6-1/4” pieces to make two cube shelves. Two 13-1/2” and three 18” pieces to make one 13-1/2 x 19” cube shelf with an 18” shelf in the middle.
The shelves were screwed together and the screws were covered with drywall mud to hide them. If you are an experienced carpenter, you might go a few steps further by making dovetail corners first, however, being novice carpenters using just the screws served our purposes.
After cutting the wood to the desired measurements, each shelf was lightly sanded. Sanding is something you always want to do when painting wood, because it raises the grain a bit which creates a bit of “tooth” for the paint to grab. Then it’s important to lightly sand between painted coats for a smooth finish. Use a finer grit sandpaper when sanding between coats.
We primed each shelf with Kilz. I like using Kilz because it blocks stain and prevents seepage from any knots in the unfinished wood. We used a low-odor Kilz primer to be safe.
After priming the shelves, my daughter painted each one in her desired colors: orange, red, blue and green. Such colors perfectly complemented the tropical theme she was striving for in her bedroom. When the paint was dry, she sprayed each shelf with a protective sealer.
Afterward the shelves were hung and became a fantastic display space for some of my daughter’s favorite things. Needless to say, she was thrilled with the final results.
We saved on the project because we did the work ourselves and because we already had some of the necessary materials in our inventory (saw, hammer, nails, screws, mud, brushes, and Kilz primer). The remaining paint, sandpaper and wood were cheaper than the cost of one of the Pottery Barn shelves. The shelves were built in one afternoon and years later are still holding up.
This project taught my daughter that she could create the look she wants for her bedroom for very little money. The results were something she was proud of, especially knowing she participated in the labor and design.
Creating something yourself is a great way to save money on decorating your home as well as build confidence in future DIY projects. Even if you can't make an exact duplicate of what you saw in a store or magazine, there is often a way to create something similar with satisfactory results. Bottom-line; don't despair if you fall in love with something out of your price range. With a little patience and a can-do attitude, you can transform your home into the look you want and save a bundle in the process.