Shelf Life

Shelves right angle

What’s better than getting a bargain? Getting something for nothing. Hard rubbish people, that’s where I found the goods for my latest DIY. Some people would call it gross. I think the council call it theft. But honestly, who hasn’t grabbed something from a hard rubbish collection even once in their lives? I think if you can give it a better home or a second life it’s much better than letting it all go to landfill.

Shelves 6

Right, now that I’ve stated my justification for shamelessly pilfering junk from someone’s nature strip let’s get to the business end of this post – my new shelves! We found two things in this particular junk pile, a wooden stool that I’m not yet sure what to do with and a little chest of drawers on small castors. It’s small and just made out plywood but it was in great shape. If you ignore the hideous paint job and flower stencil situation. I originally thought it might be good for the space next to my desk in the craft room to store paper and things but at the end of the day, even with a new paint job it would have been just too small and crappy to be functional as the drawers wouldn’t slide well with another coat of paint and it made no sense putting in loads of effort to strip such an el cheapo bit of crud. So, I decided to remove the drawers and just use the body of the thing as pigeon holes on top of the desk. Eventually I’ll remove the castors and paint it but for now it’s being really useful sorting out all my paper supplies so I can easily see and reach them.

The drawers as they were when we found them

The six left over drawers are great as little wooden boxes as they don’t have any overhang on any sides (except underneath). They’re just neat litte rectangles with a single hole for the drawer pull to go. One is holding all my cans of spray paint and two have become little hanging shelves for the lounge room. I love the idea of adding some dimension to the walls and also taking some bits and pieces off the furniture surfaces and putting them somewhere at eye level but out of the way (this is what happens to a thrift shop addict – you run out of space quite quickly). I painted them grey-blue and red inside with a kind of mushroom on the outside hoping to get a mid century modern vibe which I think I kind of pulled off.

I think I have found my ‘style’ a bit more and I am really leaning towards mid century modern. So is everyone according to all the design blogs and ebay, where some prices for mid century pieces are out.of.control. Anyway it’s the clean lines, beautiful wood, excellent craftsmanship and the strong but not imposing nature of the style that I love. It seems to harmonise with anything and suits an eclectic home. I know, I know, I’m a little late getting on the bandwagon but that’s my relationship with trends for you. By the time I’m into something everyone is already over it and has moved on to Twitter.

Originally I wanted to have them sitting flush against the wall on their own but after playing around with a few things I realised screwing them into the wall was the only option and I couldn’t do that as we rent. I contemplated those 3M velcro strips but wasn’t sure there was enough surface area on the back of the drawer to hold the strips as the bottom of the drawer is indented leaving a thin edge. I tried hanging them the same way you’d hang a picture frame but they leaned away from the wall making the shelf at an angle where things could slip out. The twine idea worked well but definitely detracted from my mid century vision. The twine also means that whatever is in the shelves has to balance so that it’s not sitting at an angle. I am thinking about using 3M strips to secure them to the wall to eliminate that problem, while the twine still takes all the weight.

For this project you will need

Wooden drawers or boxes

Paint (I used spray paint for the inside and an unidentified sample pot of that mushroom colour for the outside)

Paintbrush if needed

Strong twine

Masking tape and cling wrap or newspaper

A drill with a drill bit slightly bigger than the string


Begin by cleaning the boxes inside and out with a damp cloth and letting it dry completly.

Cover the outside edges with masking tape and cover all the outside surfaces with newspaper or cling wrap to protect it from paint (if using spray paint) and paint the insides of the boxes with 3 good coats.

Paint the outsides (if you have raw wood you will need to prime it first, I was lucky that the gross green paint mine already had acted as a primer).

Once completely dry you will need to drill 4 holes in the corners of bottom part of the top box, one hole in the top part of the top box and one hole in the top part of the bottom box.

String one length of twine through each of the 4 holes in the top box and make large knots on the ends of the string inside the box. The knots will need to be big and strong enough so that they wont pull through the holes.

Next, string all those 4 lengths into the hole in the top of the bottom box. If it’s difficult to get all 4 lengths of twine in the one hole wrap sticky tape around it like the end of a shoelace. This will make it easier to push through. Ensure all the lengths between the 2 boxes are are equal and knot them together on the inside of the bottom box.

Finally, thread a loop of twine through the outside of the hole on the top part of the top box and knot from the inside. Hang the loop on a hook and you’re done. If none of that made an ounce of sense, you should be able to figure it out from the pictures!

UMP (Unidentified Mystery Paint)

Painted inside

Drawers painted inside and out

Detailed and to-scale sketchings

Drawers all strung together

Shelves 1

Shelves 4

Shelves close up

Shelves 5

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