I've been wanting to paint our old shelving unit for years now and I finally did it! I actually finished it late last winter right before my mother-in-law got sick and I'm FINALLY getting around to writing about it. This is an old shelving unit that we got at Ikea almost 20 years ago. It was totally 90s with an orangey beech color veneer on it. I think this unit is the precursor to the Expedit shelving unit that Ikea carries today but I don't know for sure (addendum 2/20/13: Thanks to someone who was able to correctly identify these as Ikea's Akrobat shelving!) All I know is that it's old and outdated and we still have it.
I sometimes have a hard time parting with furniture for some reason, even ugly furniture. It feels a tad wasteful when we have a perfectly functional unit; maybe I'm too
Here's what it looked like before I painted it:
Not very pretty, but it does the job of holding our stereo equipment (hellooo, double cassette player alert - the stereo really should be updated too) and knickknacks, and the hidden storage is great for all my candles, vases, extra wine glasses, and CDs. Actually, it looks a little better in this picture than it does in real life. Go figure! This piece is actually two shelving units that are side-by-side.
When I first decided to paint this, I thought of painting it white. I also considered a really deep dark brown color, but I think I was so tired of that orangey wood veneer color that I just wanted it to blend in more with the walls so I went with a light sandy beige. I didn't want it to be boring though, so I added a stencil to the doors (more on that later) and painted the back an aqua color. I also added feet (or are they short legs? Call them what you like) and I think that really updated it too.
Here's how I painted this old thing:
- First I removed the doors and hardware. The finished piece will look a lot better in the long run if you take the time to do this step rather than trying to paint with everything still on there. I also removed the back of the shelving unit since I wanted to paint it a different color.
- Next I sanded the shelving unit and doors. It doesn't need much sanding, just enough to give the primer something to grab on to. I used both an orbital sander for the big pieces and sand paper for the inside corners and it took me maybe 10 minutes. You don't want to take too much off because it's laminate. Just a really light sanding is all that's needed. Some primers even state that you don't need to sand ahead of time but I like to just to be on the safe side. Next, wipe all the surfaces down thoroughly to remove the dust. I used a tack cloth.
- Fill any holes that you want to fill at this point using a paintable wood filler or spackle. There were holes along each of the sides of the unit for the adjustable shelves that I didn't really think about, but they really stood out after I put on the primer. I went ahead and filled them at this point and re-primed over those spots just for good measure, but you should fill any holes you want to fill before you prime:
- Prime all the surfaces that you want to paint with an oil based primer. I've used both water and oil based primers and I think the paint job lasts a lot longer and is much more durable with an oil based primer. You can paint over an oil based primer with latex paint which is exactly what I did. I used Zinsser Cover Stain oil based primer since that's what I had on hand. It's not that hard to work with - you can either use a disposable brush that you can throw out afterward or use a paintbrush that's compatible with oil-based paint and clean up using mineral spirits.
- Let primer dry according to manufacturer directions.
- Paint at least two coats of latex or oil based paint in your choice of color and let dry in between coats according to manufacturer directions. The paint color I chose was a custom color of leftover latex paint that I made using the wall color lightened up with a little white.
- After painting the last coat, I let the paint dry for a full week. I have found through trial and error that if I don't let the paint cure, I get a lot more chips and peeling. Plus I got busy so didn't get around to painting the final coat of sealant for another week. :)
- Stencil doors. See details below on how I created the pattern for these doors. Let dry.
- Add a coat of sealant. I used Minwax water-based Polycrylic clear satin and let it dry for another week before I put anything on it. So far, it has held up really well except for one spot that I totally dinged hard on top.
I mentioned that I removed the back and painted it separately with a light aqua color. I used the same process of priming, painting, and protecting on these pieces as well. Sorry I don't have a color name for this one either since I mixed three leftover paint colors together in my little tupperware container to make it:
I added short legs to the unit using leftover 2x2 wood (which is really 1 1/2" x 1 1/2", go figure) I spotted in the garage. My husband cut 8 pieces that were each 2 1/2" in length and attached them to the bottom using L brackets and construction adhesive, like this:
*After adding the legs, I found that the cabinet sagged a little towards the center. We remedied that by putting a block on the floor under the center of each unit to lift it back up.
Creating the "Stenciling" on the Doors:
I wanted to do something interesting to the doors like a stencil but after looking, I couldn't find one that I wanted to use. One day I found this Trina Turk pillow online at Zinc Door and my world changed:
|Trina Turk pillow at Zinc Door|
1. Using 1" wide painter's tape, tape the edge of the door on all four sides, keeping the edge of the tape aligned with the edge of the door. I love FrogTape for a job like this. It's a little more expensive than the regular blue painter's tape, but I find I don't get any paint seepage with this tape and it doesn't peel off any paint when removing. Other painter's tape will probably work just fine as long as you really press the edges down well.
2. Tape a second row of tape the same way as you did the first.
3. Now do it again making a third row of tape. Now you have three rows of tape all the same width thanks to the consistent width of the tape. You're using the width of the tape as your stencil pattern guide.
4 & 5. Remove the second row of tape. You may need to use a box cutter to trim off any little tail pieces of tape before removing the tape, gently cutting so as not to gouge your wood. You won't need a lot of pressure to cut through it.
6. Repeat steps 1-3 as you move inward towards the center until you have filled in the center with tape. Remove that middle row of tape creating a boxed stripe pattern. Leave the center filled in with tape.
7. To create the gaps in the middle row (where the arrows in pic #7 are), I marked the center of each side and placed another piece of tape across the center to use as my guideline. Then I cut the pieces out using a box cutter and a ruler. Be really careful to use just enough pressure to cut through the tape - you don't want to gouge your wood. Now press down on all your tape pieces so paint doesn't seep under the tape.
8. Paint a contrasting paint over the entire piece. I used white. You might need a second coat depending on how opaque you want it. I ended up painting a second coat. Remove tape and voila! A clean, crisp geometric pattern. use your imagination with this method. You can do stripes or other boxed patterns as well.
Finally, I added the doors back on the unit and added the backside back on, then added new door knobs that I got at Hobby Lobby for $2 each. It's like sand and sea meets a little geometric modern. I like it!
Here it is with all our stuff back on it. The old stereo went back on it (that was a requirement by the hubs until we get a new one ::hangs head in dramatic shame::) but I moved it to the corner where the chair mostly hides the stereo and speaker:
Since I already had the paint and wood for the legs, the total cost for this project was about $10 for the knobs and the L brackets for the legs. Now I can live with this for a few more years until we move. Love that!
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