Map themed bookshelf makeover

We have three of these bookshelves. You may know that I’ve been going through the process of trying to shrink the amount of stuff we have. My current mindset is that just because it fits in the house doesn’t mean we need it. If it isn’t functional, we don’t use it, or it adds clutter then I’m trying to change that, either by making it functional or donating/selling it.

That’s how I started this bookshelf makeover. They came from Target, so they are not fancy at all. They used to sit side by side, creating a whole wall of books. When we re-arranged furniture a few years ago, they wouldn’t all fit, so one of them was relocated to another room. We easily filled it with stuff, but we don’t really need it. That’s how it became my next target. When I determined we didn’t need this, my first thought was to sell it on Craigslist. My next thought was hey, I could practice my chalk painting on this before selling it on Craigslist. So, that’s what I did. I’ve been map crazy, so I decided to try adding a map to the shelf, too.

Here’s the before/after photo:
Bookshelf Makeover Before and After
To start this project, I took the back off the shelf, took the drawers and shelves out, then painted it with chalk paint. Since I knew I wasn’t keeping this, I decided to use only things I had on hand and not spend any money for this makeover. I had white paint, so that’s the color I used. I followed the recipe that I used on the armoire project to make my own chalk paint. The thing that has me so intrigued with chalk pain is that you don’t have to prep. Hooray. I gave the bookshelf several coats of paint. When I had all the pieces painted, I got out my vintage atlas and found the pages I wanted to put on this shelf. I cut them out with an X-acto Knife.
map from vintage atlas
I used Mod Podge to attach the map to the back wall of the bookshelf. I wanted it at the top, so I measured beforehand to be sure I placed it in the right spot. This is where I learned a few things. First, once the image gets wet, it’s hard to move it. You have to do it right the first time. I ended up with some ripples that I couldn’t remove without tearing the map, so I smashed them down. I think they look like waves in the ocean, don’t you? Or is that just me trying to look on the bright side? Another thing I learned is that even if you are trying to smash down the paper, you can rip it. There is a small hole in the ocean on this map that I couldn’t figure out how to fix, so I left it there.
Mod Podge map to bookshelf
Once the map had dried, I coated the back panel of the bookshelf with polyurethane. This back panel is actually two pieces of wood-like material, probably particle board, and it’s held together with duct tape. It came that way. See, I told you this wasn’t fancy to start with. The polyurethane dried thick in some spots, so it looks more yellow in those spots. I wanted it to look distressed and aged, but not that way. I tried using steel wool to smooth out the spots and ended up rubbing all the way through and creating another rough spot. I tried to hide it with paint, but ultimately ended up putting a shelf right above the spot, so it doesn’t even show anymore.
polyurethane on map bookshelf
I distressed the shelf so that the black shows through on most of the edges. That’s the other great thing about chalk paint: it’s easy to distress. Then I added a coat of wax so the paint won’t chip off, and reassembled all the pieces. The wax also helps with the aged look, making the white look a bit more yellowed. I used the same drawer pulls that came with the shelf because I didn’t want to spend any money on this project. I think if I planned on keeping it I might have changed those, but this work.
bookshelf makeover with map
map bookshelf DIY
Here’s how it looks in the house:
black to white bookshelf makeover
top half of DIY bookshelf makeover
top shelf of bookshelf makeover
bottom of bookshelf makeover
I think it turned out okay, and I like it even more when it’s filled with books and favorite things. I’m still not going to keep it, but I’m glad I got to practice and learn from this project before I get rid of the shelf. The last thing I learned is that I don’t want to make a hobby out of giving makeovers to furniture I don’t intend to keep – it’s too time-consuming!
bookshelf makeover with map

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