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I finished a piece of furniture! (the free bookshelf)

Alrighty, patient readers…as you know, I’ve been blessed with lots of free furniture lately, and I’ve been working on rehabbing most of it.

So, this is the first in an intermittent series of makeovers.

A flowered notebook on a white shelf.

First up? This bookshelf.

A wooden bookshelf in a garage.

It popped up on the Buy Nothing group in my parents’ neighborhood (I joined while I lived there!), so I went with my van to pick it up.

(Again: God bless the versatile minivan.)

It’s an Ikea bookshelf, and the person who was giving it away let me know that it was rather wobbly. I’m sure you know how those Ikea things can get after a while!

I showed it to my dad, and since he knew I was going to paint it, he suggested that instead of tightening the weird Ikea anchors, he could just drive a bunch of screws in.

He was very thorough:

A bookshelf with white spackle over screw holes.

All the white spots are where I used spackle to cover the screw holes.

Not only did he use screws, but he also glued a lot of the pieces together. As a result, this bookshelf, in its current state, is very possibly the most sturdy Ikea piece in the entire world.

A wooden bookshelf.

Whenever my dad makes something, it is always extremely solid. Usually, when he’s finished securing something, he says, “Well, that’s not gonna go anywhere.”

And in this case, we could say, “Well, that’s not gonna ever wobble again!”

I sanded the whole thing down, primed it, and painted it. And I was again reminded that bookshelves are SO MUCH WORK. They’ve just got a ton of surface area, and so many corners and edges.

I remember thinking this when I re-did Sonia’s huge bookshelf. Which was also a freebie! In case you weren’t here then, a pic of that one:

Thomasville bookshelf with white paint

Anyway, this bookshelf took forever.

A bookshelfin the midst of painting.

Mid-project, I had an idea: what if there was a kickboard underneath the bottom shelf? I thought it would make the bookshelf look a little more solid.

See how there’s no bottom piece in the front?

A wooden bookshelf in a garage.

Luckily, my dad had a piece of wood that worked, so he screwed it in for me and I filled the holes and painted it.

A white painted bookshelf in a garge.

Do you see my table legs over on the right side? A sneak peek!

Anyway! The bookshelf is now in the bedroom that I’m using as an office, and I DO really love the improvement that the bottom board brings.

The bottom of a white bookshelf.

Edit: reader Rose wanted to see the bobblehead up closer, so here’s a photo. I got it as a gift from All-Star Money because one of my posts was the most popular article they shared one week…I didn’t actually go out and buy a bobblehead of myself. Ha.

Kristen with a bobblehead of herself

Here’s what the whole bookshelf looks like; the picture is kind of grainy because it was getting dark yesterday when I remembered to take these photos.

A white bookshelf.

Another view of the bottom board:

A white bookshelf in a room with oak floors.

The shelves are still on the empty side of things; I haven’t decided what all I want to store here. But I DID quickly decide that my unofficial mascot, the pink piggy bank, needed a home on the shelf. 😉

A pink piggy bank on a bookshelf.

I kinda-sorta think the bookshelf would look better if it had a solid white back, and that would be quite a do-able project; I’d just have to attach a big piece of painted plywood on the back.

A pink pig on a bookshelf.

But for now, this is fine.


Since I’m renting right now, there’s a certain temporariness to my life. And that’s part of why it is rather satisfying to redo some furniture for myself; even when I move out of my rental, I get to take the furniture with me.

The house I’m living in is not mine, but my furniture IS mine! And that’s a nice feeling.

A before and after collage of the bookshelf.


Supply/Equipment Details:

I explained my whole sanding/priming/painting process more thoroughly in this post.

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Wednesday 25th of May 2022

You and your Dad did a great job. I love seeing your furniture repair and redo!


Tuesday 24th of May 2022

As a cat owner, the big benefit I see in the kickboard is one less place for cat toys to go. :-)

Dawn Williams

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Hi Kristen,

I love reading your furniture posts! Well, all of your posts! I’ve been a loyal blog reader for 8 years? Give or take!

I have an old dresser, mirror, and matching night stands that I want to redo this summer. They were mine when I was a kid, and my cousin’s before that! They are the French provincial style that was popular 40 or so years ago. Do you have any tips? I believe the tops are Formica? Or that’s what I remember my mother saying.

Thanks for having an awesome blog! Dawn


Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Does the furniture look at all like the ones at the end of this post?

I've painted several things with Formica tops, and I've just sanded them to get the sheen off, and then proceeded with the primer and paint. I was a little nervous at first to see what would happen, but it's held up fine over the years!

Susan Hansen

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Love this transformation! Great job! Can't wait to see your other furniture finished! Have fun!

Karen Parlier

Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Wow you did an awesome job looks brand new and really sturdy!!


Tuesday 24th of May 2022

Thank you!

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