a {how to} ikea hack. an upgrade to bookshelves.

The other week I shared about the shelves in our bedroom that went from boring black to something that makes your heart skip a beat. It’s true that they were originally found among the aisles of Ikea, but now I think they have a little nod to Restoration Hardware. Ahhh, a little more my style.

1-ikea hack

Remember, I was on a budget? The whole project cost me under $200, including all the paint. I started with {two} black bookshelves from the Vittsjo series. Each shelf cost $79 and I was out of that place for just about $160. And, when they were placed in the room with love they took up a whopping six feet of wall space.

It really was super easy and didn’t cost a lot of money. But, you have to be willing to take on a {paint it on, look at it, decide to add more} approach. A little trial and error approach. Just a few things will get you started.

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For all of those type-a people this may not be your favorite {how-to} diy. I literally painted a little on, wiped a little off and then sat back and stared at it. I kept doing that throughout the week until it looked the way I wanted. I know, eeek. Sorry, folks. If you are in the mood for a little trial and error, {and I assure you there is no way to mess it up} follow along.

 {step 1}
take off glass shelves and prepare work space.
Pretty easy. Prepare space. Enough said.

 {step 2}
use dry brush technique with
brushed pewter metallic paint, wipe off areas that are saturated with paint. 
Squeeze paint on to a paper plate. Dip brush into paint and use wiping cloth {or a hub’s old white t-shirt} to remove a majority of paint on brush. Haphazardly and in quick strokes, paint the piece in various directions. Try not saturate one area. At this point, less is more. Continue dipping, wiping brush and painting on shelves, while trying to achieve a very “rough, unfinished” look.

 {step 3}
use dry brush technique with
medium gray paint, wipe off areas that are saturated with paint.
Clean out brush or use a new one. Squeeze paint on to a paper plate. Dip brush into paint and use wiping cloth to remove a majority of paint on brush. Continue applying paint in a haphazard fashion, remembering that less is more and you will continue this process a few times with each paint color. Continue dipping, wiping brush and painting on shelves with second color. It should still have a very “rough, unfinished” look.

 {step 4}
use dry brush technique with
french linen paint, wipe off areas that are saturated with paint.
Repeat steps 2/3 using that same technique, but with the french linen paint. Use this paint very minimally or exclude all together. This allows for a gray hue to be layered, but only small amounts are necessary. More will be used on the bottom shelf.

{step 5}
repeat steps 2 – 4 until piece has a layered, brushed
Continue repeating steps until you have achieved the weathered, iron look. I used the metallic paint and gray the most and continued to alternate between paint coats several times. Paint it on, step back and look at it to decide what areas need additional paint or layers.
You’re probably going to love this part… I let it sit in the bedroom for a week and would add layers of paint a day at a time until I had it just the way I wanted it. Sorry for those out there who love instant gratification.

when you’re done it could look something like this…

{step 6}
painting the base of the shelf.

For the bottom shelf I used all three paint colors, but used 2x more french linen than the other two. I used the dry brush technique, but also used a painting block I have to spread the paint in a “chipped” fashion. Again, I used the dry brush to wipe on layers of paint and continued this for several different layers.


To be honest, the shelf is not my most favorite part. It didn’t turn out exactly how I envisioned because it is a different material than the shelving unit. Next time around, I might add a stained wood shelf to the bottom or leave it black. Fortunately, I had some crates and larger items that do a pretty good job of hiding my least favorite part. Phew.

{step 6}
looking glass spray on glass shelves.
I repeat. Totally optional. I only did this because I already had the Looking Glass spray and I have a secret crush on anything that has a mercury glass look. Totally not necessary, but I totally did it anyways.

Using Krylon Looking Glass Spray, give the shelves a mirrored, mercury glass look using a vinegar and spray technique. You can see directions and how I achieved the same look on a chandelier here.

looking glass

I mean, come on. How amazing are? I would say they are a huge improvement and turn something that is a little ho-hum into something that makes you just want to smile. A few days of painting and there you go. So. Much. Better.
thx cards & bookshelves

Looking for some styling tips and a way to fill those shelves on a budget? Find some tips here. Maybe a simple transformation can change up a boring piece into something a little more jaw dropping. Make a statement. On a budget, of course.

try. enjoy. share.

Letter J XO


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