Whimsical DIY shelves from end tables

We’ve been working on a sky-high loft bed as part of our four-year-old daughter’s bedroom makeover, and that meant there were two pieces of furniture she definitely didn’t need anymore: her two nightstands.

I mean, unless we wanted to hang them from the ceiling? Hmmm . . .

I knew I absolutely wanted to reuse them somehow. They’re solid wood with beautiful curvy details, and the process of making them — cutting a single end table in half to get two nightstands — was so fun.

But since she wasn’t going to be able to use them as nightstands when her bed was hovering near the ceiling, I had to think of a new use for them. I stared at them for a long time and eventually tried stacking them. What if I . . . yes! That was it!

There’s a great bookstore and coffee shop here in Truro called NovelTea, and they have a fabulous wall of shelves built from halved coffee tables and end tables — all arranged in stacks and painted the same colour. It was the perfect way to reuse these nightstands.

NovelTea’s cool shelves

So I took another hand-me-down end table I’d had for a while — painted in Fusion Mineral Paint’s Algonquin but only used for a while in our living room. We sliced it in half down the middle, using our circular saw, just like we’d once done to make those nightstands.

One end table, SLICED!

Then I spread out a dropcloth and started painting all four of the table-halves — tops, bottoms and underneath, since most nooks and crannies would be visible.

I used one of Fusion Mineral Paint’s new shades, Coral, which was a Christmas gift from the lovely owners of Phillips & Chestnut Victorian Salvage & Decor. It’s a stunning colour and it’s always fun to paint with something so vibrant.

After a couple of rounds of painting, flipping the tables, painting again and doing final touch-ups, they were ready to install …

I possibly should have waited until my husband was awake to help me, but I was too eager to get started (as usual) and decided to figure it out myself.

I did a test-stack of the table-halves and learned that my original plan — alternating the chunkier table with the thinner table — wouldn’t work, since they had very different depths. So I resigned myself to stacking the two chunkier tables first, and then having the two slimmer tables on top. 

There was a tremendous crash as they immediately tumbled down, so apparently I wasn’t going to be able to leave them stacked — even for a second — without securing them to the wall. But how was I going to do that, exactly? Again, I sat and thought.

I decided the table-halves didn’t need to be attached to each other as long as they were attached to the wall. So I ran down to my mitre saw and cut four strips of 2×2 (the length of the tables). I positioned the first table against the wall, pressed the piece of 2×2 against the wall, and screwed down into the table and then again into the wall. It wasn’t budging now! 

I continued to do this with the other three tables — stacking, adding the piece of wood, screwing into the table and into the wall — until my little tower was finished. I didn’t even bother screwing the legs into the table-tops because everything felt so sturdy already. 

I painted the wood strips coral so they blended into the shelves, and then I was ready to style them! It was fun to arrange my daughter’s books and figurines along with a few picture frames I’d painted. 

I love that this set of shelves has a small footprint, and there’s something about it — the fun colour, the curves — that reminds me of the French Provincial-style armoire in Beauty and the Beast. It’s whimsical and perfect for a little girl’s room. 

While the new loft bed is going to be the showstopper in this room, this DIY bookcase will give it a run for its money!



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