How to Add New Life to Tired Furniture


Stylish furniture can come with a premium cost, and when you are starting with your first or second apartment nice furniture doesn’t always fit the budget. Hitting up the local thrift stores and yard sales is a great way to obtain sturdy furniture at a fraction of the cost of buying it new, but it may not look like new. Below are some fun ideas on how to spruce up old pieces of furniture to breathe new life into your home’s decor.

Step 1. Find pieces of furniture that you like. A good rule of thumb is to look for pieces with similar styles or color patterns to coordinate the pieces together. For example, if you have a round coffee table look for round side tables with a similar look to achieve a cohesive design.

Step 2. If your acquired furniture pieces are looking a bit tired, give them a facelift with a fresh coat (or six) of paint or stain to make them look shiny and new again. This may take some time and a lot of elbow grease, but it is well worth it in the end. You can use a bright color to make the piece stand out.

Optional: Go over your fresh paint job with a piece of sandpaper to add a modern, distressed look to the piece. People pay good money for furniture to come looking pre-worn, why pay for it when you can do it yourself?


Step 3. Decorate, Decorate, Decorate!

Here is the final step. Decorate your bookcase, office desk, or other piece of furniture to add a modern flair. The sky, your wallet, and your imagination are your only limits! Here are some ideas to get you started!


Stencils aren’t only for school children anymore! Visit your local home improvement store or hobby store to find an intricate stencil that you like. Then simply tape the stencil to the piece of furniture and paint on your design. Wait for the paint to dry, remove the tape and stencil, and you have an amazing work of art to display on the side of your furniture.


Who says you can’t add a bit of color or patterns to boring wooden furniture? Remove the shelves on your bookcase and wallpaper the back with your favorite colorful design, then put it all back together for a unique decorative look. This idea is also great for a linen closet, bedroom closet, or really anything with shelves.



Use this innovative decorative technique to create an awesome looking collage on shelves, end tables, or any other piece! The decoupage process involves taking pictures, pieces of paper, or even cut-outs of magazines or comic books and gluing them onto furniture. You then go over the paper several times with varnish to protect the paper from harm while keeping them securely in place. Go online for more details.

Word Carving or Wood Burning

If you have the skills, or know someone who does, this old-fashioned decorating idea is perfect for decorating furniture pieces, wooden picture frames, or other wooden artwork in your home. You can also hire someone to do the work for you, but that may be costly depending on the extent of the work you want done to your piece.


Stick on Tile, Brick, Wood, or Stone

Are you in love with shiny tile, sophisticated brickwork, rustic looking wood, or even modern looking stone? You can use faux veneer or stick-on tile pieces to create a textured appearance to the back of your bookcase, wine cabinet, or other surface. This idea may be a bit more costly, but may be worth it for a piece you intend to keep around for a long time.

Remember, there is no wrong way to decorate your home as long as you are happy with the end result. You can always find inexpensive shelves and small furniture pieces online for a great discount so you don’t have to worry about sprucing up your furniture, only making it your own with some decorating.

Create more space with bookcase room dividers

There are lots of great ways to get the most out of small spaces. One of my favorite decorating tips is using bookshelves to create room dividers and separate existing spaces into multiple areas. With the addition of a sturdy shelf, a living room can become a sitting room and a home office… or a foyer… or even a breakfast nook! I love this trick because you can renovate your home without the high cost of building or re-decorating. It’s a great way to make apartments, condos and flats a little more homey, too.

The right shelf

  • Open shelves: Open bookcases are a great way to to separate a room while maintaining a constant flow throughout the space. Utilize one or two bookshelves with open backs to separate living spaces. Once you add books and decor, the space fills out without a solid separation. This is great is you have a flat or one-room apartment because you can create specific spaces without making the area feel too small.
  • Multiple shelves: Think your space is too big for one shelf to do the trick? Utilize multiple shelves to get the look — and it doesn’t have to be the same shelf! Find a style that comes in multiple models or sizes and use them together. One tall shelf and one waist-high shelf creates a great divider in larger rooms.
  • Floor to ceiling: If you want to completely divide a space for privacy, use a floor-to-ceiling shelf. This option is best for small apartments. Create a closed off bedroom, or even create a faux “walk-in” closet behind the bed with one of these large shelves.


Double Duty Shelves – A Dorm Room Must Have

Sure you’ve got plenty of books to store, but when it comes to decorating a dorm or apartment having furniture that can do double duty is a must! Bookshelves are a versatile storage choice that make it easy to find furniture that has two functions in one.

Madison 6 Section Storage Rack - Rolling

Madison 6 Section Storage Rack – Rolling

Shelving that is easy to move, like the Madison 6 Section Storage Rack – Rolling makes it easy to rearrange furniture. That means this shelf can be placed at the foot of the bed one day and used as a room divider the next.

Make your nightstand into a bookshelf as well and you’ll always have required reading close at hand. The Modlife Lucerne Modular Shelf has a compact design that allows this shelf to grow with your book collection, but is also compact enough to use as a nightstand.

Add visual interest to any room with the 4-Tier A-Frame Shelf. This shelf is the perfect place to store books or display photos. The open design gives this bookshelf an airy feel, perfect for a smaller room where you don’t want to have heavy pieces of furniture to take over the room. This short bookshelf can also be used for media storage, simply place a flat screen TV on the top shelf!

Need a place to toss your keys by the front door? Add the X-Text Bookcase to the entryway and use the top as an entry table while the shelves below can be used to store books. With a modern, streamlined look this shelf is another light and airy option ideal for a compact space.

Bookshelves aren’t just for books. A shelf with built in baskets like the 4 Basket Storage Shelf provides concealed storage that comes in handy everywhere from the living room to the bathroom.

Any one of these shelves would be a great choice for adding storage to any space. Visit our back to school shopping guide for more dorm room essentials.

Get Your Books Under Control

Getting my home neat and organized can be quite a challenge sometimes. My wife is a professor of literature at the local university, which is a livelihood that requires owning a huge collection of books. For those that do not know, a large collection of books ends up taking a lot of space in the home. If they are not organized well, they can make an otherwise tidy space look extremely cluttered.  Therefore I knew that the wife and I would need to invest in a couple of very reliable, very sturdy bookcases to store all of the literature we have collected over the years.

Acadian Collection 9 Cube Storage Shelf

Acadian Collection 9 Cube Storage Shelf

Books are extremely heavy, so a flimsy bookcase made from particle board just will not do the trick. The best bookcase we were able to find is the Acadian Collection 9 Cube Storage Shelf. This shelf is made from solid pine wood and has a “cube” style storage system, which adds support to every shelf. The shelves do not sag under the heavy weight of the hardcover books.

After we filled that cube storage shelf up, we discovered that we had a need for another bookcase. This time we looked for something a little more traditionally designed. The Hampton Bookcase 36 x 36fit that need to a “T”. This bookcase has three adjustable shelves, which provide plenty of room for us to store the rest of the books. Then we were able to arrange the shelves in a way that provides us with excellent storage for our vinyl records on the bottom shelf, and CDs on the top shelf. Another excellent feature about this bookcase is that it is made in the United States!

Hampton Bookcase 36 x 36

Hampton Bookcase 36 x 36

Both of these bookcases are great compliments to our living room, providing excellent storage for books, music and more. As an added bonus these shelves have attractive style, so they add a touch of décor to the home.

Shelves Cool Enough For Batman

My favorite cartoon character of all time is the amazing Batman. I love his story; Billionaire philanthropist witnesses the murder of his own parents, vows revenge and takes to the streets to fight crime in spandex and chest plates. I love the Batmobile, the way it looks just like a bat when it soars down the street. I love the way Batman’s mask has those little pointy ear things, I love his logo. Basically Batman is my hero and I try to make everything in my home look like Batman.

wall-mounted 185 DVD storage shelf rack

wall-mounted 185 DVD storage shelf rack

The other day I was surfing the web when I came to, and found the most amazing DVD rack I had ever seen. It had great storage, a modern design, yadda yadda, but what was really impressive to me about the design was the way it looked like Batman. Ok, I have to admit I was already looking for a new place to store my vast collection of Batman DVD’s, but it was really the design that caught my eye.  Did I mention my Batman DVD’s ? I should probably mention my Batman DVD’s. Well I have just got my hands on the largest collection of Batman DVD’s in the world, and it has every single movie (185 total!) that has to do with Batman, plus a bunch of them in other languages too! Now I am a proud owner of Batman & Robin (Special Limited Russian Edition). This wall mounted 185 DVD storage shelf rack was the perfect piece for my Batman themed home!
Anyways, the front of this media stand has two long, swooping curved poles that come to a point at the top, kind of like on his mask where those little pointy things are! The sleek black metal shelves really bring out the Batman motif, and because it is wall mounted, I never have to worry about it falling!

Storage Shelf On Wheels – A Teacher’s Helper

My best friend is a teacher at an elementary school, and being an instructor she comes across lots of new, innovative storage options and every kind of storage shelf you could think of. She just loves showing me all of her new favorite organizational tools, in the hopes that I will blog about it here on Shelves Blog (and make sure it mentions her, of course). Being a kindergarten teacher, my friend has lots of books and toys to clean up at the end of the school day.

Storage Shelf

small rolling book truck cart

Well the latest item that she has been raving about for the last couple of weeks is this small rolling book truck cart. This incredibly simple but extremely useful bookcase features three shelves and four wheels for easy mobility. It is perfect for quickly organizing a room in seconds flat! It is made from steel, so it has excellent durability. (This, to anyone who has ever taught little ones would know, is very important!)

When clean up time rolls around (like it tends to do every day) it is a simple task to roll this storage shelf from one end of the room to another and pick up all the tiny little messes the children leave. Hardcover picture books go on one shelf, Legos and other toys on the second shelf, and games on the third shelf! The handles on the top of this rolling truck make it easy for anyone to push, from a full grown adult to the tiniest of elementary schoolchildren. When clean up time is finally over, my friend can just push this rolling bookcase into a corner, lock two of the casters and be on her way.

Folding Shelves Are The Solution

Folding Shelves

Folding Shelves

Last time I moved, I had all my stuff shipped freight across the whole country. After three days sleeping on a yoga mat at my old place, a week in a tiny hotel room with no kitchen and three more days on the floor in my new apartment, I was yearning for peace and comfort in familiar surroundings.

When my things finally arrived, I didn’t care that I had to unpack and organize for hours on end, I just wanted to recreate that tranquil harbor I had back in New York. Unfortunately, some things didn’t make it in one piece. I suspect they had my stuff come on a six-horse carriage over the mountains, through the rocky deserts and across a few rivers.

It took two weeks, you know. Of course, I had shipping insurance, but those guys were sly. They specifically listed all particle board items as not covered due to “inherent weakness of materials.” That took care of my now three-legged computer desk, my cracked entryway table and my two bookcases, which were completely destroyed.

So much for getting a break on shipping costs.

I was mostly devastated about the bookshelves, because they had tons of storage space and once looked pretty sleek. I soon realized that I was definitely going to move out of this always cold and damp apartment in no more than a year, so I needed to find a solution to the moving issue once and for all.

I did some research and decided to opt for collapsible furniture made of solid wood. While big wooden dining tables, armoires and futons would generally cost an arm and a leg, things like folding shelves were refreshingly affordable at Stacks and Stacks and still looked like a million bucks. I now appreciate the ease with which I can rearrange my living room without having to ask anybody for help. I also love the fact that I finally have some quality pieces to my name. Last but not least, when the time comes to move again, the experience will be a lot more pleasant.

The 4000 Pound Elephant in the Kitchen.

If you’re like me, you have a heavy-duty kitchen, ready for all recipes, dishes and situations, with plenty of room for prep and lots of pots and pans. It’s a busy environment with plenty of need for some tough, REALLY tough shelves. Well, I’ll give you some sage advice: invest in the toughest shelves you can afford. The tougher the better. Because your kitchen is going to become a whirlwind tornado of activity and bowls and splattering of food and cans and boxes of raw material (if you cook at home). And equipment, lord knows you’re going to need shelves for your kitchen equipment. Well, that equipment is heavy, so you’re going to need the best, and the toughest. How about a wire shelving unit that can handle 4000 pounds? That’s right, 4000. Four THOUSAND.

This Heavy Gauge Shelving Kit – 4000 lb. Capacity is a triumph. I found it over at while looking for new and innovated shelves. Mission accomplished. It holds 800 lbs (evenly distributed) per shelf! This Shelf Unit is tougher than anything I’ve found in a Garage Shelf, or a Closet Shelf, or a Wall Shelf, or even a Bookshelf. It’s one tough customer. But wait, now that I think about it, it COULD work for them as well! The metal shelves would be great for the garage for tools and paint cans, pitch-perfect in the pantry, and lovely in the living room for your tv and dvds! Each kit comes with five 18″D wire shelves, which are fully height adjustable, and four 72″ poles. 4000 pounds. Man alive, that’s a tough shelving system.

The Heavy Gauge Shelving Kit – 4000 lb. Capacity. Highest Possible Recommendation.

Gorgeous, Timeless Bookcase Cabinet Combo

Sometimes a shelving solution will come along that covers all the bases, and takes home furnishings to a new level. A shelving cabinet that elevates the field. Eye-catching, ornate, and classic. Functional, durable, delightful. Timeless. Take a closer look at the Bookcase Cabinet from the Mount View Office Collection, and imagine your home or place of business with this incredible cabinet up against the wall.

Created by Kathy Ireland Home, an innovative company headed by Kathy Ireland, the case features the traditional look of an old-fashioned four-door cabinet, awash in a cherry veneer. Solid cherry wood doors obscure and protect the spacious interior of this amazing cabinet, while tough MDF construction overall means this bookcase is dependable, sturdy, and long lasting.

The Cabinet is perfect for the den, the hallway, or the office. It complements a décor that is tasteful, elegant, and cultured. It’s adjustable inner shelf is hidden within, pitch-perfect for all your notable collectibles such as rare books, personal memories within treasured photo albums, knick knacks, and vases. The exterior middle shelf is exposed and terrific for items that not only need to be organized, but add to the overall style and tone of your home or office décor.

I had the pleasure of finding Miss Ireland at a trade show recently. I told her how excited I was about Kathy Ireland Home, an environmentally sensitive company committed to outstanding style, quality and service. I know that Kathy Ireland Home uses only superior materials, experienced craftsmanship, innovative designs, and she is obsessive about the high quality of her products. I was overjoyed to speak with her, as my chief obsession is shelves and shelving solutions. Clearly, we have a lot in common.  Moments after I introduced myself, we were photographed together:

I began to tell her about ShevlesBlog, and what we hope to accomplish with the site: to bring interesting shelving solutions to the public, spotlighting specific products of note, and featuring the cutting edge of shelf technology. I hoped that perhaps one day she might appear as a guest blogger, or co-editor. Unfortunately she was late for a vendor meeting. She wished me luck with the site, and shook my hand goodbye.

Kathy Ireland Home products prove that Quality is not a trend, it’s a Revolution. If you like what you see in the Mount View Office Bookcase Cabinet, you might want to consider the entire Kathy Ireland Home line from our friends at STACKS AND STACKS. Highly Recommended.