diy wood crate bookcase

diy wood crate bookcase

i have been pinning projects like this for as long as i’ve been on pinterest and i finally got around to it!  yay for more hours in the day in summer!

diy wood crate bookcase

 last week i shared our new chalkboard wall with you in our playroom/school room/my office/studio space.  its a space that needs to be super functional, and because of that we’ve lost a lot of the “pretty”.  i decided it was time to add that back in!

this wall used to have rain gutter bookshelves.  while i liked how they looked, i didn’t like how they functioned.  i love the look of the chalkboard wall as is, but since this is our school room, it really needed to function as more than a pretty wall displaying our world map.

we need book storage.  and lots of it.  every year our homeschool library expands.  we have never had a great bookshelf system that worked well with books of different subjects, time periods, and reading levels.  they were squeezed into what little space i could find to fit them all together and that just wasn’t working for us.

diy wood crate bookcase

i ordered these great wood crates from and got free shipping on them (free shipping with orders over $45).  our home depot doesn’t carry these crates in store, but even if they did i would probably have ordered them online anyway.  can you imagine trying to get all of these balanced on a huge cart, while my little monkey tried climbing all over them?  no thank you.  i’ll take front door delivery, thank you very much!

while the color of the natural pine is really pretty, i wanted to age the outside of the crates a bit so they would be a nice contrast to the bright colors i was going to be adding.  thankfully, i had a few small pots of minwax stain in my garage that worked great.  i used mostly walnut, mixed in a bit of ebony, and thinned it out a bit with natural.  use what you have, right?

my mom and i spent a few hours late after the kids were sleeping (its been hot here, so the evening hours are much cooler for working), staining the crates.   the process was pretty simple:  we only stained the outsides of the crate since i was painting the insides.  we also did all the edges with the stain.  we didn’t bother staining the under sides (bottoms) of the crate since they would be against the wall and never be seen.  the pine is very porous so we just used inexpensive chip brushes and wiped off the stain quickly with rags before the color set in too dark.  you really can’t mess up unless you just let it sit without wiping it.  other wise its a very forgiving process.

diy wood crate bookcase

 all the colors of paint i used were ones i found in the garage or in my craft paint piles.  i wanted a rainbow of colors, so whatever i didn’t have on hand i made by adjusting existing cans of paint with craft paints.

diy wood crate bookcase

this is a sponsored giveaway post with Proctor & Gamble and The Home Depot.  they are holding a #BountyChallenge and their only prerequisite was to use Bounty to clean up our mess.  good thing, too, because we were messy!

diy wood crate bookcase

 i am not much of a perfectionist when it comes to home projects.  i’m more of a “looks good” girl.  get’er done, you know?  so i knew mistakes would happen and thats no big deal.  i really wanted to be able to see the stained edges of the wood next to the brightly painted interior, so i had to be careful not to paint too heavily at the edges or it would run over.  and it did, but i just slightly wet a Bounty paper towel and wiped the excess paint right off!

diy wood crate bookcase

those little bottles of acrylic paint sure are messy!  i was using up the last of several bottles and had lots of paint splatters through the process.

diy wood crate bookcase

 after we finished painting all the boxes (most needed 2 coats of paint), it was time to play!

diy wood crate bookcase

 while i still had them in the garage it was fun playing with a few ideas of how to configure the boxes to work best as a bookcase.

diy wood crate bookcase

 i needed the boxes to sit both vertically and horizontally to fit the various sizes of our books.

and  i love the contrast of the bright bookcase against the dark chalkboard wall!

diy wood crate bookcase

 i filled in the shelves with all of our school books and thankfully still have room for more.  and then i moved all of the school and art supplies to the top shelves.

i love that this isn’t a fixed set of shelves, mostly because i change my mind a lot.  like i’m not sure how long i’ll be keeping the school supplies up there.  thankfully, the shelves are really sturdy stacked 2 high and weighed down by the weight of the books.  soon enough i’m sure i’ll try out the rainbow order of crates when i get bored of this!

diy wood crate bookcase

do you have a project that has been on your list for so long, but you’ve lacked the motivation to do it?  i am so with you – my list is looong!  well, here’s a little something that should be just the right motivator for you to get that project done and off your list!

Blank Doc for Picmonkey

 one winner will receive a $250 gift card from Home Depot and two rolls of Bounty paper towels to clean up the mess.  because you know you’re gonna make a mess!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

new chalkboard wall!


i have been itching to tick a couple items off my summer project list and i finally did one!


our playroom is really a multi-purpose room.  it serves as our homeschool room, our playroom, and as my office/studio/workspace.  its a decent size room with great light and tons of built-in storage.  but because it has to do so many jobs, with very little wall space, it has gotten really really cluttered.  there was a lack of beauty to let your eyes rest on, only necessary chaos.

the above picture is what our playroom looked like before.  we added the gutter bookshelves about a year ago.  they worked ok.  i loved that they made it so all of our books were facing out, making them easier to find and more likely that the kids will gravitate towards them by seeing the pretty covers.  i was able to fit a trimester’s worth of books on the 2 shelves, plus our smaller white boards.  but the books always tipped forward, and the taller books couldn’t fit on the bottom. the gutters collected dust and grime.  and the kids liked to gently pull on or lean against them, causing them to slightly pull out of the wall and sag.  so while the gutter shelves were a good theory, unfortunately they didn’t work out for us.  anyone want some gutters? ;)


i decided in the height of my busy-ness (last week of school and while packing for a trip) that now should be the time to tackle this project!  i had a sweet partner in crime, joy.  she helped me take everything off the walls: gutters, whiteboard, map, number lines, outlet covers… everything!  thne she even wiped the walls down for me!  she even likes to come over and do my dishes and wipe down my counters so yeah, she’s a keeper ;)


then we taped off all the trim, pressed really hard along the tape line to hope we didn’t get any leaks, patched all the holes, then sanded them down smooth.


i went to home depot and asked for a gallon of their cheapest flat black paint.  i also bought a carton of plaster of paris.  i painted the first coat with the black paint.  while that was drying i made some chalkboard paint.  if you add 2 tablespoons of plaster of paris (in a paste form) to 1 cup of flat paint, it makes chalkboard paint.   so i estimated how many cups of paint i had left and made a paste in a separate bowl with the plaster of paris and just enough water to make it all wet.  i would probably make it a touch more wet next time just to make mixing the paste into the paint a bit easier.  i quickly added the paste to what was left of my gallon of paint and stirred really well with a stir stick.  the paste was heavier than the paint, so i was sure to stir at the bottom quite a bit.  *side not: make sure the bowl you make the paste in gets washed out right away or the plaster of paris becomes, well, hardened plaster.

so then i painted one coat of the chalkboard paint.  even though i asked for the cheapest paint, because i was using black it had really good coverage and only needed 2 coats of paint total.  one concern of mine was losing my nice smooth texture on my walls.  our walls were originally painted with a sprayer, so there was no texture from rollers.  i used a regular nap roller, not a smooth nap, only because thats what i had on hand and it would go so much faster than using a smooth roller. *another side note: i don’t think this process would work if you have “orange peel” textured walls because the texture would show so much in the chalk.  but i could be wrong ;)


the next step to making your own chalkboard wall is called priming.  if you don’t prime then whatever image, words, whatever you write on your new surface will stay on the surface pretty much forever. you will be able to erase most of it, but not all of it.  priming the wall is super easy, but time consuming.  it took me about as long to prime as it did to paint both coats!  all you have to do is rub chalk over the entire surface of the wall.  i didn’t have any regular chalk on hand at the time so silas grabbed me the lightest colored sidewalk chalk he could find from our backyard.


as you can see, the top section of the wall was done in pink chalk, but it worked out ok in the end.


and the entire wall was chalked!  what a huge mess!  i vacuumed a couple times during the process so the chalk dust wouldn’t get ground into the carpet.


then came the erasing.  lots and lots of erasing.


erasing actually grinds the chalk dust into the surface of the paint, so it was really important that i erased until the surface appeared to be smooth again.


i erased in all different directions:  up and down, side to side, and in circles, until it was all even.  but it still had a lot of chalk dust on the surface.


next i wiped it all down again with a swiffer sweeper cloth.  actually, about 10 swiffer sweeper cloths!  i wanted the walls to be clean enough that if you leaned against the wall you wouldn’t get chalk dust all over you.  plus it was too light before and i wanted a darker wall.


now this is my homeschool room, so it has to function as such.  we have to have up a world map (plus its really pretty!), and we have to have up our very well-used white board.  but aesthetically i didn’t like the white board with the map – just too busy.  so the plan it to move the white board to another location that i am in the middle of figuring out ;)  so the map stayed and the white board will be moved.


i find chalk hard to write with, but did you know you can sharpen it with a simple pencil sharpener?  it works so well!  i also love chalk paint pens, but i really wanted the look of chalk this time.


my sister was visiting, so i enlisted her help in decorating the wall.  we decided to do a simple frame around the map, with a banner above.  we didn’t measure a thing, just eyeballed it all, using the yard stick only as a straight edge for drawing our lines.


we were definitely not perfectionist about the process, and kept adding layers as we went.  we did a bit of sketching on paper before we started, but strayed a bit as we went.  it was a really fun process!


after we hung the map back up the wall we decided to add a little more to the frame.


just an extra thin border and some angled lines.


then came the banner above.  i was leaning in the direction of something with arrows, but my sister had the idea of more of a flowy ribbon to break up all the hard lines of the map and frame.  she was totally right.  but the arrows may come at another time.  thats the great thing about a chalkboard wall – i can change it whenever i want!


we made little “nails” to hold up the banner.


after practicing a bit on paper, i free handed “map of the world”.


now i have big plans to replace the gutter bookshelves, but that will have to wait for another post.  and another burst of energy.  and some free time.