Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sapien case and MASKS!!! Before and after pictures!

I've long appreciated the benefits of the Sapien bookcase. With its flat, many shelves, lots of books can be stored on it. Plus, it fits just about anywhere, providing lots of vertical space while not taking up much horizontal.

Problem is, it's pricey-- between $198 and $298 for the type of model shown above.

So, a long while back I figured out a way to make them. They're not as pretty with teeny tiny thin shelves as the metal version, but hey, it costs me about $15. I'll take that, thank you. It's a system with one back vertical post and then the shelves not only screwed in but also pinched together. It works. If there's enough of a calling, I can do a post. But trust me, it's easy.

I've had a sapien-ish shelf in a few of my (and our) last places. I build them, then move and sell them. That's the deal. I'd never finished up one, so there was no real connection to the piece.

But finally, ours in the corner (and keep in mind this baby is about 8' tall) got to me. Squashed into the corner, it had become the place to stuff things.

Yes, and a place to hide dog toys. I knew part of the issue was that the shelf did not look nice and finished, like a place to be treated well. And, well, I reached my limit with that this week.

Before, the shelf consisted of unfinished pine. Nothing wrong with that, but it just looked rudimentary.

I thought about painting it, but I did not have a big paintbrush at home and I was determined to do this project without buying anything.

So, I stained it. A deep walnut mahogany color:
Don't worry, I did have newspapers underneath. And since it's mid-project, please ignore my floors.

However, the shelf, while it looked great, did not have that umph. I needed the top of each shelf to have some sort of wow factor so that it wouldn't become a stick it spot again. I also wanted the shelf to somehow match my masks.

Getting to the masks.... I COLLECT MASKS. Yes, truly. It's an achingly slow growth, since my rules are that I have to collect them or have a friend collect them. So no ordering off of ebay or something like that. So far, I have 5. One homemade and ones from Italy, Honduras, New Orleans and the Cook Islands. They were just hanging on the wall, kind of looking unimpressive and not-thought about. You can see one of them sadly hanging on the wall if you look up at the before picture of the bookcase, above.

So, getting on with the shelf, I had to decide how to make it pop. So, I took two of my Martha Stewart sampler paints: Francesca (a dark charcoaly with a slight purple) and blueberry pie (purple) to create an eggplantish dark purple color. Keep in mind that the photo below is taken with a flash, so the purple looks much brighter than it is typically.

Yup, I painted purple on top the shelves. I've never stained AND painted before. I give my friend, Natalie, super kudos for talking about this project with me.

And then, I did something even crazier. I needed to put some sort of finish on the wood and paint to have it look glossy. Since I was doing this all indoors (and I wanted to use the bookshelf asap), I did not want to use typical enamels that would stink to high heaven or polyurethane that would require several layers. I just needed something simple.

So I used mod podge. No joke. I read that you could use it on wood! And we're not talking about finishing off a project that cost me $100s. It has purple shelves. Obviously, I was willing to experiment here. AND IT WORKED:

All that done, here is the final project. I used the rest of the purple paint and painted wood cabinet doors I had acquired from the recycle store a few months back for $1 apiece. Those are now backing for the masks, hung by the shelf.
I'm not sure if I'll keep the green banner hung there or on another wall... we'll see. I also went through our books and other things so that not every shelf has books on it. I wanted the shelf to be pretty and functional.
And here are the masks. Going clockwise, starting from the yellow one: New Orleans, homemade, Cook Islands, and Honduras. Italy is currently broken and needs to be fixed before it is put up.

I cannot tell you how happy these projects make me. That corner of the house is so much cleaner and nice. The bookshelf is so much more elevated in stature now-- it feels less poor student and more adult. I love it. And the fact that my masks now get more attention too is something that has needed to occur for a long time.



  1. I love how this turned out!!

  2. Thanks! I love it too. I'm so glad this corner of our home is not a clutter zone anymore!