Furniture Makeover Merit Badge, Intermediate Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,050 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,044 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life …

For this week’s Make It Easy/Furniture Makeover Intermediate Level Merit Badge, I was enjoying my new, upcycled, one-of-a-kind nightstand so very much, I figured I was more than ready for the next project.

I cracked my knuckles, rolled up my sleeves, paused the latest episode of whatever was on the DIY Network, and got down to business.

To earn my Intermediate Level badge, I had to invest a minimum of 10 hours and up my game, so to speak. I needed to do two different techniques and think big.

Like … bookcase big.

I had acquired a bookcase recently because … well, do you really need a reason to acquire another bookcase? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

A room without books is like a body without a soul. ~Cicero.

Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~Steven King.

Picking five favorite books is like picking five body parts you’d most like not to lose. ~Neil Gaiman.

I’m the girl who fantasizes about being trapped in a library overnight. ~Rainbow Rowell.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think that decorating consists of building enough bookshelves. ~Anna Quindlen.

American homes and gardens, 1905, via Wikimedia Commons

This particular bookcase was well-made and sturdy (and most importantly could hold a lot of novels), but it had been painted an unfortunate shade of … well, baby poop? Is that a shade? Well, if it is, it’s not selling real well at Sherman Williams, me thinks.

I didn’t want to just paint, no sirree. I had other plans for my treasure. I had a stack of old maps from my days of collecting and subscribing to National Geographic. There was a time when I would actually use said maps to look up a country or a distance or what-have-you, but to be frank, it had been years. Before easy access Internet, I s’pose.

Claude Bernou, map, circa 1650 via Wikimedia Commons

So, the stack of maps sat in a box, and I longed to look at them once again. Lightbulb moment! A thin layer of Mod Podge (click here for a homemade version) on the backs, cut to fit (Um, reverse those two orders or you’re gonna end up with sticky hands and a colorful vocabulary. Don’t be like me.), and use the maps to “wallpaper” the inside of your shelves.

I painted the outside of the shelves and sides and tops with a pretty shade of white, then sanded it a bit to let some wood come through. I like the distressed look, but if you don’t, skip the sanding and do two coats of your paint of choice.

Make sure you do your research on what kind/type of wood your furniture is before you buy your paint. Some will need a primer, some won’t. Go for as non-toxic as possible: chalk paint is a gorgeous option. Same goes for stains and varnishes. Is your “wood” more like laminate? Never fear. Even those cheap-looking versions can be reclaimed and made to look good as new (or old, if you’re a vintage lover). Just use an oil-based primer first.

And a helpful note from me to you: Crack the windows if you’re painting inside, okay? Some fumes will give you quite the woozy feeling. If you start painting the walls tie-dye and find yourself humming some Grateful Dead, you may need a break.




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a clever idea and way to use something vintage for a bookcase. It would look great for an office area or a homeschool room too. I love that 1905 graphic too. That era of style always fascinates me and draws me in for a closer look.

    • Karlyne says:

      Yes! I could positively smell those books right through the laptop!

      And I’m going to keep my eyeballs peeled for some old maps to decorate with, too.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *