I like books. Got the bookcases to prove it.


Exhibit A                                                    Exhibit B                                     Exhibits C and D


My father made a small bookcase in his 1945 high school shop class. Its current use is a sort of junky TBR, WIP, odd-research holding area for books and other media that I need nearby when working.

Functional but not gorgeous, it needed to be hidden. I wanted something that would:

  • Preserve the décor of the room
  • Cover the bookcase but allow access
  • Wouldn’t break the bank (I’m cheap)

Hmmm…what to do, what to do…

A folding screen! That would do the job nicely.

So, screen-shopping I went.

Finding one was a lot harder than it sounds because of the décor-thing. Or, more precisely, my obsession with consistent décor. (read: neurosis) The ideal piece would be in deep earth tones, have a European feel with no clashy-clashy patterns, and be on the narrow but tall-side. It would have to blend in. You know, nice but not obvious. And definitely not flimsy-looking.

I finally found one that was perfect. It was the right color and  size, and looked like it matched the rest of my house.

Did I say ‘perfect’? Make that ‘almost perfect’. (cue image of Erica clutching her throat to stop gagging at the $645 price tag)

$645? No way.

But at least now I had a model of what I really wanted, and the head-gears — fueled by cheapness — started whirling.


How I did it for about a hundred bucks.


What is a screen but two sets of bi-fold closet doors, people? Yes! The more plain and light-weight the better. $60, Home Depot. Actually, I had these left over from a house we built so they were kinda laying around the garage. (Don’t ask about our garage.)

With the base of the project in place, figuring out the rest was easy. To make the slick wood of the doors appear rustic and to give the surface some heavy-duty texture and depth, I slathered on a layer of Spackle and roughly smoothed it with a putty scraper. Let dry, repeat. The lines of the rectangles were taped-off before each Spackle application, and the tape was removed immediately after, prior to drying. $15. Wal Mart.

I used several colors of leftover current wall paint (no better way to match existing décor, right?), and purchased a small can each of black flat wall paint and metallic gold paint. The trick was to apply a deeper base color, let it dry, then apply a different color (watered down), and wipe it off lightly with a wet cloth. The second, third, etc. colors hung in the nooks and crannies of the rough surface. This is where the black and gold paints came in handy. I applied probably six or seven coats. I painted and swiped until I got the right effect, and then painted in the solid gold outlines of the rectangles. Three coats of satin acrylic (from my *sigh* garage) hardened the finish. $25. Home Depot.

Next, the hinges. Six of them, along with those little plastic slider-thingies that nail under each door and allow you to move the whole contraption. The hinges were originally bright, shiny gold and on sale. I remedied the shiny situation by applying very watered-down black paint and then dabbed it off with a wet sponge. $8. Wal Mart.

All that remained was to screw in the hinges, tap in the sliders, stand it upright, and admire.

The best part? I returned to the $645 screen and compared it to my creation. Apart from the few raised appliqués on the pricey one, they looked identical. In all honesty, I liked my plain one more.

Next up, what else? More bookcases. There’s a stack of wood shelving planks in our *ahem* amazing garage that’s beckoning. I’m planning on making a set of waist-high bookcases with a flat-screen television that will lift from behind.

Hey, I’ve got a compound miter saw and a router, and I’m not afraid to use ‘em.

Cheap totally rocks.


If any of you guys have a cool project you’ve done and would like to share, hop in! Deet’s, links, and photos are officially begged for here. Just leave a comment below.

You can help rescue a garage. Seriously.


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2 Responses to Stuff That’s Laying Around

  1. Wonderful project! And your garage sounds like an amazing place filled with everything needed to spark the imagination… just like a book, only messier. 🙂