Bookshelf refresh

Ever since moving last August, I've wanted to update our Ikea Billy bookcase - we decided to keep it instead of simply replacing it because we needed the storage space for books, dvd's and Ryan's growing board game collection. But I HATED the finish, which I hadn't loved when Ryan brought it from his bachelor pad but had also discolored slightly. I also wanted to add doors, since minimizing the visual clutter would be a huge step in helping our tiny living room feel more spacious. Problem was (or fate intervening?), Ikea doesn't make the Billy or it's doors in the same finish anymore. I could only buy doors in a totally different wood color. So we had to alter the finish somehow. Here's the best "before" picture I can find, from our old apartment, when we kept it in the office...


At first I had planned to paint the shelf and doors, add some trim to the top and sides. I'd even decided to paint it tomato red - but after reading multiple accounts of how difficult it was to paint the fake wood (coats and coats of primer, multiple coats of paint...) I started thinking of other options. After finding a beautiful upholstered bookshelf (see it here), I decided to try fabric. Sure, it's a cheaper, knock-off version of a gorgeous designer shelf, but this isn't a forever piece in any form, so why not have a little fun?

I ordered 7 yards of lightweight linen (I used about 5 yards when all was said and done) and attached it with Mod Podge. Not the fanciest procedure, but very effective. I tested a scrap before ordering the fabric, of course! The real key was thin, even coats that wouldn't soak through the fabric and lots of smoothing.

Outer sides first, shelves next, then inner sides (here's an inside peek).

I even tried to add brass nailhead trim to the doors, but couldn't for the life of me get them straight so I just pried those out and skipped it. I actually like it better without I think.

(Full disclosure: the right door is hanging a little bit crooked and it's driving me CRAZY).

I got the drop pulls from Lee Valley.

I have to say, I love the way the shelf looks. It looks sophisticated and expensive in person. Friends haven't realized it's the same piece of furniture and have to go up and inspect it closely. Best of all, the corner now looks spacious with the busy dvd's and board games hidden. The only downside is that it really escalates my desire for a new sofa (the new one will be charcoal and go with the shelf much better).

What do you think? Would you ever use Mod Podge to cover a piece of cheap furniture with fabric?