The Shack: Our Little Poconos Getaway, Thrift Store Furniture DIYs (Post #7)


Hello dear readers.  Thanks for joining me, yet again, in my renovation project at The Shack.  We’re making excellent progress on this little fixer upper in the Poconos.  While we’re working on painting and trimming everything out, I’ve been out shopping for bargains.  Since we have a whole house to furnish, I’ve been on the lookout for some interesting, and affordable, furniture pieces to use in The Shack. Bookshelves are at the top of my list!


BEFORE:  I popped into our local thrift store the other day, and found this dark wooden bookcase. It’s an Ethan Allen piece, which looks to be straight out of the 1970’s.  I paid $35.00 for it.  I know you’re probably thinking, “Why on earth would she buy that ugly thing? It’s so dark and heavy looking! And boy is it dated.” And you’re absolutely right, but it does have a few nice qualities, like the classical dentil molding at the top and the arched opening for the shelves. Plus, my husband and I both love to read and collect books, so we really need plenty of shelf space in The Shack. In fact, when we were naming our little weekend house, we considered something along the lines of ‘The Library’, but The Shack just felt right.

Right from the beginning I had decided to paint the bookcase, of course.  Light colored, painted furniture is all the rage right now, and I thought a light white, distressed finish would be just the thing to transform this bookshelf into something suitable for my little mountain house.


Process:  I started by painting the inside back of the bookcase…this was the hardest part–getting into all the nooks and crannies. I also chose to tape off the shelves (at least these ones that are stationary and not remove-able) and try leaving them in the dark wood finish. I’m pretty sure the contrast of the wood with the white paint will look great when it’s all finished, but if I change my mind, then I can always choose to paint them out later.

I opted to use Milk Paint again on this thrift store find.  I’m really loving the Miss Mustard Seed line of paints.  This time, unlike the all trim-work in the The Shack, I’m planning to apply some wax to the milk paint after it dries.  That way it will no longer have a flat matte finish.  Waxing milk paint gives the paint some depth and a little sheen.  Plus, it protects the finish from fingerprints and getting marked up over time.


Milk paint comes in powdered form. You just add water and mix it up, then paint it right on. You can play around with consistency, but in general milk paint is much thinner than regular paint. I find it almost always takes two coats, and once applied, it is super chalky, much like the popular chalk paints on the market. On unfinished wood, the water in the paint will bring up the grain and give a rustic feel, but on already finished furniture, the milk paint will sometimes crackle and give a distressed feel.  Miss Mustard Seed also offers a ‘Bonding Agent’ to use on finished wood, which helps the paint adhere better.  For this project, however, I’m totally on board with the idea of peely paint and distressing, so I did not choose to incorporate the Bonding Agent.

Miss Mustard Seed shares a ton of great information, photographs, and tutorials on her website.  You can take a peek by clicking here:


After a coat of paint on the outside of the bookcase, I used a fine grit sandpaper to distress the bookcase in key places, allowing the dark wood to show through just a little bit and highlighting the details of the molding. The dark wood contrast on the shelves really tie it all together, don’t you think?  The inside back looks just a little yellow in the photo, because I had just applied a coat of ‘Hemp Oil’ to the back panel after the paint dried.  It’s a finishing oil that soaks right into the paint and creates a nice durable top coat after you wipe it on.


One of the great things about Milk Paint, is that it sometimes chips and crackles in certain areas, lending a distressed, cottagey feel to primitive pieces. I love how the side of the bookcase is all chippy and distressed.  It gives so much character to the piece! After a light sanding, and applying a coat of wax, the milk painted finish stabilizes and will stop any future chipping.


And here’s my thrift store bookcase, all painted up and distressed, filled with books and other fun things. I just love it and think it’s the perfect thing for this rustic little corner of The Shack!  I placed it in the corner near the entry, along with some other fun items. My Dad bought me the amazing vintage typewriter (that was so thoughtful of him!) and I purchased the very cool antique Craftsman oak table that it’s sitting on at an estate sale.  And, just in case you were wondering, those are fly fishing rods in the tubes that are sticking up alongside the walking sticks in the back corner, where my husband can grab them on his way out the door to go fishing.  We store gloves and hats in the white bottomed basket located in the fore-ground.  This corner has just about everything we need for enjoying all seasons at our little mountain house in the Poconos!!

Thanks for joining me in this little DIY furniture finishing project today.  I enjoyed sharing it with you!
Until next time, make sure to like Robinson Interiors on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter, and DO stay tuned for future updates on The Shack!

Click on this image to be taken directly to my website for more information on Robinson Interiors.

Click on this image to be taken directly to my website for more information on Robinson Interiors.


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