This past summer, my Dad and step-mom were having a big yard sale at their house, getting rid of so many things to make their move a little lighter after selling their home they had lived in for over 20 years. I had fun looking through some things before their yard sale, and even took quite a few things they set aside for me that I had as a child…which brought back so many memories! You may recall the pineapple napkin holder that my Grandma and Grandaddy made that Dad had for sale for 50 cents (what?!). I’m glad I scooped that up when I saw it and it has been a perfect addition to our kitchen.
Another piece I picked up was this 5-tier corner shelf. My step-mom asked me if I thought I would be able to refinish it. She told me it belonged to her roommate in college years ago, and that the shelf once belonged to her mother. Well, her roommate’s mother has since passed away and she is hoping to send it back to her once it’s refinished. My step-mom, Phyllis, used the corner shelf to display her house plants and accidentally damaged the finish. Oops! Well, kudos to Phyllis because she can actually keep house plants alive…unlike me! I bet it looked nice with her plants sitting on it. Really, she wanted to achieve the same color/look the corner shelf already had, minus the damage.
The damage wasn’t too bad but there were a lot of places the finish was peeling away and had scratches from years of use. According to Phyllis, her roommate’s mother had this corner shelf since the 40’s. It was time it had a new finish anyway.
I sanded the finish off using an 80 grit sandpaper with my mouse sander. It came right off, but the hard part was sanding all the bends and curves inside the back cut-out designs. I did some of that by hand with a sanding sponge. Some of the corners of the shelf made it hard to remove the old stain. I was able to remove most of it but some of it still remained after sanding. I didn’t want to sand too deep into the corners and the new stain color was dark, so I didn’t get too particular about removing it all. I wiped it down with a damp rag after brushing the dust off, to make sure I removed any remaining sanding dust.
Since Phyllis wanted it to look close to the original color, I went with the same stain color I used on our photo ledge we built for the living room. The stain color is called English Chestnut from Minwax, and it’s a beautiful, rich brown stain. Our kids said it looked like chocolate….
I took this photo below as I was wiping on the first coat of stain with a cloth. It is a lovely color and I decided to wipe the stain on instead of brushing. With all the detailed areas and curves on the outside, I knew there could be a lot of brush strokes had I used a paint brush.
I decided to go with Minwax’s Wipe-On Poly, again, to avoid brush strokes. The Wipe-On Poly was the perfect way to apply the finishing coat! I also applied two coats of the Wipe-On Poly, lightly sanding with a 220 grit sandpaper before applying the second coat. That is what the directions call for and it definitely gives it a solid surface. I used the satin finish polyurethane, but as you can see, it still added a little luster to the finish. Very pretty!
Now that the shelf was complete, the fun part began….decorating! I was so excited, I went to Target to pick up a few accent pieces. I added a photo of a few pieces to my Instagram page, explaining that my dining table really looked like accent pieces had exploded everywhere as I was trying to decide which pieces to use to style the corner shelf.
I am so happy with the way the corner shelf turned out and had so much fun decorating it, I decided to style it three different ways just to give anyone who might have a shelf like this some ideas. I started with a simple look using some books and the accent pieces I found at Target. This one is just very clean and simple…
I also included my Grandparent’s old recipe box and a few of my favorite home decor and craft books. Have you checked out the New Cottage Style book from Better Homes and Gardens? Highly recommended, even though it’s a few years old now!
Since my husband is a musician, I thought it would be fun to try styling it with some music books and CDs. I know musicians can always use more storage space that’s easy to reach when they need something (especially when they have a guitar on their lap). This shelf is perfect for storing CDs, and if you’re anything like us, you still have plenty of CDs and vinyl records. We don’t really download music and still enjoy having it in physical form. We like to read the album covers and appreciate the artwork that comes along with them…not something you really have with digital downloads.
I hope that Phyllis’ roommate from college will be pleased with her Mom’s corner shelf once she sees it again. I can’t wait to hear all about it!
I hope you enjoyed seeing the simple, but different ways to style a tiered corner shelf! I didn’t want to overload it with accent pieces because I didn’t want to cover the detail on the back of the shelf. I thought that added so much character to the piece.
AND…thanks to this plastic succulent that made it into all three styling ideas! Seriously, $8 well spent!