DIY projects

Make a bright bookshelf from an old record holder

In this clever thrift flip, Gretchen Howe – who you may know from the MasterStroke by Resene series The Do Up – creates a bespoke bookshelf from an old wooden record holder. Known as a ‘Canterbury’, record holders like this were a regular fixture in homes long before the advent of Spotify and Bluetooth speakers. While it may not be required for the same purpose today, its practical design and stacking capabilities make it an ideal piece for storing and displaying books. 

Gretchen found this record holder in a Matakana op shop and has chosen to repurpose it for her three-year-old daughter Margot’s books. Flexing her creative muscles, Gretchen decorated it simply yet effectively by gluing some large wooden beads along the top and applying a pop of fun, punchy mustard yellow using two coats of Resene Hot Toddy

Depending on your space, you can go as bright or as pared back and muted as you like, thanks to the huge selection of Resene paint colours available. If you’re not sure about which colour to choose, ask the staff at your local Resene ColorShop or use the free Ask a Resene Colour Expert. Even if you have only the vaguest idea of what you prefer, they’ll be able to help you fine-tune your selection, as well as recommend the best paint system for your project. 

Vintage pieces are generally made very well and handcrafted using quality materials. Instead of purchasing new furniture, breathing new life into old items is a fantastic option – it will not only save you money but will also reduce landfill and help you hone your creative and DIY skills. You may even be able to get the kids to help with this project, as it’s a fun and simple one that can easily be undertaken by beginners. It’s also very budget-friendly, thanks to the minimal materials required. 

Follow along with Gretchen as she creates this cool upcycled bookshelf.


Add some details

Before you begin, put down a drop cloth to protect the area you are working on from damage or spills as you work. 

Glue some wooden beads along the top edges. Gretchen sourced some cheap wooden ones and stacked them close together. Beads are readily available from craft stores around the country.


Seal the deal

As the record holder is made of wood that has been varnished, it needs to be sealed with Resene Waterborne Sureseal before you paint it. This is fast-drying and easy to apply and will help your chosen Resene topcoat to adhere effectively. 

Use a quality paintbrush to apply Resene Waterborne Sureseal thoroughly to every last nook and cranny of the record holder.


Choose your hue

Gretchen had a bright mustard colour in mind for this project and selected three Resene testpots to try out. 

The best way to test a colour is to paint it on an A2 piece of card, making sure to leave an unpainted border. This gives you a true indication of exactly how it will look.

Gretchen has tested Resene Hot Toddy, Resene Pirate Gold and Resene Noosa. She’s decided on Resene Hot Toddy, as she can’t resist the brightness of the gold hue.


Get painting!

Open the can and give your Resene paint a good stir before you begin. This mixing helps to reblend the pigments that may have separated in the can. Using a quality paintbrush, apply your topcoat evenly over the frame. 

Gretchen has chosen to use Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel. It’s a great choice for furniture and the semi-gloss finish will help the piece stand out in your home. This record holder has pull out drawers, so be sure to remove these to prime and paint them as well.  

Allow the first coat to dry, then apply your second coat. 


The golden touch

Another way to add some fun flair to your new shelf is to add different drawer pulls. Gretchen selected gold ones to complement the mustard colour of the paint. 

Use your screwdriver to make the holes if your drawers don’t already have them, then screw in two new pulls for each drawer.


Show off your books

Now it is time to pop in all your favourite books into your brand-new shelf. Kids can easily see which one they’d like to choose and you can even store a few more in the drawers. 

This upcycled piece of furniture adds a cool retro touch to your child’s room and could also double as a magazine rack – or even a record holder!

Updated May 2024: Resene Waterborne Sureseal has replaced Resene Waterborne Smooth Surface Sealer for many interior projects.

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