Before and After: A Remarkable Shelf Redo That Cost $5

published May 4, 2018
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(Image credit: Kirklands)

Hanging up some wall shelves is one of the best things you can do for a room, and even a shelf you don’t adore is a good thing to have. However, if you can take an ordinary, affordable shelving unit and transform it into something remarkable for just $5, why not?

Kahkasan Akhi of Intense Pursuits bought some basic wood and metal industrial-style shelves from Kirklands for $60, and hung them up high on their landing:

(Image credit: Intense Pursuits)

Our condo has a spacious window seat at the mid-landing on the way to the third floor. I wanted an open wall shelf overhead of the window seat, so that it can serve as a reading nook. I found an industrial style three-tiered shelf at Kirkland’s online store that I liked for the price. I hung it high enough so that someone can easily slide into the window seat without knocking their head on the shelf. But once I hung it, I realized that only the underside of the shelves were in view. And this underside is black and sort of boring to look at.

The simple solution would have been to flip the shelves over so the wooden side was visible from below, but Kahkasan did something even better.

(Image credit: Intense Pursuits)

These shelves are so cool! At first glance I though they were fancy skateboards, then I thought they were inlaid, and finally I realized that they’re just the original shelves, utterly transformed thanks to the magic of paint markers and Kahkasan’s vision and drawing talent.

It’s amazing how well the pattern and the unique hanging structure enhance each other. The shelf was lovely before its makeover, but now it’s so strange to go back and look at the unembellished shelf before—the painting totally completes the look!

Part of the beauty and charm of the painted pattern is its handmade nature. That’s not shade—the organic look of the illustration has so much personality, yet it’s so well done that it’s hard to believe it was all designed, sketched, and painted by eye. That takes some serious skill! And (well-deserved) confidence! There are process photos over on Intense Pursuits that show how it all came together:

I decided to do some doodle on the back of these shelves as you can see in the image. I used Sharpie Paint Pen to make these designs. I did it over a weekend. It should not take more than a day to complete. I did one shelf at a time. The shelf itself was about $50. The Sharpie paint markers about $5. I also used a pencil to guide me.

The shelf is available from Kirkland’s for $59.99, if you’re interested in creating something similar for your home. There’s a similar industrial-style metal and wood shelf available at Target, and comparable options on Amazon.

(Image credit: Intense Pursuits)

There are many luxurious, enviable spaces on this website, but this is a very dreamy little spot. It’s simply perfect, and I’d love to spend hours there drinking whatever’s in those mugs and reading whatever that book is. I’m so happy Kahkasan was able to take enhance this sweet nook even further with the lovely painted shelves:

I like that there is something striking about the space after the shelf was updated. I would do a different pattern—maybe add color this time—if I were to change it.

Thank you, Kahkasan Akhi and Intense Pursuits!