Catbird Seat Bookcase Transformation DIY


Hi everyone!  I hope your Thanksgiving weekend was tremendous, relaxing and just plain old fun for you.  We had a great one, with fabulous food and movies.  On Saturday I got to take my first Viewpoints class, which is a type of movement class geared toward actors, and it was a blast!


Today I have a project that will complete our long list of bedroom projects that we’ve been working on since the summer.  Let me present the Catbird Seat Bookcase:



This was just a plain old veneer bookcase that we’ve had for several years.  I like it because it fits right under one of the windows in our bedroom, and it does provide both book storage as well as covered storage with the doors on the bottom of the bookcase.  I definitely was not in love with the brown veneer, so I decided to paint it out.



But first, a little explanation about the name of this piece.  Our cats love to look out all the windows, and this bookcase is right in front of a window that is one of their prime viewing spots into the backyard.  After they have a meal, this is one of the places where they like to go to check out the backyard and the several bird feeders that I have out there, before settling in for a long nap.  Because of this, I always think of the bookcase as the Catbird Seat, in very literal terms, so I decided to include the cats in my bookcase redo.



I wasn’t crazy about the handles that were on the doors, so they came off, the holes were filled with wood filler, along with little dings on the piece here and there, and then new holes drilled for some new knobs.  After this dried, the entire piece was given a good coat of  Zinsser Cover Stain Oil-Based Primer Stain Blocker Bond Coat, which works pretty well on veneer pieces.  After it dried, I applied 2 coats of semi-gloss acrylic latex paint from Pittsburgh Paints in the shade Fairytale, a very light green.  I used a Purdy 1 1/2-inch angle brush for primer and paint coats.  In between primer and coats of paint, I used fine grit (400) sandpaper to smooth out the surface, and then used a lightly damp cloth to wipe off all the dust.  I aged the edges just a little bit with some sand paper to expose the wood-look underneath the paint.  Then to finish it and protect the paint, I applied 1 coat of Clear Satin water-based Minwax Polycrylic protective finish to all of the bookcase’s surfaces.  I revamped the wheels by simply poking them into the parts of an egg carton that stick out, and then I just used a Krylon paint pen in black to quickly and easily paint them.  After they dried, I gave them a light coat of polycrylic, making sure to rotate the wheels every so often as it dried to ensure that the wheels would still roll freely.  I always wear disposable gloves when I paint, but I highly recommend it for the primer and the paint pen, both of which are oil-based and a lot tougher to get off skin.


I wanted to do something fun with the door fronts, and so I used Martha Stewart specialty metallic paint in the shade Vintage Gold.  I am using light green and gold because it goes with the colors in our bedroom wallpaper, and I just like those colors.  I first painted the door fronts in the light green Fairytale, let it dry, and then topped it with just one coat of Vintage Gold.  After it dried, I took 400 grit sandpaper and sanded all over the top, to make it look more distressed and to help expose some of that light green under the gold.  After wiping away all the dust, it also got a coat of the Polycrylic.



Next was the top.  I thought about doing a transfer, but in the end I decided to decoupage an image on top.  I found a really cute one that reflected my catbird seat theme from The Graphics Fairy!



I thought this picture with the little birds on the seashell was teriffic!


The final “jewelry” for this bookcase are the light green glass door knobs–I just love colored glass doorknobs!  I found these at a local treasure trove of vintage fixtures called Hippo Hardware, and we paid $6 per knob.



I am grooving on the contrast between the distressed gold and the light green of the glass :)


I love the Catbird Seat Bookcase now, and all of the cats approve of it as well.




Do you like the new and improved Catbird Seat Bookcase?   Are you working on a furniture redo?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments, so stop by for a visit!


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Till next time, 


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About AthenaMG

Athena McElrath is a Master Gardener with a love for gardening, decorating and cooking inexpensively. She enjoys working out in her urban garden in Southwest Washington State, watching the hummingbirds and other birds and insects, eating the wonderful vegetables, fruits and herbs that she produces from her garden, and just having a great time hanging out under the pergola with her family and friends (that is, whenever it stops raining long enough).
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9 Responses to Catbird Seat Bookcase Transformation DIY

  1. Anne says:

    Great job! Love the image – it’s the perfect touch!!

    Have a fabulous week xox

  2. Suzan says:

    I love this Athena!!! I have NEVER decoupaged a thing in my life, can you believe that?
    Have a project upcoming and want to try it on that!
    Great job!

  3. Great transformation. Especially love the finish on the doors! My most recent makeover is a china cabinet:
    Have multiple projects going on now. Makeovers are so fun.

  4. cassie says:

    how sweet are those birdies on top!!! LOVE them!

  5. Great transformation!