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How To Create a New Vintage Vanity Shelf



Downsizing is an exercise in reality, trying to accommodate everything that you are use to having and fitting it all into a space that is a quarter of your previous floor plan is a mathematical challenge, a test of certainty. You just can’t fit big, old furniture into a small tailored space…..that is the absolute reality of the equation. I am drawn to old, antique furniture, anything that has a history. I love layers of paint, seeing the colors of the past history of a piece through the chipping paints of time.



A vintage piece, combined with new materials to make an up-to-date, useful piece is the ultimate recycle, re-purpose, renewal story! So let me tell you the tale of these old corbels from the 1920s. I discovered the pair at an antique market near my tiny house; I knew when I saw them that they were just what I needed to pull off a vision I had in my head for a “Vintage Vanity Shelf”. The vintage corbels were from the “exterior porch of an old house, which was being remodeled”, I was told by the antique dealer. 


The floor space in my bedroom is limited; I figured something that came off the wall would be much less intrusive than a piece of stationary furniture that stood on the floor. Although I love chippy painted details, I don’t want any old, historical, lead paint chips falling on the floor over time….. that is when chalk paint is invaluable!

For this project the tools and materials that I used are: Drill, hand miter box saw, levelstud-finder, 4inch L brackets,sanding sponge,Loctite all-purpose glue, duct tape, Bher "Swiss Coffee" semi gloss paint, Rust-oleum "Aged Gray" chalked paint and paint brushes, 3/8 decorative wood trim.


Rust-oleum Chalk finish paint requires no priming, or sanding! You can simply paint one coat on, wait a little time for it to dry, and then apply another coat if needed , It goes on thin and smooth revealing any multi- layer detail. If you choose to distress the look, take a damp cloth before the paint dries, rub it over the edges and remove corners or raised design paint to allow more details to be exposed. You can also wait until the piece is completely dry then scuff off the corners, and any details with a sanding sponge.



Step 1: I did remove all chips that were really loose and about to fall off. Next: I painted the corbels with “Aged Gray” chalked paint by Rust-oleum, the paint went on smooth and literally glue the old paint in place. 

Step2:Once the corbels were dry I used the sanding sponge and sanded the edges to allow a bit of the original, off white color, to show through.


I rescued the piece of plywood from the dumpster, a special order return… it was destined to be a window seat, but the customer change the design…to my benefit!

The angled edge of the plywood added just the dimension I needed to keep the shelf long but narrow, the deepest point of the shelf measures 14 inches in depth. 

Step 3: I painted the plywood shelf with Swiss Coffee by Behr, 2 coats.



Next: Using a stud finder, I found the studs in the wall

Step4: I then with the drill I predrilled, and hung a 4 inch “L” bracket onto the wall. Next I placed the vintage corbels, on level, right beside the “L” brackets, (still within the stud zone) then I drilled through the narrowest part of the corbels and screw them right into the wall using a 2.5 drywall screw.


Step 5:  I placed the plywood shelf across the “L” brackets and corbels, I drove a screw from the top down through the shelf into the corbels, and from the bottom to the top through “L” brackets.



Step 6: I measured and cut the detailed mill work edging with a hand saw miter box….a true test in math and measures! This step is a real struggle for me, my dyslexia steps in every time, the cut came out okay…. not as precise as I would have liked, but I want it to look old and not perfect after all! 


Step7: I glue the edging on with Loctite clear all-purpose glue; I used duct tape to hold the edge in place while it dried…. (I don’t own any clamps, it was the MacGyver in me…and it worked well, thank you Mac!)  Then another coat of Behr Swiss Coffee over everything and I let it dry for a couple of days.

My last and final step: I applied one more coat of Rust-oleum Chalk paint, and I wiped it off as I went, I just wanted to get the gray color into the detail of the edge, and into the rough grain of the plywood.


All in all I love my “New/Vintage Vanity Shelf”, It is not totally old but bits and pieces are, and the corbels have another layer of painted history to add to their coatings.


The floor space is free and unclutter and the tiny house has more holding power with a bit of history to it!  Make your own history, before you go out and buy a new piece of furniture, reclaim one…then stop by your local Home Depot, we have everything you need to refinish, and repurpose a great find!

Enjoy the hunt, savor the salvage, and produce a new beginning………Maureen



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Posted 2016-03-01T20:18:47+0000  by Maureen_HD_BOS Maureen_HD_BOS
How talented you are!  Absolutely beautiful!
Posted 2016-03-03T23:51:32+0000  by Grow2girl
Not what you were looking for ? Try posting a question