books 1The Bookcase project

Bryan and I moved in this year and this, obviously, involves combining a lot of stuff.  I have a ton of stuff, all of my art history books from college and grad school and my extensive collection of British history novels.   Bryan only had one bookcase and it was packed to the brim.  In his mind this is the way a bookcase works, it holds books.  Me being the “wonderfully artistic person” that I am, envision a bookcase as a display of a person’s treasures.  Not only does it store books but it shows off where you have lived and visited.  A bookcase tells people about your personal story.  So, this meant Bryan’s bookcase was not going to cut it and we needed bookcases.

A bookcase tells people about your personal story

A few months ago my parents were moving, “downsizing”.  Downsizing hmm, that’s when I had a light bulb turn on.  If my parents were getting rid of things I knew they would be more than willing to “gift” me a few things. If you have been reading our posts, you already know that Bryan’s house was very bachelor pad and not very homey. When the bar was finally removed from the living room the first thought that came to my head was “let’s make this a library, with bookcases on either side of the fireplace and two big leather chairs”.

Me always thinking twenty steps ahead posed a question to my mother. “Hey Mom, what are you and Dad doing with these old bookcases?” “What are you going to do with them?” asked Mom with an inquisitive tone. Well, little did Mom know I had been eyeing these bookcases since she was a child.


The bookcases were acquired by my parents while they were living in Germany in the 1980’s. The bookcases were literally saved from the big bad dumpster at the Wolfgang Kaserne (American Barracks) in Hanau.  The shelves are probably from the fifties and totally looked it. Light golden oak color that did not fit into my plans for our library.  So, off we went into another project. We determined that we would strip them down and re-stain them.  If your ever taking on a refinishing project I suggest you go with paint.  It hides anything wrong with your piece and is a lot less work.  If you stain something the underlying finish has to be completely sanding off or you risk the other lighter stain showing through or the imperfections will show up.

bookcases were literally saved from the big bad dumpster at the Wolfgang Kaserne (American Barracks) in Hanau

We removed the old polyurethane with stripper and sanded down every surface of these large book shelves and finished it off with a deep color stain.  We decided not to put polycrylic on the entire piece giving it a more natural look.  However, we did put a light coat of polycrylic on the tops of the shelves to protect them and the books. I hope you can agree the bookcases are wonderful and turned Bryan’s bachelor pad with no character into an awesome library that everyone wants to spend time in.

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