Pretend Play Market from Thrift Store Bookcase
Posted By
Larissa Haynes
Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Materials Needed: 
  • Super Finish Max Extra with Blue Tip
  • Medium Spray Shelter
  • Small bookcase or similar
  • Paint of choice
  • Toy bins or wood scraps to make own
  • Sander/sandpaper
  • Miscellaneous fabric and supplies for extra, if desired

Project Steps


Oh to be a kid again, right? Today, I'm taking pretend play to a new level using a thrifted bookcase and making it into a Farmer's Market for the pint size people in our lives.

The job is literally a blast with the HomeRight Super Finish Max Extra. Follow along to see how easy it can be.

Step 1

Little did I know a recent trip to the thrift store would have me feeling like a kid again. I found a small bookcase that needed some TLC, but also piqued my interest to become something more.

While I know finding a small bookcase isn't always possible, you can use an end table, or small chest, etc., to create this pretend play market. With kid fun creations, the options are limitless.

To begin, I assessed the pros and cons of the state of the bookcase. Pros: sturdy, small, and didn't need too much work. Cons: bad paint job, damaged surfaces, and broken backing. The cons are definitely easy to fix with a bit of DIY elbow grease, which is made easy with the right tools.

Step 2

Preparing the bookcase is key to an awesome finish. In this instance, the broken backing needed to go, however, that removed the stability of it. Making kid-friendly furniture means it has to withhold little monkeys climbing and being rough.

In order to reinforce the bookcase, I used a few bits of scrap wood to build it back up. Since my goal was to create a market with tipped bins, I used 1" x 4" pieces at the back and a 1" strip at the front.

I attached my back pieces with a pocket hole joint, but you could use nails or screws from the exterior going in too.

The front pieces were attached with wood glue and brads. Just be sure to use wood plugs or wood filler to fill in the holes and any dents or hole damage that may be present.

Once all is assembled, give the bookcase a light sanding, if needed, and wipe it down so it's ready for the next step.

Step 3

Here comes the fun part...paint! I can't say enough how much I love my HomeRight tools. This Medium Spray Shelter stores flat, but pops up in seconds to afford me a project space wherever I want.

The Super Finish Max Extra paint sprayer has easily become one of my top 5 must-have tools. I can use it for paint, stain, and poly for any kind of project, not just furniture.

For this project, I'm using the black nozzle with the blue tip and a fun seconds color paint that has yet to be named. You can use any finish you like, but since kids are tough on toys, I chose to use an alkyd enamel in semi-gloss. That makes it durable and easy to wipe down and clean.

Step 4

Before spraying your project piece, practice on a piece of cardboard or scrap wood to make sure you have your flow adjusted properly and get the feel of turning the nozzle for vertical and horizontal places.

To ensure a smooth, even coat, begin your sprayer off your project, spray on it, and continue until off. This prevents build-up and runs and elicits even layers. Also, use your shoulder to move the sprayer and not so much your wrist to achieve that awesome finish we're after.

Another must-have for me is my furniture Lazy Susan. It allows me to access all sides of the furniture with a twist of my hand and makes the job go much faster. See the DIY tutorial HERE.

Step 5

Let your first coat cure. As I mentioned, I used an enamel which means the cure time is much longer (6-8 hours). Letting the paint or poly cure is the key to a durable finish.

In most instances you will need two coats of paint (and one or two coats of poly if you use that as finish). Here is my little bookcase after two coats of enamel. 

Step 6

Those times you are waiting for the paint to cure are perfect times to get creative to add the bells and whistles to your pretend market. While you can easily find small bins and such at your local store or online, I also found it simple to create my own bins from scrap wood.

For the awning, I used dowel and scrap wood as supports, while the fabrics were from my scrap stash. I added a thrifted picture frame on hinges to the side for a store sign, and sewed an apron and a few market totes for fun too.

The idea is to have as much fun with this as you like. This stand can be for a farmer's market, a sweet shoppe, a toy shop, or even as my little girl likes to pretend, an animal shelter where she fills up the bins with stuffed animals to adopt. So cute and endless ways to play!

My goal is to inspire you to give DIY a try. Having the willing spirit and tools sure does make the job a blast. If you have any questions or would like to see more of my projects, come visit me at my blog and shop, Prodigal Pieces. Until next time!

Like this project? Don't forget to pin and share! 

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