Repurposed Shutter Project with Donna Kauffman

There are so many things you can do with old, weathered shutters! They make great wall hangings for everything from note boards, to card, or magazine holders. Attach a few clips and make a great organizer. Box four shutters together, add a top, and make a small table. Or take a row of full size shutters and line them up on the wall behind your bed to create a unique headboard. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination!

To research my new book series, The Bachelors of Blueberry Cove, I spent a lot of time on the coast of Maine doing research, and I knew I wanted to find a way to bring a bit of that seashore feel into my personal space. I decided to start by repurposing shutters to create a small shelf and towel rack for my bathroom. It’s easy! Trust me, I am no DIY pro. If I can do this, anyone can!

Step 1: Find the perfect pair of shutters for your project. Try flea markets, antique shops, or browse online. I found my pair of vintage cherrywood louvered shutters on Etsy. (Thanks, Rose from Rosebuds Originals!)

Step 2: Use a screw driver, or if you’re brave and can handle power tools, that makes things go much faster. (Me, I have to keep the local EMT’s on speed dial every time I use a tool that gets plugged in, so I opt for the old school method whenever possible! Although, to be fair, there are some really cute EMT’s out there, so use your own judgment!) Remove hardware from back of the two shutter panels, as well as any that may still be attached to the side. Leave the louvers intact. Removing knobs or handles is optional. (Mine was too rusted and warped to take out.) Set aside removed hardware and the screws.

Step 3: Paint the wood in your chosen color. If the wood is lacquered or has some other sealant on it, you may need to sand it down, or use gesso to create a new base. I chose acrylic water based paint made for wood. I wanted a seashore look, so I went with Deco Art’s Spa Blue.

Step 4: Use a combination of foam brushes and smaller detail brushes and make sure you get in all the nooks and crannies. Paint front and back. Move louvers as the paint dries so they don’t get stuck in one position. Check all angles with louvers in full range of motion to catch any missed spots. Let dry.

Step 5: Reattach the hinges removed from the back, only attach them sideways. This keeps the shutters neatly side by side, but also prevents them from folding. Attach the hardware for hanging at this point as well.

Step 6: Pick out a shelf. You can use so many different things as shelves, other than standard finished or unfinished wood shelving. Old signs, picture frames, use your imagination! I chose an old, weathered, natural wood cutting block. It was a bit heavier than I’d have liked, so I used stronger hardware for hanging the entire unit.

Step 7: I also had to use stronger hardware to attach the shelf. I wanted to use something more decorative, perhaps vintage wrought iron, but all the pieces I found were too big. So I settled for brass L brackets. The brass will tarnish over time to a nice, dark patina. Line up the shelf, then line up the brackets making sure they are level. I attached my shelf so that I could still maneuver the louvers if desired. Mark the spots through the drill holes with pencil, then attach to the bottom of the shelf first, then the shutters. Attach the two outside brackets to the shutters first, then the central two.

Step 8: Now it’s time to decorate! I found some old glass apothecary style bottles, an old wire candleholder, a hanging hook, and a vintage brass drawer pull. I will be using this as bathroom décor, so the handle and hook were perfect for hanging hand towels. To bring in my seashore theme, I tied a starfish shell to the slats using raffia.

Then I added shells and seaside potpourri to the candleholder, some sand and shells to the apothecary jars. I even found a small air plant at my local nursery and planted it in a larger seashell.

Another repurpose idea! A fun thing to do is find vintage drawer knobs and dress up the cork stoppers in your apothecary bottles!

And voila! You did it!

My last step will be finding old towel rings, or a small rack to attach under the shelf for larger towels. Still searching! In the meantime, I’ve rolled up some matching towels under the shelf to keep my unit propped up until I’ve finished the rest of my bathroom renovation. I hope this inspires you to look at old things in clever new ways. Have fun!

Download Instructions with Photos