Mid-Century Modern Bookshelf Turned Funky Bar

Hello Friends, I'm so excited about today's post because I'm sharing a fun furniture makeover and I have an announcement. Would you believe we picked this Mid-Century Modern Cabinet with frameless sliding glass doors for a whopping $5? It had definitely seen it's better days and nothing fancy as it is Arborite covered MDF, not my favorite material to work with. I knew immediately that I would be transforming this MCM Bookshelf Into A Funky Bar.

Mid Century Modern Bookshelf Bar Cabinet

Mid-Century Modern Bar Cabinet Makeover

...which brings me to the announcement.

A small group of blogging friends has come together to bring you a new monthly series called the Furniture Fixer-Uppers. We are a group of gals who have a passion for finding furniture that has seen it's better days and breathing new life into them so they can be enjoyed again for many years to come.

Furniture Fixer Uppers Group

I thought this would be the perfect fixer-upper furniture piece to kick off our new series.

This is what the cabinet used to look like...

Mid Century Modern Bookshelf With Frameless Sliding Glass Doors

It's hard to tell in the picture but there were a lot of knicks and scratches but the glass was in excellent shape.

Here is another look at what it looks like now...

Mid Century Modern Bookshelf Turned Bar Cabinet

Materials List

Affiliate links are included in this list for your convenience so you can find the products I used or recommend to complete this project. See my full disclosure policy.

Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer
Dynamic Dyna Patch Pro
Fusion Mineral Paint in Picket Fence
Custom Turquoise Paint 50:50 ratio of FAT Paint in My Kondos & Chalk White
Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ in Napoleonic Blue
Country Chic Chalk Paint in Orangesicle
Chevron Frog Tape
Dixie Belle Paint Company Clear Coat
Small Foam Rollers
Sharpie Gold Metallic Pen
150 grit and 220 grit sandpaper
Tack Cloth

Step 1 Prepping the cabinet for paint

In order to give the paint some bite, rough the Arborite finish with 180 grit sandpaper. Remove the dust with a clean wet rag. Patch any knicks with filler (my go-to patch compound is Dynamic Dyna Patch Pro because it doesn't shrink) and sand smooth once dry. Next, brush one coat of Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer on the exterior of the cabinet. I used this on my kitchen cabinets a few years ago and the paint has held up beautifully.

Step 2 Painting the Cabinet

Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet painted white

Remove the legs and brush them with the same paint as the cabinet. I used dense styrofoam to poke the threads on the legs into to hold them while the paint dried (sorry, I forgot to take a photo).

Using a small foam roller, apply three coats of Fusion Mineral Paint in the color Picket Fence, sanding between coats with 220 grit sandpaper and wiping the dust with a tack cloth.

Tip 1: The mineral paint rolled on much better if I sprayed the foam roller to keep it slightly damp.

Tip 2: Avoid rolling mineral paint twice in the same area while wet.

Step 3 Applying Chevron stripes onto the backboard

MCM Bar Cabinet taped for chevron stripes

Remove the backboard from the cabinet and give it a good clean with soap and water. Roll three coats of Picket Fence Fusion Mineral paint, sanding between coats.

Once dry, mark the center with a pencil on each side. Apply the first strip of Chevron Frog Tape along the center of the board, making sure the center of the tape is lined up with the center marks on the board.

Next, simply line up pieces of Chevron Frog Tape across the entire backboard (as pictured above).

Tip: To avoid paint bleed, rub your fingers along the edges of the tape for a tight seal.

It's hard to see in the photo above but I labeled each tape stripe with the designated paint color. Every second row will be the white painted backboard color.

Step 4 Painting the chevron stripes

Paint colors for Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet

Tip: Slowly and carefully pull the Chevron Frog Tape at a 45° angle away from the fresh paint. 

Working with the orange color first, carefully remove the strands of tape marked orange. Note that you may have to reseal the edges of the tape. Roll one coat of orange paint and wait until it dries before applying the next coat. Mine took two coats for full coverage. 

Repeat the same step by removing the tape strands marked turquoise. Be careful not to run the roller over the orange painted stripes. Repeat for the tape marked dark blue (see photo below).

Carefully remove the remaining strands of tape.

Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet Painted Chevron Stripes

Step 5 Adding Gold Metallic stripes

Metallic Gold Stripes on Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet
I wanted to add a gold border onto the stripes to echo the metal feet on the tapered legs.

Attempt #1 was using gold gilding wax and a small art brush to apply the gold stripes. FAIL, I struggled to get nice even stripes and the brush kept collecting globs of wax.

Attempt #2 was painting the stripes with metallic gold enamel paint and a script liner art brush. FAIL, because I wasn't getting even color distribution. Not sure if it was because the paint was gloss or that it was enamel but either way, I wasn't liking the look.

Attempt #3 was using a gold paint pen. FAIL, it worked fabulous for about two rows and then I started getting blotches of paint as the pen reloaded with paint. There's probably a technique to using paint pens, one being holding the pen upright, but no matter what I did I couldn't avoid the blotches.

Attempt #4 was using a Sharpie Gold Metallic Permanent Marker. WIN WIN WIN, it was so much easier to get nice even stripes.

Step 6 Replacing the shelf

Replacing shelf on Mid Century Modern Bookshelf Bar

The original shelf had a large gap at the back which would be fine for the cabinet's original intended purpose as a bookshelf. Repurposing it as a bar, however, would have those little bar tools or shot glasses falling through to the bottom.

Using the original shelf as a template, a new piece of MDF was cut on the table saw to a wider depth so the shelf would butt up against the backboard. Notches to accommodate the inside trim were cut using a jigsaw (as pictured above).

Step 7 Painting the shelves

As in Step 1, the shelves were lightly sanded and primed first. Then two coats of the custom Turquoise paint were rolled onto the shelves.

Step 8 Protecting the finish

With an inexpensive chip paint brush, I applied two coats of Dixie Belle Paint Company Clear Coat over all the painted surfaces.

Step 9 The finishing touches

Screw the tapered legs back on...
Tapered Legs on Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet

Install the original seamless sliding glass doors...
Mid Century Modern Bookshelf Turned Bar Cabinet with sliding glass doors

...and now for the fun part, adding the bar elements. Would you like your martini straight or on the rocks?

MCM Bookshelf Bar Cabinet Left

Perhaps a glass of wine?

Mid Century Modern Bar Cabinet Makeover Right

So what do you think of my MCM Bar Cabinet?

Mid Century Modern Bookshelf Bar Cabinet Before and After
You will find this project linked to these fabulous LINK PARTIES.

I hope you're as excited as I am to see how the talented gals in this group transformed these Fixer Upper furniture pieces... 

Before Pictures of Furniture Fixer Upper Group Makeovers



  1. I love this cabinet! It turned out great! I have a question. In this piece, did the glass doors rattle? If they did, how did you fix it? I have a similar mcm cabinet and it needs to be refinished. One of the doors rattles and I cannot find any info online on how to fix it. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Marlo, I quite enjoyed working on this piece. I did this makeover a few years ago but I don't recall having an issue with the door glass rattling. In fact, I seem to recall is was a little tight. Sorry I can't be of any help.

  2. I have this exact bookcase from my great great grandmother. I refurbished it, but cannot figure out how to put the glass doors back in. Tips and tricks??

    1. Oh no! Sorry I can't be of more help but I did this makeover five years ago and can't remember how I got the glass back in.


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