Wooden electrical reel repurposed

My rustic vibe cable reel bookcase, overflowing with my books! @bijoukaleidoscope

I have been busy with life, work, children and have had my fair share of colds, sinusitis and coughs this horrid winter season. But I am determined to get back into blogging. Seems a pity to let things peter out, given this is an 11 year old blog!

So here’s getting right back into it!

I thought I’d share a DIY project that is roughly about 7 months old. This post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a while now… it’s time to let it fly!

When repurposed wooden reels surfaced on the design sphere a year ago (starting from the US), I knew I’d found a solution to something I’ve been trying to figure out for a while:

A bedside table that functions as a mini library!

I am one of those booklovers that LOVE/NEED to read before sleeping (never mind that the husband cannot sleep with ANY light in the bedroom!). And no, I don’t do Dostoyevsky or the Art of War before I sleep, like my cousin. I do trashy novels set in the Regency period. I do love them.

But the problem was that this meant my side of the bed overflowed with piles of books.

So I thought that one of these would make a perfect bedside table.

Pink wooden reel as a children's bookcase, via HGTV

Pink wooden reel as a children’s bookcase, via HGTV

White wooden book reel, via Pinterest

White wooden book reel, via Pinterest

Wooden book reel, via Crafty Lady Lindsay

Wooden book reel, via Crafty Lady Lindsay

For a while there, at the start and peak of the recycled rustic, industrial trend, it was impossible to find one on eBay and Gumtree Australia. When they appeared, they’d either be already done up and priced high, or snapped up, also with big final auction pricetags.

God answered the silent prayer (probably watching over my shoulder late at night when I’d be motivated to look through scores of eBay and Gumtree listings) when I mentioned to J, my brother in law, that I’d been wanting to create one of those reel bookcases. With casual nonchalance, he said there were normally plenty at an electrical supplies warehouse he frequents (he’s a builder). Wha-??

I turned up the next day to ask if I could have a few. Sure enough, there were plenty there just sitting outside in the elements, of all sizes. Some plastic… some wooden, some ratty, some newish and some downright useless. When a cable reel is finished, they get tossed outside in a pile. Sometimes, they are sent back to the wiring companies… sometimes they rot in the rain and become landfill.

They were more than happy for me to have “as many as I needed”, as long as I kept the space clean after. Turned out that only the few top ones were in any condition to reuse.


I got these blue ones. I thought they looked rustic.

My blue cable reels being babysat by Mr Husband @bijoukaleidoscope.com

My blue cable reels being babysat by Mr Husband

One reel wasn’t going to be enough, especially if I have thick novel books, rather than narrow/slim children’s books like those pictured above. I had planned to have two tiers anyway.

I delivered the reels, some dowels and one heavy duty lazy susan ball bearing mechanism to my other brother in law, D, to assemble.

A fortnight later, it was installed in my bedroom.

Filling up my cable reel bookcase! @bijoukaleidoscope

Filling up my cable reel bookcase!

I found that thick novels don’t get stacked neatly like children’s books do. Wide at the outside of the reel, they inadvertently taper to a narrower opening on the inside.

My bookreels stuffed to capacity despite the gaps @ bijoukaleidoscope

Stuffed to capacity, despite the gaps

The top was painted blue (I suspect, very cheaply, merely to distinguish a wiring manufacturer from the next) and was peppered with stamps and stickers. I would have preferred a “vintage” feel, but these are after all, industrial.

I thought it would be cool to introduce a few very-industrial pieces into the home (I have since had a change of mind!). So while I could have (and had a mind to) paint the entire thing one colour, I left the top as is. To prevent peeling and flaking, I brushed on a light coat of Mod Podge. (I have also since found out that since Mod Podge is an acrylic product, if I wanted to, I can paint over with acrylic paint.)

I am discovering more about myself in the process of Making Home. I have learned that the very-industrial vibe is not for me. The top is too rustic-industrial for me.

The top of my cable-reel bookcase @bijoukaleidoscope

The top of my cable-reel bookcase

I think I will paint over the entire unit. But having this by my bed is still better than piles on the floor, bed and bedside table!

My rustic vibe cable reel bookcase, overflowing with my books! @bijoukaleidoscope

My rustic vibe cable reel bookcase, overflowing with my books!

And perhaps add some funky yellow caster wheels!

Hope you enjoyed reading over that :)




The Woman behind the Blog

Welcome to my blog! It’s such a pleasure having you here.

What are you inspired by? I am inspired by beautiful and bright interiors, fabric, furniture, pinks, yellows, greens, chairs, china, trees, chocolate, peonies, hydrangeas, cherry blossoms, roses and rhubarb with cream.

Friends and family call me drey (pronounced 'dree'... short for Audrey) and I can often be found zipping through op-shops and vintage stores in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia.

Hearing from you

Write me at paperbean(AT)gmail(DOT)com