Stencil your cinder blocks & create new furniture that will wow

Once the domain of sparsely appointed college dorm rooms, a cinder block bookshelf can be much more than a temporary utilitarian item. This project takes the cinder block bookshelf to the next stylish level with the ingenious use of decorative stencils, finished wooden boards, and creative block placement.
This piece doesn’t strictly have to be used as a bookshelf either. It could also be used as bedside storage for a reading lamp or a water pitcher and drinking glass. It would also work as an entry piece and landing pad for purses, phones, and other "outside world" necessities that are happily shed when you cross the threshold into your domain. There are so many stencil patterns available, you can choose whatever strikes your fancy and goes with your decor style, from Art Deco to boho.
- Four 8-by-8-by-16-inch cinder blocks
- An 8-by-8-inch square decorative stencil
- Stencil of your choice
- Painter's tape
- Small bowl
- White paint
- Bristle paintbrush, 1 inch
- Two finished wood boards, at least 1 inch thick and at least 12 inches long
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1. Lay the cinder block down on your work surface, with one of the solid sides facing up.
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2. Place one of the stencils on the left side of the cinder block surface so it’s surrounded by about a ½-inch border of the plain block all around it. Tape the stencil down with painter’s tape.
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3. Brush a coat of paint over the stencil.
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4. Remove the stencil from the block.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4, but paint the design on the area of the block that’s right next to the freshly painted section.
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6. Paint a single stencil design on one narrow end of the block.
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7. Repeat steps 2 through 6, but on the opposite solid long side of the block.
8. Repeat steps 2 through 7 on a second cinder block.
9. Lay the blocks down so that the narrow ends are facing the wall the bookshelf will be placed against and toward the room. The blocks' stenciled ends should face frontward. Their spacing will be dependent upon the length of the wooden boards you choose.
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10. Lay your first board on top of the blocks.
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11. Place two more blocks on top of the board directly above the ones below it, but stand them vertically so that one of their open ends is front-facing. These openings can be filled with knickknacks.
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12. Place the other board on top of these blocks.
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13. The bookshelf is now ready to be filled with decor accessories, books, and other display pieces.
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