I started with a plain oak bookcase. You know, the classic '90s yellow wood look? Yup. That's it. I fell in love with the rooms from the Pottery Barn Kids, but couldn't afford the bottom line.
Here's the end result (pardoning the unstaged books just stuffed in the shelves):
Here's what I learned ...
:: Spray paint is great for smooth surfaces, like metal, MDF or plastic. Not so great for heavily-grained woods like oak. After going through 3 cans and still missing the grain, I had to go and buy some blue paint to match. Painting with the paintbrush solved the problem.
:: Pre-sanding is a lot of work. A LOT. But worth doing a good job, since paint won't stick well to shiny surfaces. I tried to put my little slaves to work sanding, and they did good job for the most part, but missed a few spots. You get the picture.
:: You don't have to seal your project with Polyurethane, if you never want to dry dust your piece. If you do dry dust, I recommend going over it with some sealer, just to even out the rough spots. Take it from me, who didn't seal and now needs find a way to seal it in the room.
:: A project this size, with children to feed and life to live, takes about 4 days. Or two weeks if you do it the hard way, like I did.