I love books, (big surprise, right?) and I have always wanted to have a library. Like a really big one, à la Belle’s library in Beauty and the Beast. Obviously, I wasn’t going to get that in our little 2 bedroom apartment, but I could start. That’s when I discovered a horrible truth about this world we live in. Bookcases are expensive. Like, even the laminate, “maybe wood, maybe cardboard, maybe you should appreciate the mystery” ones. So, dreams stunted, I started my little library armed with a hand-me-down bookcase, and my collection(hoarding) of books.
When my mother-in-law told us she’d found a bookcase for our apartment, I was ecstatic.
I had been dying to do a pattern on the back of a bookcase, and this was my opportunity. My first idea was to use fabric or contact paper, but the back wasn’t removable. That sucker was solid. So I decided I’ll just paint it. Easy peasy, right? As far as a pattern, I looked around for a while, and finally found a perfect herringbone in the right colors on Pinterest.
Whether you’re painting a bookcase or wall, I highly recommend using a stencil. I really can’t stress that enough. I decided to just wing it and use masking tape. Folks, just let me tell you, that added at least 5 hours to this project. It’s still doable, but I can only imagine the guess work and measuring and effort I could have skipped out on. I will absolutely be using a stencil next time I do anything like this. With that said, I was really stinking impressed with how well the pattern ended up turning out, considering I took the hard way.
The official before picture:
So without further ado, here’s how I painted this thing:
- The best thing about this bookcase is that it was totally bare wood, which means no sanding. Yay! I started off painting the inside and the front face white.
- I quickly realized this wood was thirsty, and it was going to take quite a few coats of paint for this, so I decided it would be best to do a base coat of white over the whole thing. I put about 3 coats on the inside, and one coat on the outside.
As you must be aware, Walmart is world-renowned for their expertise in the paint industry. Buying two quarts of paint and (ultimately) one can of spray paint took roughly an hour. My plan was to get a quart of paint for the grey as well, but they were sold out of all the grey paint. Seriously, all of it. So, spray paint it was.
- Because I was using spray paint, I needed a way to cover up the beautiful white insides I had spent so long on. My solution? Cut up the remainder of my drop cloth and put that sucker to work! The process was a little convoluted, but basically I used masking tape to attach the drop cloth to the inside of the shelves.
- Spray painting was fairly easy. It was a little time consuming waiting for each layer to dry so there were no runs in the paint. I ended up using almost two cans, so make sure to grab an extra one.
- The whole process of spraying, waiting to dry, and spraying again took about 6 hours from start to finish, with most of that being waiting.
- After I got the drop cloth off, I left the whole thing to sit overnight. The next morning, I started working on building the pattern and coming up with an efficient system. To keep things as simple as possible, I made the height of the pattern the same as my masking tape. I made the length about 1/7 of the width of the backboard, so it would start and end going the same direction. If you’re using a stencil, this is obviously not a decision you would have to make. However, if you want the pattern to begin and end on different directions, you should use an even number, like 1/6 or 1/8 the width you are working with.
- This was the process I continued across the back, one row at a time. the distance between each row was too much for one width of masking tape, so I went with half.
- One this I would go back and adjust would be my masking tape. I used store brand, and a higher quality would probably have yielded better results. The paint tended to run through the tape and occasionally the tape peeled off the paint, so I had to do a lot of touch-ups along the way.
Depending on your lifestyle, how much you plan to use this, and how long you want the paint to last, you may want to add a clear coat for strength. I chose not to, and we haven’t had any chipping or peeling so far. Make sure to go back over and clean up any rough spots before calling it quits.