Beautiful Bookcase Makeover

I’ve been working hard on updating my living room lately.  It is one of the most used spaces in our home and it needed some major TLC.

When I updated our office last year, two of the bookshelves found their way into my living room space.  I was struggling with what to do with them.  We talked about selling them, but we have books that needed a home.  🙂  After much thought, I decided to refinish them.  They will probably end up in our master bedroom, but for now check out the photos of this Beautiful Bookcase Makeover below.

Farmhouse Style gray and white painted bookcases.

Here is the before picture.  They definitely needed a little help and the reddish brown color wasn’t working with my home decor any longer.

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The first step was to fill in the scratches/dents using a putty knife and wood filler.  Then I lightly sanded all the surfaces with a medium grit sanding sponge.  I like using a sanding sponge, it makes the job easier.

Next, I wiped them completely down with a damp cloth and then wiped them a second time with Mineral Spirits to make sure they were dust free.  You can also use liquid TSP to clean them, I just used what I had on hand.


I quickly primed them with Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer with a brush.  This primer is thick, so I didn’t bother to try it in my sprayer.

I knew this was going to be a big project, so I decided to use my Wagner Control Spray Max for the painting.  I used this same sprayer to stain my deck.   The paint color is Behr Snowy Pine in Satin.  I did thin the paint, adding 1/2 – 1 cup of water per gallon, until it was the right consistency.  Then I strained it and added it to the sprayer.  I tested it on cardboard to make sure the finish was smooth.

I did about 5 very thin coats with the sprayer.  For durability I coated the shelves with 2 coats of Polycrylic.  If you’d like more detail on using a paint sprayer go to this post.


I let the bookcases cure for about a month before placing anything on them.  Then I measured the height and width of each shelf space and cut foam board with a utility knife to fit.  Be sure to use a cutting mat or thick cardboard.  Using spray adhesive, I attached the fabric to the foam board and tapped the pieces in place on the bookcases.

DIY, Home-Beautiful Bookcase Makeover, Painted Bookshelf, Styled Shelves, Fabric Backing, Refreshed Bookcase, Upgrade Bookcase

Here are some close up pictures for the detail.

Fabric backing on white bookshelves.

DIY, Home-Beautiful Bookcase Makeover, Painted Bookshelf, Styled Shelves, Fabric Backing, Refreshed Bookcase, Upgrade Bookcase

The cut file for the basket verse at the top of the bookcase is available for free, just subscribe to receive the password.  Then go to this page and enter it.

Farmhouse Style gray and white painted bookcases.

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Farmhouse Style gray and white painted bookcases.

I’m really pleased with the way this Beautiful Bookcase Makeover came out.  I always feel a great sense of accomplishment when I complete a project like this.   The finish is holding up well and I’m so happy we didn’t sell them!




  1. Hello! I know this post was from a while ago, but I actually have these exact same bookcases and I’m wanting to paint them too! I want to paint the whole bookcase including the backing piece, and I was wondering if the backing will hold paint. Did you do the fabric on the back because it can’t be painted? Or that’s just what you wanted? Also how well has the paint held up? They look beautiful and I was so happy to see that these can be painted. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Julie. The paint has held up really well. The most important steps are lightly sanding the surface, cleaning it, and using a good primer. When done with the painting, add couple of coats of Polycrylic to the shelf tops. Then, let the bookcases cure for about 30 days before you add the books back on them. I covered the cheap backing, because there was a line that ran down them vertically where the cardboard was folded for the flat pack boxes. I just felt like it looked cheap. I did paint them the same way I painted the rest of the bookcases and it held up well.

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