It’s no secret that paint can transform any piece of furniture, and this built in bookcase makeover proves -yet again – that paint is an affordable option that really makes a statement.
Thank you to my friends at General Finishes for providing the paint for this project!
Built in Bookcase Makeover: Don’t be Afraid to Paint
Let’s get to it, shall we?
Can we agree that this beautiful piece needed some updating?
Overcoming the Fear of Painting
There is a level of fear when painting built ins. I get it.
It’s a commitment.
What if you don’t like it? Or worse, what if you mess up and ruin it?
I understand. Painting built-ins is not the same as painting the free furniture pieces you buy at the thrift store or find on the side of the road.
But, with some determination, hard work, and the right tools, you can get professional results on a DIY budget. Using the right paint is key! It may also help to practice on a smaller piece before you tackle larger areas.
I am so glad my sister was brave enough to give it a go. Granted, she had just purchased and moved into this house a few months prior, so she was in no way attached to the finish, which makes it much easier to pull out the paint brush.
Much better right? Doesn’t it look professional?
The desk top and hardware remained the same color. The yellow actually looks great in small doses. You can actually see and appreciate the chair now!
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- 1 coat of General Finishes Stain Blocker
- 3 coats of General Finishes Driftwood
- 2 coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat
- Fine Grid Sand Paper
- Foam Brushes and rollers
Built in Bookcase Makeover
Step 1: Lightly sand the entire piece and apply the stain blocker
This product is a primer and it helps to seal the wood, keeping it from bleeding through over time. If you are on a budget, you can probably skip this step, because the paint on its own is pretty amazing in terms of coverage. However, if you are covering very dark wood or knotty wood I would definitely use it!
Step 2: Apply 2-3 coats of the paint color of choice
The beautiful color used for this built in bookcase makeover is called driftwood, which is a dark grey shade. My sister used foam brushes and foam rollers to apply. It dries fast, which is a blessing and a curse. You can apply multiple coats quickly, but you also have to be on your toes and fix any drippings as soon as they happen. My favorite thing about it is that it dries without brush marks.
Step 3: Apply 2-3 coats of high performance top coat
Warning: DO NOT skip the top coat. You will be so tired and cranky after all the painting that you will be tempted to bag it.
Trust me. Don’t.
It will protect the piece and it give it that smooth shine. One of my favorite things to do after it’s all dry is run my hands across the surface. So smooth.
General Finishes carries a flat finish too, if you like less of a sheen.
Tips for getting the best results on your top coat
- Apply at least two coats (preferably 3). I’m telling you, it’s worth it!
- Use a foam brush and brush it on fairly thick in only one direction.
- Wait for it to dry completely(2-3 hours), then lightly sand before applying the next coat.
It is a long, tedious process but you will love the result in the end!
If you have been following the blog for a while, you know I am a huge fan of this paint. I love using it on old pieces of furniture or new pieces I build. After using it on my master bedroom armoire , my mudroom bench, my oak bench, just to name a few, I knew it would be perfect for the built-ins!
Are you ready to tackle your project?
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This Post Has 15 Comments
Great job Janice! Painting my built-ins is on my list for 2018.
Thank you, Lisa! I am sure they’ll turn out great, just like everything you paint!
Wow, its amazing how much paint can really update something. Your bookcases look great now, great job.
I love this project you did here, it’s fabulous. Have a safe New Year Eve.
Thank you! Happy new year to you as well, Ivory!
beautiful bookcase, what is the color on the front of the bookcase?
Hi Julie, the color is driftwood by General Finishes. It’s linked in the post. The book case is all the same color. The pictures make the inside look a little darker but it’s all the same. I’m glad you liked it!
Looks great! Would I use the TOP COAT on white as well? (when I followed link, it said it could cause yellowing on white paint)
Hi Jenny! You bring up a really good point! White is a different story. GF has some good options though! Check out what they recommend.
I have a built in bookshelve/cabinet in a family room that is stained dark with a gel stain. Was wondering about painting just the lower cabinets an off white and leaving the shelving above the dark stain. The shelving shows to painted wall behind that is a light greige color.
Thoughts on how that would look?
Will you send me some photos so I can take a look?
Would you recommend a quart or a gallon for a project of similar size to this bookshelf project?
Hi Stacie, I think we used 2-3 quarts for this project.
Thank you 🙂