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Want to see a free bookshelf I painted for Sonia?

Last summer, Sonia was saying she’d like another bookshelf.

Remember this free one that I did for her a few years ago?

sanded bookshelf

white painted bookshelf

Click here for lots of before, during, and after pictures of that project!

I love that bookshelf so, so much. It’s such a solid piece and has classic, beautiful lines.

painted white bookshelf

Anyway, since she’s the only child left at the other house, she’s converted one of the bedrooms into a little office for herself, and a bookshelf seemed like an important addition.

I came across a free one on Facebook Marketplace, and we all know how I like the price of $0. 😉

wood bookshelf.

So, we went to pick it up in my van and I started working on it.

laminate bookshelf.

This is one of those pieces of furniture that is a combo of solid wood and veneer/particleboard.

bottom of bookshelf.

But I have done enough work with pieces like that to know that it can work. Heck, the sides of my kitchen cabinets at the other house were fake wood, and those turned out just fine.

(Click here to see my painted kitchen cabinet project.)

white kitchen cabinets


I did my usual process, which you’ve seen a zillion times:

Those are Amazon links, but you should definitely look for the primer and caulk at a local store; they’re usually cheaper than Amazon. The sander is a good price at Amazon, though!

Kristen sanding.

Bookshelves are SO MUCH WORK to redo because they have tons and tons of visible surface area.

sanded bookshelf.

with fake wood, I sand just enough to take off the sheen

By comparison, a dresser is way easier! No one sees the interior parts of a dresser, so you don’t have to mess with them at all.

But every surface of a bookshelf is visible, and on a bookshelf this big, there’s a lotta labor involved in priming and painting all those surfaces.

bookshelf in a carport.

I only do one coat of primer, but it usually takes several coats of paint for the finish to be perfect, so you can imagine how many hours of painting that requires!

I also had to paint all the little brown shelf brackets. I tried spray paint first, but the color was too cool to match the Cloud White paint.

So I did a coat of the Benjamin Moore paint, using a tiny brush.

white shelf brackets.

Anyway, I did eventually get it done, and my dad and I delivered it to Sonia. It’s so heavy, there’s no way Sonia and I could have done it by ourselves!

painted bookshelf.

This shelf has a built-in light, so of course Sonia decided to fill some of her shelves with plants.

bookshelf with plant light.

And here’s how that looks without the light on.

shelf with plants.

Remember how I was saying I caulk to fill in gaps? Here’s an example…the seam on the side of this shelf looked dark once I painted.

side of bookshelf.

But once it’s caulked (and I paint over the caulk), the seam basically disappears.

side of painted bookshelf.

Considering this is a bookshelf, Sonia doesn’t have a lot of actual books in it. But that’s because all of her books are on the other bookshelf that I painted for her!


I love it when bookshelves come with a thick molding on the bottom; it makes them look so substantial.

bottom of bookshelf.

And I love it when they have the crown molding up top too.

bookshelf with crown molding.

While I was over taking pictures, Sonia wanted me to show this to you guys; it’s a little swan plant pot that I rescued from the abandoned house, and Sonia made a macrame hanger for it so she could hang it in front of one of her windows.

swan plant pot.

Anyway! Here’s what I started with.

wood bookshelf.

And here’s how it looks now.


I used supplies I’d already bought for other projects, so I don’t have a good idea of exactly how many dollars I spent on this. But I do know that it’s way less than a comparable new bookshelf would have cost.

Obviously, that’s excluding the cost of my time (!!) But I did most of the work when I wasn’t in school and wasn’t particularly busy.

And besides, I’m happy to put hours into:

  • things for my kids
  • projects that rescue and rehab unwanted items

Over the last year, I did four bookshelf projects…three for me, and one for Sonia. I dearly hope I will not lose my mind and take any more of those on anytime soon!

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Ashley S.

Wednesday 2nd of August 2023

Love the swan and macramé!


Thursday 6th of July 2023

Hello, did you ever consider chalk painting. Annie Sloan is my preference, but so easy. Did my mother in laws old veneered buffet and china cabinet with a very lite grey and very soft pink inside about 15 years ago. No sanding, no priming. It’s still looks great and with everyday use.


Thursday 6th of July 2023


I should know this from reading your many painting blog posts, but how do you apply your Ben Moore Advance? Sprayer, roller, bristle brush, or foam brush? Thank you!


Tuesday 4th of July 2023

It turned out great! I have an espresso colour bookshelf that I want to paint white but it seems so daunting without a sprayer that I keep putting it off.


Tuesday 4th of July 2023

I love the swan so much!! And the bookshelf - and the love you poured into it with all your hard work.

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