make me pretty – almost “built in” bookcases

January 6, 2015

I was just researching all the ways to make our Ikea Billy bookcases look “built in” when I stumbled across these beauties at the thrift store. OK, so they aren’t exactly beauty’s yet but they are solid wood and the price was right. So forget the Billy’s, they weren’t a good color anyway, I’m going to bring home these guys and paint them.


I decided to use chalk paint because I didn’t want to have to sand and prime these monsters. They were in really nice shape so they really didn’t need any prep. I decided to paint the inside of the shelves a contrasting color.

My Assistant

My Assistant

I just had no idea how long it would take to paint these shelves. I paint a lot of furniture, but mostly small pieces – stuff that fits in a mini-van. These shelves are big, I had to get a friend to pick them up for me on his trailer. But I listened to a book and made the best of it.

I decided to finish the job with poly instead of wax because of the amount of use I know the furniture will get. And of course, I bought new pulls for the doors. I actually got these at Home Depot, kind of surprised by some of the cute options there!

This was a big project but they really make a statement in our living room and I love looking at them every day!








  1. i have similar book cases in my living room and trying to work of the nerve to paint them, thanks for the inspiration!

  2. they look great, Karen!! I love the look of both lined up and filled with books!

  3. They turned out perfectly and they really are beautiful to look at!! Would you share which thrift stores you frequent?

    • My favorites for furniture are Diversity Thrift, Fantastik Thrift, Family Thrift Center, and the Salvation Army on Mechanicsville turnpike. There is also a really awesome estate sale that happens once a month over behind the Diamond called Overbrook Estates (you can find them and their schedule on Facebook).

      Since moving to Ashland the pickings are kind of slim but I have found some good stuff, including these bookshelves, at the Goodwill near Virginia Center Commons. Also, Class and Trash on Route 1 is awesome!

  4. Love those! How much chalk paint did it take to cover all of them? I was in Joann the other day and noticed they sell chalk paint. Have you ever tried that kind?

    • I used one full quart of Annie Sloan’s French Linen (gray) and maybe another 1/4 of a second quart. And most of one quart of Duck Egg Blue. I was kind of shocked I had to go back and get a second quart of the gray but I did two full quarts and then a touch up coat.

      I have not used the chalk paint at Joann’s. I’m not sure what brand they sell. I have tried the brand they have at Home Depot, I have made my own and I have used Ce Ce Caldwell’s Chalk and Clay paint. I think Annie Sloan is the best and actually worth the money. But Ce Ce Caldwell makes a really excellent wax that is totally non-toxic and super soft.

  5. Gorgeous, Karen!

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