Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bookcase Redo

In keeping with my plan to use what I have to decorate our new home, I chose an old bookcase as as my first project.  To say it's nothing special is a bit of an understatement.  It's a simple laminate that does it's job just fine.  Whether it came with my husband as part of the marriage or whether we bought it later is something I just don't remember.  I brought it up from the basement because I wanted a bookcase to hold books and movies for the kids next to the TV.  My preference was to have an all black bookcase to match the TV stand and the other decor I plan on putting up as I go.  And it would look great with my purple walls.  Because I need to use what I have I figured I could try something I've never attempted before: spray painting.

I wish I had researched painting laminate furniture a little more before I began.  Mostly I knew that there needed to be some prep work to get the paint to stick on properly.  Being rather impatient to just get the project going (and wanting to finish several other projects before my baby is born) I decided I could get away with just buying the Krylon paint+primer spray and call it good.  That choice ended up working out for me.

Another bit of necessary prep work was wiping the bookcase down and getting rid of this hardened glob of unidentified yuck.  

I don't know what that is or how long it's been there.  It just needed to go.  Sandpaper wasn't effective, but the blade of a butter knife chipped the glob off nicely.  I imagine that would work well for any laminate project, so long as you don't mind losing the top layer of the laminate.  It shows a little on the finished project.  You could probably get rid of the mark with a light sandpapering prior to painting, but I didn't care that much.

After the glob was off I used sandpaper to lightly scuff up the cardboard back to prep it for the white paint.

Wait...the white paint?  Yeah, I decided that just painting the whole thing black wasn't quite ambitious enough.  I figured that I would try yet another thing I hadn't ever done and put fabric on the back of the shelves (more on that later) for a little interest and contrast.  I had a mesh fabric and wanted the white to show through.  Sometimes I'm a masochist that way.

The white paint was leftover from repainting the baseboards and trim in our house.  It's a semi-gloss in the same color white that we have throughout most of the house.  The price of "free" was just right.  I also didn't bother to tape off the sides or paint primer behind the white.  I should have put on primer.  The sanding wasn't enough.  You'll see.  And, yes, I did paint the white onto the back while it was laying on my living room carpet.  Nothing dripped. :)  I did take the bookcase down to our unfinished basement before spraying.
Once the paint was dry I busted out the painter's tape and some grocery bags (can you guess which store is closest to my house?) to protect the white while I sprayed the black paint.  It took the whole can to coat all the visible surfaces.  There were a couple of places on the shelves that missed getting all the paint they needed. No pictures of the spraying process.  Sorry.  I did, however, take a picture of what happens after you take tape off a painted surface that wasn't properly primed:
See?  Big mistake to skip priming.  That white paint peeled like a sunburn.  I was forced to buy a bottle of black craft paint and pray that it matched the spray paint to do all the required touch up.  I got lucky.  I touched up the white where it had come off, then I used the craft paint hit the black spots I missed , as well as to touch up places where I got touch up white paint on it.  I really should have primed.

Once everything was dry (after three sets of touch ups...grumble) I moved on the the next frontier of I've-never-tried-this-before.  Several years ago I heard about using laundry starch to apply fabric to a wall without damaging it.  I had a large quantity of gray mesh fabric with black velvet flocking leftover from a skirt I made at least ten years ago.  It was begging to be used in a room with lavender walls.  The whole reason I spent all the time and frustration using the white paint was to best show off the mesh fabric.

So here's the procedure for putting up the fabric.  Cut the fabric to the desired size and/or shape.  Get some fabric starch.  I sent my husband to the laundry aisle at Walmart to pick it up.  Pour a little bit into a bucket to soak the fabric.
Wring out your fabric so it's still wet but not dripping.  Smooth the fabric over the area you want to cover and get rid of any air bubbles.  With the mesh I found it easier to center it and work from the middle out.  Again, no pictures of the process.  It's not hard.  I hear that fabric sometimes bubbles and assumed a mesh fabric wouldn't be so bad.  It wasn't.  The beauty part is that when you get tired of the fabric all you do is peel it off and wipe off the residue.  Your walls will be good as new.  Here's a picture of what it looks like when finished.
Mmm...fuzzy pics.  My favorite.
Yup.  I like it.
I like it a lot.
Once everything is dry you can fill up the bookcase.  I tossed a few pictures on top that I found while I was looking for my kids' books.  I have no idea (yet) what I'll do with the space on top, but this works for now.  I still have more books to get out of boxes, too.
I think it goes well with the room and the fabric adds a fun element.  Now I just need to wipe off the starch I dribbled.  Total cost for this project came to about $7.  That made me smile.


  1. It looks great Jordan! And if your painting any more laminate furniture I use a primer called Zinsser(its at home depot/lowes) It sticks wonderfully to laminates and paints easily. I can't wait to see your other projects!

    1. Thanks for the tip! I really should have thought to ask you first. :)