Bookcase facelift

I gave this bookcase a facelift by adding some trim and covering it with some fresh paint.

trim added to bookcase

But it started as a humble Craigslist find that used to house our kids’ toys.


I loved the dimensions of this long, low bookcase. It was perfect for keeping books and toys off the floor but still within reach. And it provided a great long surface for lamps and frames. So we snagged it off Craigslist and put it in our downstairs family room to be home to the toys.

But it wasn’t finished on the left side.


And the moveable shelves and all their metal hardware gave away its cheap price.


We have a dining room/office. I know this breaks the rules of home staging, which states that every room should have one clear purpose, and we’ll have to rearrange when we go to sell. But for now it suits the way we live. The office gets used everyday, and the room easily adapts to entertain guests when we need it to.

But this room wasn’t always so functional. It used to be home to my husband’s growing book collection (dining room/library?), and the dining table was the drop-off spot for homework, library books, and mail.  We needed storage to hold everyone’s in-boxes, a place for a few books, and some hidden storage for office supplies.

I thought briefly of buying a white cabinet configuration from Ikea, but the model I created came to about $600. It was too much for us and for this kind of room. So we moved this bookcase into the dining room, and I began to brainstorm how I could fix that left side and make it feel dining-room worthy.

I fell in love this this Josephina bookcase from Ballard Designs. The shape is completely different from my low guy, but I loved the distressed gray surrounding the white shelves. So I set out to copy this look.

Picture 1

First, I couldn’t wait to add trim around the bottom. The lines weren’t completely flat across the bottom, so I added some filler pieces so that I had a flat surface for attaching the trim. They weren’t long enough or thick enough, but, by laying them end to end in two strips, they got the job done.


Next, I attached the trim and painted the inside of the bookcase white.


After that I began to fill in all of the metal holes with paintable caulk. It was tedious, but it made the biggest difference in the overall look once it was finished. The pictures below shows what it looked like without caulk (the side in the distance) and what it looked like after one application of caulk (the side closest to the camera in the picture). I had to let it dry and apply it again before I painted it with a final coat of paint. It looks seamless now.

Before moving on to the outside, I applied a wax finish to the white shelves because I wanted our in-box baskets to slide easily without nicking up the finish. It’s holding up great to regular use.


Once I was finished with the inside, it was time to tackle the outside. I don’t have the tools to make a finished left edge to match the rest of it, so I decided to attach a corner trim to the top. It’s not ideal, but, as I try to keep reminding myself, perfection is not the goal.


I don’t have a saw to do the kind of angled cuts I needed, but my neighbor was kind enough to lend me his. He even let me set it up in our garage for a few weeks. Once I cut my pieces, I attached them with Loctite. The painter’s tape held the pieces in place while it dried. Next I primed and filled in the seams with caulk.


Finally, I painted. This was the easiest and quickest part of the process. The only hard part was being patient for five days to make sure the paint had time to cure. This is Martha Stewart’s Zinc in satin finish. It’s a great, rich-looking gray without being too dark.


I love it now. I love using what I have on hand, and this time it worked out beautifully. The color isn’t exactly like the Ballard Designs bookcase. But that’s because I also had a nice gray paint on hand, so I was able to use the rest on this bookcase. I haven’t added a glaze to the gray paint yet. I’m still on the fence as to whether I will. Let me know what you think.




11 thoughts on “Bookcase facelift

  1. Pingback: Addressing problem areas in our small bathroom | House Over Head

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  3. Michaela… this is simply Amazing!.. so clean, pure, and beautiful. I love your style and creativity…it’s going to be so fun to follow your blog. And btw, love your idea of putting a book shelf in the dining room to catch stuff..wish I had thought of that in our Lake Meadow diningroom.. the one we never went in except for holidays.. it should have been our “go to” room!

  4. Beautiful! Bill & I used to refinish furniture, & it was such a fulfilling hobby! Your family-functional bookcase looks as if it was created with prayer & love. Congratulations! ~bj

  5. Hi Michaela! This is Monet and Susanne. We are just in love with what you did here! We’re sipping on our coffee and remarking on how creative you guys are…we’ll have to all get together soon!

  6. I love it, Michaela! I’m interested in what type of wax finish you put on the shelves? I also love the two-tone paint job – white inside, gray outside – lovely.

    • Thank you! On the shelves, I used Paste Finishing Wax in natural by Minwax. It comes out of the can as a pink wax, but it dries clear and shines up nicely when you buff it by hand. It has a strong smell, so you’d want to use it on a day when you can vent the windows. It dries quickly and gives a nice protective finish.

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