You guys aren’t going to believe this, but I dusted off my sander this weekend, as much as a sander can be dusted off, and painted a piece of furniture! I have to admit, it felt absolutely wonderful to crank some tunes out on the patio and lose myself in a paint project. Recently, I’ve been working on updating Wilder’s bedroom to suit his toddler personality and add a little warmth and that snowballed into needing a solution for his bookcase. I found his bookcase on craigslist earlier this year and I loved the midcentury shape, the brass feet, and the fact that it was just the perfect size for his space. What I didn’t love was the red tones of the wood (which really was just some wood and a lot of laminate, so don’t be mad at me for painting it), and that red tone became amplified as I began to make changes to his space. I’ve never been a fan of red, and I simply could not have it; something had to change. I contemplated just purchasing a 4 square Ikea Kallax and took it to instagram stories for a vote where a whopping 90% of voters convinced me to paint the bookcase. As I contemplated my decision, I thought back on how I got into painting furniture in the first place 12 years ago… out of a need to fill our home on a very tight budget. Well, 12 years later, one kid more, and a renovation going on, we are back to that tight budget, so I dug into those roots and decided that 90% of IG voters were right. Today I am sharing with you that furniture makeover: mud cloth painted bookcase.
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To refresh your memory, here is what this bookcase looked like before. It was still red in tone then but against the blue it didn’t bother me as much.
However, as you can see in the first photo, the curtains have changed to a mustard yellow. I knew I wanted to keep it neutral and simple because I wanted the warm tones of his curtains and new artwork (which I will share soon!) to really pop. Black was not an option because it shows ALL THE DUST, and as a busy mom, I don’t dust this house as often as I should. Thus, white was the perfect solution! I turned to my favorite white paint for furniture, General Finishes snow white.
I took the bookcase outside, armed with my supplies. Those little off white things are the rubber parts that slide onto the brass pieces to make shelf supports.
I taped off the brass feet, and got busy sanding with my orbital sander. I used 80 grit paper to start because most of the bookcase was a hard laminate. Once it was sanded all over, I did end up going back over it with a higher grade paper just to smooth it a bit more. This is what the top looked like before I began. That fogginess is because it’s sort of a hard plastic laminate, which can easily be painted just like wood as long as you sand to dull the shine.
Here you can see that the leg columns were solid wood and sanded easily. (The brass foot came off that one leg which is why it’s not taped off. I simply put the foot back after painting.
Because I didn’t feel like priming it by hand, I used a spray primer. I used this one, but because the legs were a deep red stained wood, I did have some bleed through and ended up needing to go back to the store to purchase some of this one which is a lot stronger. I didn’t need much, so I sent Chris to grab a quart, but he came home with an entire gallon (which might also explain his ice cream portions). I just used a small brush to apply it where there were bleeding issues. (Also, the glory of a horrendously weedy back yard is that I didn’t care about what I hit with primer. 😉 )
Once that all dried, I applied two coats of General Finishes snow white. I knew that I wanted to add a black and white pattern to the back of the bookcase but I couldn’t decide what. I contemplated clouds, rain, clouds with rain, moons, suns, rainbow shapes… I just couldn’t decide! I knew whatever I did had to be small scale since I needed it to show up while still covered by books. I took it to Instagram again for a vote and majority said “moons!” However, one of my best friends messaged me to suggest a mud cloth design and I loved that idea.
I took to google and looked up some various mud cloth patterns. The glory of mud cloth is that it’s imperfect and irregular, just like my painting skills! I knew I could easily execute this plan and be satisfied with it.
I laid the bookcase out on our patio table and grabbed a can of General Finishes lamp black and got to work just hand painting a design. Once I got to that section with the “X” I repeated the same order, but had the patterns go in opposite directions. You can also see where I messed up a bit; I went back after and touched that up wth white paint.
Once it was all finished, I was pretty happy with the result!
We brought it inside that evening to let it finish setting in his room, and just had piles of books all around it. He smiled at it, and touched the design, then smiled at me, so I am fairly certain he approves. (Also, don’t be jealous of his train conductor PJs.)
I am so glad I took the time to just paint his bookcase rather than buying a new one. It was exponentially more rewarding for me, and I am thrilled with how it looks in his space.
The scale of the pattern is perfect so that it still shows up behind all of his books.
And those brass feet truly shine now!
I love how it looks flanked between his new mustard blackout curtains. These curtains are actually the same brand as is previous blue ones because I was so thrilled with the blackout quality they offered. When I saw that they started carrying solid colors and had mustard, I was all in!
As you may know by now, I am having a love affair with pattern, especially black and white pattern. Check out this peek from the hallway into Wilder’s nursery; and don’t forget just to the left is his tree wallpaper (in black and white, naturally.)
What projects have you done lately that you’ve found rewarding? I would love to hear!
I will be sharing the fall version of Wilder’s room coming in just a couple weeks, so stay tuned!