living & dining rooms, part 2: painting bookcases

08.02 harlequin isn't just a romance novel

click to see the full photo galleryAfter the carpet episode, we decided to tackle something a little more familiar and a little less likely to blow up in our faces. There are only a few pieces of furniture we own that haven't seen our creative touch over the years so we've got some genuine experience under our belts in this department. And since our home's illustrious previous owner hasn't ever touched our bookcases, we were confident.

The project was fairly straightforward: turn a couple of boring bookcases that look every bit as cheap as they were into something extra-special. Our weapon of choice: paint. We love paint. Paint solves so many problems easily, it covers up any manner of sins, it's versatile, it's easy to clean-up.... Frankly, if we thought we could justify doing it, we'd use green paint to make our yard look verdant and lush until we have the money to landscape.

After doing all the preliminary work, we painted them both with two coats of black paint. Using a ruler to mark off the points, we penciled in a harlequin diamond pattern on the sides of each bookcase, using smaller diamonds on the shorter bookcase and large diamonds on the taller one. I started off masking the lines but since the paint bled along the edges anyway and the masking part takes awhile, I hand painted the lines after the first few to save time.

It took two coats of the the lighter tan paint to make all the diamonds opaque. You can use a small roller if you've got one that will work, but it doesn't take nearly as long as you'd think to hand paint all of those diamonds. Then I just used a yardstick as a guide and a broad-edged gold paint pen to outline the diamonds and make them really crisp and clean. We let them dry for a couple of days to give the paint time to really set; we've found that if you set books on painted surfaces without giving them extra time to cure, the edges of the books will leave imprints and sometimes the paint will come off. Then we coated everything with a spray acrylic to give it some protection, which also helped to keep the books from sticking once we loaded up the shelves.

click to see full photo gallery