Cover the Earth In Paint

I’m working on “styling” this bookshelf and it’s not going well.  Normally I am a fan of books on bookshelves and not a whole lot else, but we used to have this bookshelf crammed full of stuff and when I emptied it out so we could refinish the floors I thought it looked a lot better.

I painted the whole thing black because the brown supports and black shelves were reading very “2004 West Elm brown and black furniture” to me, but now I’m not sure my things look good with a black bookshelf.  In fact I kind of hate it, and I’m wondering if I should paint the whole thing white.

It looks better in pictures, so I’m not sure how illustrative this whole exercise is, but what do you think?  Paint it white?

I’m really really tired of painting things white, but here’s another corner of the living room where you can see another bookshelf that I have already painted white.

I love how this looks, which is mostly what’s making me think maybe I need to get that can of white paint back out.   But just thinking about all of that priming and painting makes me feel ill, so…hrm.

On the plus side, the dining room is looking amazing, so hopefully I’ll have some pictures of that soon.  Seriously, I kind of can’t believe how great it looks.



14 Responses

  1. I always like when you paint something A Color. I wonder if those shelves would look good GOLD or something?

  2. hmm… I was about to say: PAINT IT WHITE! But then I read Swistle’s comment and Gold could look kind of amazing!

  3. STOP! Take a deep breath. Style it first. Get it so you love it, even if it takes a month of tweaking. Then decide how you feel about the color.

  4. Paint just the uprights/supports? Or just the shelves? Black and white might be nice. Or go for that orange/red that I see on the file cabinet(??) I think the problem is that the sound system blends in. You want SOMETHING to *pop*, as the red book does. The colorful book spines are what make the white bookcase so attractive.

  5. If it were me, I’d live with it for a while. Especially if the thought of painting One More Thing was driving me bonkers.

    But… I would then probably just live with it, even if I didn’t really LIKE it. So if you are like that – tending to just leave things be even if they aren’t exactly right just because they have been there for so long – well, I guess I’d say paint it white.

  6. I think it looks nice, but if you are saying that it looks better in the picture than in real life, I vote for painting. Because I really like the one you already painted white.

  7. Do you have any furniture painting tips? I know you paint furniture all the time and it always looks so nice when you post finished pics of what you’ve painted.

    In fact, you actually inspired me to “re-do” my entire upstairs. My kids’ room, the guest room (i.e. the dump spot), and the toy room were so cluttered and blah that no one really wanted to be/play/hang out in them anymore. So one weekend my husband and I went through all of those rooms and the closets in them and pulled out stuff/furniture/boxes/toys/whatever to throw away, consign or sell in a garage sale. We moved furniture around and moved kids between rooms, bought new bedding and wall art, and picked new paint colors for all the rooms. We had the garage sale two weekends ago and made about $2,000 (no lie!), and this past weekend we painted the boys’ room Martha Stewart’s “wrought iron” (it’s going to be a Star Wars room, per their request).

    Anyway, next up is my daughter’s room and we want to paint the furniture in there, too. It’s currently white (manufacturer finished white) and we’re not sure if we have to sand it down first, or just paint over what’s already there. Do you have any recommendations? I’d appreciate any advice you have to offer.

    And thank you, too. I feel as if we’ve breathed fresh air into our house and it feels so good. And everyone wants to be/play/hang out upstairs again. Hooray!

    You’re the best.

    • Holy cow! A $2000 garage sale? I want to have one of those! That is amazing. I want to see pictures when its all done! So for furniture painting – a lot of times it depends on the surface you are starting out with. You’re starting out white, so you have less of a need for a primer, unless you’re painting over laminate or a really glossy painted surface. I’d probably wash the whole thing down with TSP, and then wipe a deglosser over the whole thing. (both of these are in the paint section.) If you want you can rough it up with a sander, but you probably don’t need to. Then I’d put a coat of primer (KILZ) over it. You can do two if you want but since you’re painting over white you probably wouldn’t need to. This will give you something for your paint to stick to, basically. Then do as many coats as you think you need of a latex based paint – probably a semi gloss unless you know you want a really flat surface, then I might do eggshell. I would use Valspar paint, because I like that and I think it turns out less sticky – but if you do end up with a tacky surface or you are painting something that’s going to get a lot of use I’d go over it with a layer of water based polyurethane. (the oil based stuff can yellow really easily). I like the wipe on poly for natural wood surfaces but I can’t find it in a water based so if you are going over paint I’d use the brush on can of water based stuff. Oh, and use a really really good brush. The Purdy ones seem expensive but they are worth it. And obviously lots of thin coats are going to be better than thick gloppy coats. You won’t ever get it to the point where you don’t see brush strokes and it will always look painted, but 1. not from far away and 2. if you go into with the expectation that you know it’s going to look painted and not like a smooth store bought finish, you won’t be upset with the results. If it’s small stuff, you can spray paint it, and then you’ll get a more brush free finish. You can also buy a container of something called Floetrol that is supposed to help with brush strokes, but I’ve never noticed much of a difference with that. How exciting! I want to see pictures when it’s done. And I am always going to think about the 2000 dollar garage sale with mad jealousy. Elizabeth

  8. Well, I’m currently in love with white bookshelves. We just bought two low ones that we’re using for the nightstands in our room and I love them so much I want all white furniture. I vote for painting.

  9. I vote painting. The bookshelf you already painted looks perfect with your living room.

  10. I have no opinion because I am busy salivating over the ottoman.

  11. I think the white corner looks fabulous. The black looks good in the picture, but if you hate it, then paint it white 🙂 (I’m kind of down with the gold suggestion, though…..)

  12. i love that white bookshelf so much i may need to paint all the furniture in my house.

    thanks for the tips on how to do that. last question – how long do you wait before putting all your stuff back on the shelves?

    i vote paint the new one too.

  13. Maybe not gold or white, but a buttery yellow. When I originally read this I even thought a granny apple green would look amazing.

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