Thursday 31 October 2013

D.I.Y- Adding some Pizzazz to a Dull, Old Bookshelf

You all know how much I love book shelves. I love them piled high with books, little knick knacks and an assortment of tiny trinkets that are collected through the years. They say that you can know a man by the books he reads, well, I often think that when you look at someones bookshelf, you get a glimpse into their soul, into who they are, their likes and dislikes- basically, what makes them tick.

We picked up this bookshelf from a tiny store on MG road, when we were setting up our flat. I think it was, in fact, the first piece of furniture we bought. So it has a lot of sentimental value. Its a wooden bookshelf, with a walnut varnish. But as our home has slowly taken shape, it was has started looking a bit old and dull. It needed to be spruced up! Nothing that a touch of color couldn't fix!


So with the hubby away over the weekend, I scheduled some major D.I.Y bookshelf painting to revamp this beloved piece of furniture. Off I went to the local paint shop to get the necessary items and also some advice on how to go about it correctly. (I would have asked the painter who works on all my sites, but he is always horrified that 'madam' is painting her own furniture and he insists on doing it himself. And this kinda defeats the purpose of D.I.Y!)

At the paint shop, the uncle behind the counter looked just as appalled when I explained that I would be painting. Although I think in his case it had more to do with the fact that I was a woman, and a relatively small one at that. He did reluctantly tell me what was needed and how to go about it. He also cautioned that the process of sand papering to remove the varnish was really tough. (mental note to myself, listen to uncles who give you advise... he was right, it was really tough and I have a sore shoulder from all the sanding!)

I love D.I.Y paint jobs. Sometimes they come off really well, others not so... but I enjoy the fun of trying and also learning from the mistakes I make. I was sorry though, that I did it when the hubby wasn't there. Not because it was really tough doing all that sanding (although it was and I could have really used some muscle), but because the two of us have great fun doing these things together. We laugh and joke and argue about who the better painter is.

The entire process itself took about 2 days. As you apply more paint, it takes more time to dry. I ended up applying four coats. I think if I had used a wood primer before applying the paint, it would have required only three, but the uncle insisted that the primer wasn't necessary. A mistake, and I should have known better! (mental note to myself... don't always listen to uncles who give you advice, especially when you know better)

Overall I was quite pleased with the results, but my biggest disappointment were the patches in the paint, which happened because I didn't have the muscle to remove the polish completely! But its not very noticeable since most of them are hidden behind books.

So ta-da! The big reveal... here's the revamped bookshelf with a splash of cobalt blue, tying in with the blue photo frames we have up on the wall. Next project is our boring side table, which are also going to get a coat of blue paint!


So do you like the new look? write and and tell me what you think. Would love to hear from you!

If you want to add some pizzazz to an old piece of furniture then here's what you will need...

1. Satin Paint
2. Turpentine
3. Paint brush (about 3-4 inches)
4. Sand paper (medium grit)
5. Sand Paper (fine, for smoothing)
6. A clean thin cloth for dusting and wiping down the surface

And here's what I did...

Step 1:
Sanding... Warning!!! make sure you cover up your mouth and nose before starting! 
To begin with I used a medium grit (quite abrasive) sandpaper to remove the coat of varnish. This is really, really tough so I would suggest you get 'the one with the muscles' to do it. Its really important to ensure that all the polish is removed. COMPLETELY! If you don't, like me, you will end up with dark patches where the original polish is and it will look quite untidy. Also, ladies, if you want to give it a go, use gloves! I had rough hands for days :)

Step 2:
Sanding with a fine sandpaper (I used no. 815) to smooth out the surface. This part is much easier!

Step 3: The uncle at the paint store didn't tell me to use primer, and even though I knew better, I was a bit lazy and decided to paint without priming the surface. This was a mistake! Please, Please don't skip this step. The paint will take for ever to dry and the finish won't be as neat.

Step 4: Using paper tape, tape the boundary of the surface over which you don't want stray streaks of paint. Like in the image below.

As you can see, I could have done a better job of removing the varnish

Step 5: Paint! You will need to apply 3 coats, if you use a primer. Allow the painted surface to dry completely between each coat of paint.

Step 6: Once the paint is dry, peel away the tape and clean up any spots of paint with turpentine.

Good Luck!!!

[All images- Shalini Pereira]


  1. It looks beautiful. What a great idea. Love DIY projects, not that I do too many of them.

  2. Primer definitely helps! I paint and stain furniture too (since here in the US, it all has to be DIY)! I love the rich blue colour you chose!

    1. Thanks Roshni & thanks for dropping by... I visited your blog ... its so interesting! Going to be a regular now...

  3. Superb!! You've inspired me to fix a few things around here too!

  4. This one is fabulous! Loved it. Though I am not so brave with furniture, I just might someday, after looking at this. Good Job!

    1. Thanks for dropping by... I'm so glad you liked the post... hope you do eventually work up the courage to experiment with one or 2 pieces of furniture :)

  5. Beautifully done! So inspiring!

  6. Wow, this looks superb! I have a old table at my place. Now I know what i am doing with it.

    1. Thanks Charul... do let me know how it turns out!

  7. Shalini, this is a fab job... and your step by step tutorials make it so easy to follow... i love coming back to your blog..... <3

  8. Thank you... I'm really happy you enjoyed this post!

  9. Looks great Shalini ... the Blue looks faboulous... but you seem to have forgotten Materials -III in college... about wood primer and finishing etc........ I'm doing the same thing with a couple of planters and some old wrought iron stands and holders..... need pots of paint remover and anti rust chemical before I put the metal primer on.... Al the best with the side table
    and the step by step instructions are good for a beginner :)

  10. Chinky Sir! so glad to see you here! Yes I know... didn't forget about the primer- was a bit lazy and allowed myself to be misled even though I knew better :) But will definitely NOT skip that important step for the next job! I'm glad you liked the post & the instructions... and good luck with the stands & holders. Hope I'll see you here more often!

  11. This is gorgeous!! , Im going to try it!


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