Vintage Bookcase Makeover

I picked up this bookcase, seen here after its makeover, for $25. In its original condition, it was probably not worth that amount.

Bookcase painted with Americana Decor Satin Enamel paint. Color is Smoke Grey.
After primer and two coats of paint.

I wish had a “before” picture, but either I forgot to take one or I deleted it by mistake. But imagine a shabby brown bookcase with water damage and stains. What I should have noticed right away is that some water had spilled on it at some point, which warped the piece. The warping was not that noticeable at a glance, but still, the damage was there. (You might be able to see from the picture that the frame is slightly warped.) I did my best to pull together the slightly warped sides using clamps. But I learned an important lesson: Stay away from furniture with any water damage. I don’t know enough about woodwork to properly repair something like that.

It is amazing what a little paint can do for a piece. I decided to prime it first. I already had some white Kilz spray primer on hand, so I covered the entire piece. With its brown color, along with water stains, using primer seemed like a good idea in case the paint couldn’t hide all of the previous finish and damage. For the painting part, I decided to use a paint product I have heard a lot about: Americana Decor Satin Enamels. I choose the Smoke Grey, which has a slight bluish color to it. I used a small foam roller to apply on most of the surfaces. I think I painted two coats.

Once a fresh coat of paint was applied, the warping wasn’t that noticeable. It just adds some character.

Here is a bit of background information that I learned about the piece when I was trying to sell in on Craigslist. Someone sent me a message telling me that this is an Encyclopedia Brittanica bookcase, meant to hold a complete set. It is probably from the 1930s or 40s.

I ended up selling the piece locally for $40. After buying the paint, I made a profit of about $8, but I consider it a learning experience and a labor of love.

Lesson learned from this project: When looking for old/worn pieces of furniture to refinish, be careful about choosing ones with water damage.