Painted Vintage Books

When I am decorating spaces in my home, I like to create vignettes (groupings of pieces on shelves or tabletops). One of my most used and favorite items with which to decorate in this way are books. I use books stacked by themselves, books standing upright, and also books as bases for other items I display on top of them.  And, since the distressed look is scattered throughout my home and in the products I make in my shop, vintage books work great!

I recently had some older books that I wanted to use, but didn't like the colors. In order to get the exact look I was going for I decided I would paint them. It was a super easy project and looks awesome when completed. I thought this would be a great project for me to pass along to you.


Chalk paint

Paint brush


Hard back books




Step one:

Gather 3 hardback books of varying sizes. I find books at yard sales or thrift stores. Old encyclopedias work also.

Step two:

Next you will want to grab chalk paint. Waverly makes a small bottle of chalk paint that you can find at Walmart or for those who want to dive in a little further, you can make your own chalk paint.

The recipe I use is: Mix 1/3 cup of Plaster of Paris(found at local hardware stores) and 1/3 cup water. Stir. Mix that with 1 cup of latex paint and stir.

Step three:

Lay your books open and start to paint. It will take 2-3 coats. Allow paint to dry between coats. To achieve the look above I painted the books black. And then went over with a coat of white paint. I applied the white paint in light, sporadic spots. Any color chalk paint is possible.

Step four:

Once dry, sand your books to blend paint and to add to the distressed look.

Step five:

I wanted to add a saying to the spine of my books. I offer 3 word stencils for $10 in our shop. They can be purchased at You can also use a stamp letter kit, handwrite or just leave them as is.  Stencil is added and painted with black paint.

Step six:

Sand again to blend in words.

Step seven:

I wrap my books with either twine, burlap or ribbon with a touch of greenary.

Yay! your set is complete! Display on your shelf or tabletop.

February 11, 2019 — Keisha Schermerhorn

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