This Post May Contain Affiliate Links. Please Read Our Disclosure Policy here

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

Don’t you love how paint can transform just about anything? I mentioned a couple of days ago in this post that we had this bookcase in our last two homes but lately it has been just hanging out in our garage. It originally belonged to my dad and I believe he got it secondhand! We try to buy good quality and classic styles whenever possible so things tend to last a long time.

You might remember this piece from my navy office in our last house. I actually wanted to paint it way back then, but it just wasn’t the right time to tackle it (instead I did an easier project and papered the back of it with maps to lighten it up)!. You can see that here.

We’re slow, but eventually we get to projects, hahahah. Painting a dark wood cabinet white is a commitment and it takes awhile, so it had to be the right time to do it. We didn’t use chalk or milk paint on this one, my husband painted it with many layers of good quality paint to cover it thoroughly.

Here was the before!

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

I actually liked this bookcase as it was and also love real wood, don’t get me wrong, but paint is our friend when we need a different look. I briefly considered other colors but ultimately decided to paint it the same as our walls, kitchen and trim (Simply White by Benjamin Moore) so it would have a more subtle character, similar to a built-in look.

Now it fits right in with the feel of our kitchen, tying spaces together in a cohesive way.

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

I will take more photos from other angles in the room so you can see in it context and in relation to the other rooms. I think it looks so cute in this spot, and I also love what it did to bring more character and continuity to the style we want throughout our little house.

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

As you know we’ve been rearranging our home for five years now :). I usually have a vision for where I’m headed, but it’s always a matter of timing and patience, as well as trying things until you land on what you like the best. I’m actually starting to feel like a lot of things are finally landing where they will stay. We’ll see, but at least this feels right (for now!).

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

Little changes really can have a bigger impact than we might imagine! My dream for this house is still built-ins everywhere, but for now (and maybe forever, who knows LOL) creative solutions like this make me happy and remind me to be content with how far we’ve come.

We still have lots more projects we want to get to and plenty of fun ideas for this house, but I feel like each small step should be celebrated!

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After
White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After
White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

One more look at the before and after…

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After
^ Pin for inspiration! ^
White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After

Update 2022: See this same bookcase in my new house HERE!

White Painted Wood Bookcase: Before & After
See this same bookcase in my new house HERE!


Paint color: Simply White Benjamin Moore

Black wall candle sconce and battery operated remote taper candle

Battery operated essential oil diffuser

My All Time Favorite Home Decorating Book and Other Fave Coffee Table Books


  1. Ellen hall

    Is the bookcase in the dining room? If so, where did you put the buffet chest that was in front of the window?
    Love all your rearranging.

    • Rowena Graham

      Is it ok base or latex?

  2. Gail

    Great transformation!
    Did you use latex paint and in what sheen? Semi-gloss?
    If you used latex, you don’t find it can sometimes ‘stick’ to items??

  3. Lisa M.

    It’s beautiful! Amazing transformation! Looks like a different piece of furniture.
    I, too, am curious the type of paint you used. Can’t wait to see the photos of it from different angles and see it in the room! Is this your dining room?

  4. Francis C. Moore

    I love it. I have two bookcases that are dark pine that I would love to paint, but it is too big of a job for me.

  5. Su

    That bookcase is so cute.
    I love how you blend different pieces of
    furniture and fixtures in your room.
    I do the same thru out our home.
    Matchy matchy can be a bit boring.

    Can’t wait to see where you fit that
    bookcase in a room😉

  6. Su

    That bookcase is so cute.
    I love how you blend different pieces of
    furniture and fixtures in your room.
    I do the same thru out our home.
    Matchy matchy can be a bit boring.

    Can’t wait to see where you fit that
    bookcase in a room😉

    First time viewing this post

  7. Lani

    Love, Love, Love your project. Inspiring as always. We have a similar 40 year old Ethan Allen bookcase that houses our stereo system behind the bottom doors The maple still fits in with our new home but I finally took care of the VERY ugly paneling backing to the bookcase. I thought of wallpaper then finally realized that a very neutral natural grasscloth was the answer. We have grasscloth in our entry so it ties in.(I’ve told myself) Life is good when you use what you have and update to your current liking. Hey, it only took me 4 decades! I always disliked the backing so it was always filled with lots and lots of books. Now I can style it with treasures as well.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thank sounds so lovely!! Wonderful idea! It takes time but so fun to be able to update classic pieces you already have.

  8. Carol Karl

    Wow, the makeover looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Christine Keene

    I love the white bookshelf! It looks so much better than it did before. I assume that it was an enamel paint. ?? I saw the color was Simply White by Benjamin Moore.

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      It’s actually Benjamin Moore’s Aura line, which is a latex we had for trim as well.

  10. Kim

    That looks darling. Love how you styled it. Looks like it’s in your dining room?

    • Melissa @ The Inspired Room

      Thanks so much Kim! It’s just right around the corner from the dining room, in the living room. But it would be super cute in the dining room too, I’d love a book case or built in like it in there too!

  11. Sharan K Cook

    This is an amazing transformation. I can hardly believe it’s the same piece. Truly a labor of love.

  12. Nancy

    I love it!!❤️❤️ I’m looking for a bookcase similar to yours and haven’t been able to find one, so if it’s missing you’ll know where to look!😂😂

  13. Barb

    Hi Melissa, What did Jerry do to prep before painting? Sand ? Primer? Thanks!

  14. Leanne Wight

    Love it! I think painting it really showcases the beautiful “dental” detail at the top of the bookcase!

  15. Julie

    Beeeuitful! Love the transformation and that white truly shows off the piece more. I bet in time though you’ll do something to the backing as I would! I took good quality wrapping paper and applied to the backing of my numerous made oak bookcases. Hubby is a wood purist resulting in me not being able to paint any oak in this house (and there’s lots) so this is my way of appeasing me! lol There’s black/white polka paper in the front foyer (bookcases surrounds front door entry), and same paper in the family room as that bookcase is across the full wall with French doors in the middle. Kitchen bookcase has like a plaid black/white paper and did the small glass china cabinets with same paper. As you, hubby and I love bookcases and have had these built over the 25 years we’ve lived in our home…… – the wrapping paper was applied using thumbtacks which worked out perfectly as they went on the white dots of the paper so you don’t see them unless you really look. =)

  16. Linda McDonnell

    Several questions about the process of painting and type of paint. Could you do a post with details? For example, was this semi gloss, high gloss in Aura line? How many coats, you mention many? Did he sand in between coats? Why decide not to prime? Thanks.

  17. Char

    Beautiful! I too am waiting for built-ins (on either side of our great room fireplace for one). In the meantime you’ve inspired me to search out some free-standing classic bookcases that I can paint. I just finished painting a 1940’s China cabinet with my sister-in-law which turned out fabulous so I’m ready to go! Thanks.
    PS – I love how you styled your bookcase too!

  18. Sue

    What did you apply the paint with? Did you add any product to the paint to slow down drying time for less brush strokes?

  19. Cheryl C

    I love the white you selected. It turned out very nicely. As I love white (and blue), I could see myself doing a similar makeover. Thanks for sharing your ideas and inspiration.

browse categories:

browse archives:

let’s stay connected!

Follow for daily
Home Inspiration:

get my free decorating guide

home decor inspiration, free downloads,
and more, straight to your inbox