By Sarah Engler and Alexis Givens
August 17, 2014
Credit: Mark Lund

What You'll Need

  • One gallon Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer Sealer Stain Killer ($19, for store locations).
  • One gallon Benjamin Moore semigloss latex (shown in Decorator’s White;  $38, for store locations).
  • One gallon Behr High-Gloss latex (shown in Citrus Blast; $24, for store locations).
  • Roller frame with cover (about $9 at hardware stores).
  • Regular or foam paintbrush (prices vary, at hardware stores).
  • One pack 220-grit sandpaper (about $4 at hardware stores).
  • One one-inch-wide roll blue painter’s tape (about $5 at hardware stores). 

How to Do It

Step 1: If your piece has knots, sand them until they’re even with the grain, then spot-prime them. Next, roll a coat of primer over the whole piece to seal the wood. This will hide imperfections and provide a surface for the paint to adhere to. Let dry for at least an hour.

 Step 2: Using a roller on large surfaces and a brush on smaller ones, apply a coat of high-gloss latex paint (which will make the piece easy to clean and won’t leave behind a tacky, rubbery surface that will stick to books and other objects). Let dry for at least two hours, then apply a second coat. Paint removable shelves separately.

 Step 3: To create the two-tone look of the three-by-six-foot bookshelf shown at left, use one color to paint everything except the inside of the shell and the top and bottom of each shelf; use a contrasting color for those areas. When the shelves are completely dry, lay one strip of painter’s tape on the top and another on the bottom of each shelf, placed flush with the front edge, then use a foam paintbrush to apply a streak-free layer of the first paint to the front edge. Let dry completely before removing the tape.