DIY Chalk-Painted Book Tutorial

DIY Chalk-Painted Book Tutorial

Books are a wonderful tool in design. I use them often to create levels, to add character and make a space feel more lived-in, to add color and texture, and so much more. Generally, I load up on piles of vintage books from my local thrift stores, in colors that work well with the room. For a recent master bedroom project, I kept coming up empty. I scoured every store near me, on two separate occasions and couldn’t find any books, at all, in beige/white/creams.

Stack of Books fiction

Now, I’m a book person. I LOVE books. When it first occurred to me that I could paint them, I was immediately horrified with myself (ruining perfectly good books?!) BUT, I had a client waiting on me, and I knew books were the right answer to a few spots, so on I went. I picked up a pile of hardcovers from my local thrift store, favoring ones that were lighter in color, where possible. I also grabbed a couple paperbacks to see if I could get away with painting them, too.

Discarded Book Jackets

I chose CraftSmart Chalky Finish paint in Parchment, from Michael’s. It came in a small jar, and it was a thrifty pick. Since these books will just sit in place, as decor, I wasn’t terribly worried about how the quality would be, but the quality was just fine. First, I removed all the dust jackets, and tossed them. I covered the table with my drop cloth and laid out a few paintbrushes. I ended up using a fairly large painters brush (1.5″, maybe?) instead of my smaller art brushes, because it covered everything really quickly.

DIY Chalk painted books
I propped each book up on the table to dry as I went. Every book took two coats- even the darker books. Because chalk paint dries so quickly, as soon as they all had one coat, I went back to the first and reapplied. At that point, I was done. However, if you’d like to still be able to use the books, I’d recommend a quick, light sand with fine grit paper and a coat of wax. Without the wax, they will chip up and scrape easily. I had no problems moving mine around and packing them in and out to my client’s house, but I know they wouldn’t hold up to regular use.

DIY chalk painted books how to
When they were all dry, I added titles to each spine with a black 0.7mm permanent ink pen. Some of the spines had embossed lettering that I used as a guide, and others didn’t so I just winged it. I had a few tiny mistakes that I covered up with more paint before trying again.

chalk painted book spine stamped writing diy
This was such a simple way to add stacks and stacks of coordinating books to my client’s master bedroom. I would definitely do it again, despite my initial reservations. They look beautiful, are being put to use and will be well loved in their new homes!

stack of vintage white books painted hardcover hearth fireplace decor bedroom white cream chalk paint greens neutral decor DIY