Farmhouse Bookshelf

farmhouse bookshelf featured

If you liked the white floral dresser from last week, hopefully you’ll like the farmhouse bookshelf project I’m sharing today.  They are going to be next to each other in the same room, so they are designed to coordinate without being too matchy-matchy.    

We got this bookshelf off Facebook Marketplace; a nice lady was selling off her aunt’s estate.  It was in really good condition, but absolutely filthy.  It had a light inside the top, and a cord that ran through a hole in the back and plugged in.  But the cord was no longer flexible, so it was a complete fire hazard.  We removed the light, and the patriotic eagle hardware.

farmhouse bookshelf before

Prep & Cleaning

I patched the holes using white Dixie Belle mud.  It’s wood putty, but it sands smooth so easily, and comes in white, brown and black so you can choose what is closest to your final color.  I mixed up some White Lightning cleaner in a small spray bottle.  I eyeballed the measurements, about a half teaspoon, into the bottle, filled the rest with water and shook it up.  Then I sprayed it onto the wood and rubbed it off with a shop towel, buffing in circular motions. 

To rinse off any cleaner, I spray the piece with water and wipe it off.  When cleaning, I make sure to get the interior, bottom and back clean as well.  My clients don’t need any dust bunny surprises!  I always say, the cleaning and prep is the most important step to ensure a smooth and durable finished product.  White Lightning costs less than $5, and the container lasts forever.  It’s the best investment a beginner or DIY-er could make in a painting toolkit!

Paint & Stain

To start, I laid this piece on its back and squirted the inside with water-based gray gel stain.  I used stain rather than paint for this step, so it was more like a wash and allowed some wood grain to show through.  To spread the gel stain evenly over the surface, I used an inexpensive chip brush.

I wasn’t sure whether this wood would bleed through a light color, so I went ahead and primed with BOSS.  The white version would have been ideal, but I only had clear on hand, so I used that.  The exterior is painted with a custom mix of Cotton and Drop Cloth that I refer to as Cotton Cloth.  It is about 3 parts Cotton to 1 part Drop Cloth.  It took 3 coats to get good coverage, using my smooth finish technique.  I lightly scuff-sand and clean with a tiny bit of Sprayway glass cleaner and a shop towel between each coat. 

farmhouse bookshelf side view

Of course, a bit of distressing around the edges was in order for the farmhouse look we were shooting for.

farmhouse bookshelf distress


The glass shelves came with wood fronts, so those got painted white as well.

farmhouse bookshelf shelf cover

To add a simple detail to the doors, I used Dixie Belle’s wreath stencil.  After taping it in place using blue painter’s tape, I filled it in with a stiff-bristle brush and a light gray paint called Driftwood.  I love this sweet little laurel wreath, and plan on using it on signs and many other projects!

farmhouse bookshelf stencil

Inside the cabinet doors was an opportunity to add a pop of color.  My client chose yellow, but I didn’t know if she was thinking a pastel yellow, or a bright yellow. So I split the difference and painted the inside box pastel and the shelf bright yellow.  I think this sunny combo will put a smile on her face whenever she opens it. 

farmhouse bookshelf interior

The simple black knobs came from D Lawless Hardware.  I placed them towards the top of the doors for ease of use. 

farmhouse bookshelf knobs

Here are the products I used for this project:

Resource list

(Some of these are affiliate links, for which I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you.)

If you like this farmhouse bookshelf project, you might enjoy this one as well.  Please Pin!

farmhouse bookshelf pinterest

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