Contact Paper Bookshelf Makeover

Joy Elizabeth
by Joy Elizabeth
5 Materials
3 Hours

These past few weeks, I’ve been painting over laminate furniture in the office and giving it a fresh makeover.

Our office is full of black laminate Ikea furniture. It worked great when it had a dramatically dark, masculine library-office look in the old house. Now, between running the Etsy shop, being the family “secretary”, and working on projects, it has become “Mommy’s office”…and it is a hot mess!

Since the laminate furniture we already have is still in good shape and super functional, I thought painting it would be a good solution.

I saw a photo of a white bookshelf with a rustic wood back, and thought that would be the perfect way to update our laminate shelves,and get an affordable farmhouse look for my office!

Painting over laminate furniture made me a bit nervous at first, but I realized it is almost as simple as painting over wood!

The most important thing is to use a quality primer to ensure adhesion.

Typically, I use Kilz because it has never let me down as far as sticking to stubborn surfaces. Unfortunately, it smells strong for days so I try to only use it outside.

I used BIN shellac primer for this project, followed by a latex paint. The BIN still smells during application, but it is not quite as strong. Unlike oil based, it dries completely odorless!

The paint color I used is Sherwin Williams in the color Alabaster. It is a lovely creamy white color, plus I found a gallon of it for $9 in the oops paint at Lowes…score!

1. First, remove the shelves. Next, sand the piece lightly with a medium grit sandpaper. This is important, and I learned this the hard way!

2. After sanding, clean the piece thoroughly and allow to dry.

3. Using a small foam roller, apply one even coat of BIN primer.

You can use a brush to get to any spots the roller can’t reach. The foam roller helps to minimize brush marks and get a nice thin coat.

The shellac primer doesn’t wash out with water like latex, so I used a cheap disposable touch up roller and tossed it after use. I use a mask while applying the primer, but within about a half hour, the smell dissipates completely.

4. After at least 24 hours, I applied the latex top coat. I used a roller again, with a brush to get in the nooks and crannies. To go completely from black to white, I needed three thin coats of latex.

5. Apply the contact paper backing. This was the part I was most excited about. The instant transformation from the contact paper is pretty addicting!

First, cut the paper just a little longer than the back of the shelf. Peel just the top six inches or so, and get that aligned and smooth to the top corner of the shelf backing.

Then, slowly pull off the rest of the backing and smooth down to the base of the shelf. I used a knife to gently cut a clean line at the base to remove the excess paper.

The finished result is just what I was hoping for! Painting over laminate furniture and adding the fun backing was a relatively simple and affordable way to update the office!

The two contact papers I tried were this rustic wood grain, and a lighter weathered barn wood. I decided I liked the lighter one better for the office shelves, but I took photos of both!

Here is the  lighter plank paper!

I love how both turned out!

For more details on lessons I learned doing this makeover, check out my original post below!

Or If you loved this makeover, click below to my blog post and pin it for later!

Right now, I am working on another project that uses contact paper, this time a DIY chalkboard for the playroom!

Do you have any contact paper transformations to share? :)

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Joy Elizabeth
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Lori Ward-Laatsch Lori Ward-Laatsch on Sep 22, 2020

    Did you take the back off to do the paper? I have one that it sitting in my garage waiting for it's new life and I plan to use this

    and a medium grey paint, and maybe distress it a little bit. I thought removing the back would be easier, but then I am not sure if putting it back on would be worth what I save in not having to measure and be wrong 5 times till I get it right lol.

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