Zinsser Bin Synthetic Shellac Primer – I’ve been slowly decorating, renovating and designing my little farmhouse for a few years now and have finally realized the one thing my home is missing… nothing really. Shelves. Shelves that I can design, decorate, and put pretty little things on as the seasons or my mood changes.
A couple of months ago, a friend of mine asked if her real estate company could film a marketing video at my home and I was very happy with her request. It also forced me to finish some projects around the house that I had always neglected, like the empty space between two windows in the living room. My first idea was to build a mantel and hang a mirror on it, but I couldn’t shake the burning desire (okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic) to have pretty shelves to play with. So I went to IKEA, got a simple white bookcase and put it together as soon as I got home.
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BUT, as most of you who have ever put together an IKEA bookcase or similar cheap bookcase know, the flimsy piece of cardboard they give you to nail to the back of the bookcase not only looks cheap, but it also comes off the bookcase over time. shelves, making the item unstable and useless. Want to know about the simple update I made to give it a more premium look? Continue reading, friends…
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Before we get into the IKEA hack, I want to share some information about choosing the bookcase itself. Before going to the store, I looked online and first noticed the LIATORP bookcase because of the beautiful details. But what I didn’t realize until I saw it in the store was how creamy/ivory the finish was, which you can’t tell by looking at the website. I’m so glad I went to the store instead of ordering online because I know I should have sent the item back. I wanted a clean white to match or be close enough to the walls.
My next choice was the HEMNES bookcase with white finish. It still has more detail than the basic BILLY bookcase, but it’s not as expensive as the LIATORP. And most importantly, it was a beautiful clean white color. So, I came home to the HEMNES bookshelf. The moral of the story is, although I shop online A LOT and sometimes buy amazing things, it’s better to see them in person first!
Also, if you’re one of those people who dread putting together IKEA furniture, this bookcase was probably the easiest piece of IKEA furniture I’ve ever put together!
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The liner that came with this particular bookcase had a slight wood grain pattern to it, which wasn’t too bad, but that’s not what I had in mind. I decided to see if I could use 1×4 wood planks instead to not only make the bookcase nice and sturdy, but also give it a vertical look.
First I measured the back of the bookcase. The width was 35 inches and the height needed to cover the back was exactly 6 feet. Since the 1×4 boards are actually only 3 1/2 inches wide, the math became very simple and I took ten – 6 foot 1x4s.
I knew it would be much easier to paint the boards before they went on the bookshelf, especially since I only had to paint one side of the board. HERE ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS YOU NEED TO LEARN FROM THIS POST… are you ready?
Painting Ikea Furniture For A High End Look
This is the primer you need to use, my friend. I know it’s tempting to buy a cheap can of primer because you’re going to paint it anyway, or even skip the primer altogether. I’ve definitely been guilty of both crimes in the past. But after painting many, many things white over the years, here’s what I know for sure…
Unless you prime your unfinished wood with a high-quality stain-blocking primer, the knots and grains in your wood WILL bleed through the paint and become visible for months or years. The wood will end up with yellow-brown stains and I promise you will be very annoyed at having to repaint it. I’ve encountered this more times than I’d like to admit, so learn from your mistakes!
This B-I-N Advanced Synthetic Shellac from Zinsser is my favorite primer because it covers well, hides stains, seals knots in the wood, and is water-based, making brushes easy to clean. To be completely transparent, this is not sponsored in any way and I just wanted to share my tried-and-true primer every time I paint raw wood! I used one coat of primer and two coats of ultra white eggshell paint (Dutch Boy Ultra White Base Paint).
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I attached the painted side of the boards to the back of the bookcase and pre-drilled holes at the top and bottom for screws. I had to know that not all the boards would be perfectly straight, so the last 1 x 4 had to be cut to size. I used a circular saw to cut the 1 x 4 to about the same size as the 1 x 2 (1 1/2 inches wide) and it fit perfectly. If you are using this particular bookcase, you might want to bring a 6′ 1 x 2 from the store with you in case you run into the same problem and don’t want to tear up the boards.
Tip: You don’t have to use the most expensive quality wood for this project (I went with medium quality), but it’s worth going through a bunch of wood until you find the straightest boards!
Once the boards were attached to the back, I decided to caulk the seams where the end boards meet the bookshelf. It was quite a big gap to fill and I also think it gives the piece a higher level and less DIY look.
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To make application easier, I used a caulking gun and a tube of painter’s putty, followed by the handy miter tool shown below. I used this trim tool years ago when I installed all the baseboards and trim in our living/dining room and it was SO good for quickly smoothing out and cleaning up seal lines. You simply run the tool at an angle along the seal line, wiping away any excess sealant that accumulates on the tool as you go. It’s good to have paper towels on hand!
This is my vision of the perfect style for every day at any time of the year. Lots of neutral tones balanced with textured details, interesting shapes, creamy whites, wood tones, vintage and new pieces. If you’re interested, I could write a blog post on how to style shelves as there are a few simple theories or “formulas” that I can use to do it very easily without looking scruffy or too bare. I love this simple and clean look and now I have a place to display some of my favorite accessories. You can count on these shelves to change and change again and again as the seasons begin to change!
Note. Some links in this post are affiliate links which allow me to receive a small commission if you make a purchase, but the purchase price remains the same. When you use these links I will be able to support this blog and make it better, so thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support!
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