Today, we’re sharing our French Gray Painted Books! It’s another quick and easy decorating idea you can complete in an afternoon.
Truth be told, when the painted book craze hit Pinterest a few years ago, I totally skipped it.
At the time we were still able to shop thrift stores, estate sales, outdoor antique events, and charity shops pretty frequently. So, finding an assortment of fabulous weathered and patinaed old books was plentiful.
Then the pandemic hit, and we not only lost our ability to shop our favorite places, but some of us also lost our motivation to decorate too.
I realize now there were plenty of opportunities to take on even small projects.
But back then, things felt so uncertain it was like one day rolled into another, and before we knew it months had passed by.
Finding time for projects big and small…
While our home goals list is pretty small this year, I would love for this island cottage to feel more settled.
One thing I know we can do (and you can too) is to knock out the small projects on our list.
These are the items you’ve been planning to get to for a while but for some reason, they seem so minor you haven’t made time to finish them yet.
This brings me back to the French Gray painted books and moving the glass front display cabinet from the breakfast nook back to its original spot bridging the gap between the entry and the living room.
Since I’m trying to use up paint and craft supplies and decorative items we already have on hand, and shopping for old patinaed books hasn’t been an option lately anyway, I decided to make my own.
Honestly, it’s one of those DIY decorating projects that can easily be completed in an afternoon. You can customize the books to be whatever color you want.
And bonus, you probably already have the materials you need in your garage or craft room too.
Here’s a look at how to create French Gray painted books…
French Gray Painted Book Supplies:
- Hardback Books
- Paint (color of your choice)
- Sanding Block
- Dark Furniture Paste Wax
- Clear Furniture Paste Wax
- Wax brush (optional)
- Lint Free Cloth
- Tarp (to protect work surfaces)
French Gray Painted Book Steps:
Gather your supplies and lay a tarp down to protect your work surfaces. Make sure your books are free from dirt and debris.
Open the book to the middle and lay the pages face down on your work surface so the covers can easily be painted.
Apply the paint in thin coats allowing plenty of drying time between each coat.
We used Valspar’s New Concrete and Faint Maple because we have those colors featured all over the house and we wanted to keep things consistent.
Feel free to choose the color that goes best with your home though!
Most of our book covers were pretty bright so it took around 3 coats of paint.
Once the paint is completely dry, lightly sand using a fine-grit sanding block.
Next, consider adding a bit of dark furniture paste wax to help “age” your French Gray painted books.
If you’re new to paste wax, you’ll want to add a layer of clear wax before you add a layer of dark wax.
That said, clear wax can also be a great “eraser” of dark wax if you’ve used too much.
Keep in mind, if your book covers are textured in any way it will show through once the wax has been applied.
Embossed titles and letters will show through too!
Here’s a look at the French Gray painted books without wax…
with a light touch of dark paste wax…
and finally, with a heavy touch of dark paste wax.
Taking the pressure off…
As I shared above, projects like these French Gray painted books are great because you can customize them with paint and wax, based on your taste, how you use them in seasonal vignettes and where they’ll be displayed too.
There’s not a lot of pressure for them to be perfect either because well-loved, weathered, worn, and patinaed books rarely age at the same rate.
Which makes this a great project for any skill level!