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French Gray Painted Books

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)
  • Paintbrush
  • 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!

Let us know if you decide to make these French Gray painted books and all the fun projects you’re working on right now! Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,

CoCo

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33 Comments

  1. These look so pretty Coco. I’m a big fan of grey in our décor too.

    Great tutorial and I pinned. Thanks for inspiring.

    Cindy

    1. Thank you, Cindy! I don’t know if it’s because I’m so ready for spring or because the “decorating fog” has finally lifted but I’ve been adding lots of grays to the house lately. I don’t think I realized how much brown I actually had in here ?‍♀️ Big hugs, CoCo

  2. Hi, Coco,
    Thanks for this fun and easy project. It is just what I needed on this snowy afternoon in Illinois.
    I always appreciate your doable projects that don’t require endless supplies. And, love your style; gives this retired grandma something to look forward to.
    Blessings to you and your family, too.

    1. Such sweet and thoughtful words, Jo, thank you. I really appreciate it! I cannot get over all the snow you guys are getting. We’ve been watching the coverage and it’s really a sight to see. I hope you and your family are staying nice and toasty. Finger crossed spring is will be here soon ? Hope your day is a special one, CoCo

  3. I really loved the look and feel that the wax added to these books. I do have a hard time finding the colors of older books I am looking for and this would help solve that problem!

    1. Thank you, Heidi! We used to find old and weathered books at thrift stores and charity shops all the time. While I haven’t been to a thrift store in a while I hear from my vendor friends it’s been slim pickings lately so it’s fun to find an easy way to bridge the gap until we can get out and about again 🙂 Hugs, CoCo

  4. Denny Cheever says:

    These are so beautiful! Thank you for sharing the process. Can’t wait to make my own!

    1. You are very welcome, Denny, I’m happy to pass along any tips or tricks to help make the process easier. Hope you have the best day, CoCo

    1. You’re so sweet to say that, Caleb, thank you. I really appreciate it. Hope you’re having a fabulous day so far, CoCo

  5. I love how they turned out! I did some last year but never thought about wax, I love how it changes the look! Perfect!!

    1. Thank you so much, Cheryl, I really appreciate it! Hope your day is a fun one, CoCo

  6. Thanks for this CoCo! I missed the painted books the first time around too but I’m loving them now. Never thought of the wax though! Love the way they look with that. Thanks again and have a great week.

    1. Thank you so much, Denise! I never really thought about painting books because we had such great access to weathered books at estate sales and charity shops. The pandemic has definitely changed the way I look at our home though so I’m all kinds of excited to create whatever is needed until we are able to shop for the real thing. I can’t wait to see what you’ve been creating lately too. Hugs, CoCo

  7. These are gorgeous. I think I need to make some. I love how you can still see the embossing. Thanks for linking up to Keep In Touch.

    1. Thank you so much, Katie, I really appreciate it! Hugs, CoCo

  8. I have been wanting to paint books for months now!! I never thought of using wax on the paint – I really love the look! Thanks for sharing Coco!

    1. Thank you, Cindy! These books were super easy to make and you do such a beautiful job painting furniture I know you can knock these out and make them special in no time. Hope you’ve had a great day, CoCo

  9. I’ve used old books for decorating for years but never really painted them (I did paint some with chalkboard paint years ago when that was popular.) I love your waxing idea — I think I’m gonna try it! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm. Pinned! xo Kathleen

    1. So glad you’ll be able to use this idea, Kathleen! It was really easy and makes a huge difference. Especially, if you like the tone on tone look or if you want to use the same color family of books but can’t find them. Hugs, CoCo

  10. I love these books! It looks so easy to do and I’ve put that on my crafting to-do list!
    You always have such great ideas. Thanks so much for sharing this at our Party in Your PJs link party.

    1. So glad you’ll be able to try these, Nina! They were a perfect way to spend a chilly afternoon crafting and super simple to pull together. They’ve also been really easy to decorate with too. Thank you bunches for your sweet words. I hope your day is a blessed one. Hugs, CoCo

  11. Your books look gorgeous CoCo. After studying yours I think I’ll go back and add a bit of wax to the books I painted a few years ago. Look for your feature this week at the Tuesday Turn About Link Party.

    1. Thank you bunches, Michelle! They were a lot of fun to put together and so simple too. I had to leave my books out a few days just to make sure the wax was cured enough so they didn’t stick together but other than that they were easy peasy. Hope your week is a good one. I swear must seem like the longest winter ever to you guys. Hang in there and big hugs, CoCo

  12. These books came out great, CoCo!. The wax really gives them that aged look. Thanks for sharing at Celebrate Your Story! Link Party. You’ve been featured this week 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca, I really appreciate it. I can’t even tell you what a wild week this has been and how much your feature was a bright spot. These books were a lot of fun to put together and so easy too. Sending you hugs and thank yous, CoCo

  13. I love the color your chose and how you made them look so worn and old. They look fantastic! And I don’t think just because painted books came out years ago we should stop painting them or feeling like we are “old news”. I’m speaking for myself. 😉 Pinned this post and wanted to mention we are featuring it on the Farmhouse Friday Link Party tomorrow. Yippee!

    1. Thank you so much for the sweet feature, Cindy, I really appreciate it! I swear I am late to EVERY trend ? It passes me by for years before I discover it again and decide to give it a try. As my sisters would say, “You are SO behind the times CoCo” ? Thankfully, books are one of those fabulous pieces that never go out of style. These painted and weathered books were super easy to make and I know you could dress them up or down in no time. Sending you hugs and thank yous for the feature, CoCo

  14. Coco, I love painting books, but I’ve never added wax to them. Great idea. I actually like the darker wax for an older look. Thanks for sharing that idea.

    1. You are so welcome, Carol! This is the first time I’ve ever tried to paint books before or to try to age them with wax. They were super easy! Even a bit of dark wax goes a long way in helping to achieve a patinaed look. You are super talented so I know you could make a set in your signature blue and white in no time. Big hugs, CoCo

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