A Fine Victorian Bookcase

Painting is a passion, but it’s always more pleasurable when you’re commissioned to work on a piece that has fine form even in its naked unpainted state. And this handsome Victorian bookcase in rich brown mahogany was one of those examples.

In fact some would be horrified to see this lovely quality antique touched by a paintbrush at all! Not me though. When I first eye a piece up I start to imagine the possibilities, I think about how it can be transformed by a change in colour…then I simply can’t wait to get going!

For this bespoke commission after a consultation with my client,  the important decision was made. The chosen colours were Annie Sloan’s ‘Paris Grey’ for the exterior and ‘Old White’ for the interior – very good choices, both compliment each other perfectly in my opinion.

First to the necessary, painstaking preparation work…dismantling, cleaning, taping up of glass…



Next onto the part I enjoy most – putting down the first brushstroke…I could liken this to the first kiss! It’s certainly where the magic begins for me. And you just have to be patient and have faith.

Annie Sloan ‘Old White’ chalk paint goes on, layer by layer…


Until you get a bookcase base that looks like this!


Even the interior gets a makeover…


I love to contrast different colours and hues (think Showaddawady and their contrasting coloured teddy boy suits – if anyone remembers them?!), so the bookcase base interior was painted in gorgeous Annie Sloan ‘French Linen’ chalk paint.


For the top half with the lovely glass doors, I started by giving the whole area a solid base of ‘Old White’. I layered on lashings of Annie Sloan ‘Old White’ chalk paint (and trust me, I mean lashings!).


Finally, white stage completed, time to have some fun with layering on some colour – painterly brushmarks of beautiful ‘Paris Grey’.




I deliberately kept some white showing through the brushstrokes, ready for the grey top layers to be knocked back.


And what the finished piece looked like days later…


Bookcase with contrasting interiors





Job done, I have to admit I was rather proud to see this fine piece off to its’ new home, and I hope the new owners enjoy it as much as I have. Bye bye handsome…it’s been a fun journey!


Painted bookcase