White Painted Books {Prettying Up Ugly Old Books}

I love antique books, but not all antique books are equal.
White Painted Books
Generally, I look for books that have unique covers and illustrations or pretty text.  I also look for books with pages that show their age – especially those whose edges have started to slightly “brown”.  Some books have totally browned pages, and those are pretty, but generally are extremely brittle and fragile.  Unfortunately, some really old books have none of those redeeming qualities and the content isn’t really something desirable today either.
Such was the case of a bunch of antique encyclopedias I brought home a few years ago.  I didn’t purchase them on purpose – they were included in a box lot with other antique books that I did want.  While the raised image on the cover is somewhat interesting, it isn’t enough that you’d want to display it.  The color of the books weren’t quite black and weren’t quite blue – they were something dingy-looking in between.
I love marbled book pages, but the colors and dull look on these books just weren’t doing anything for me.  Even if I don’t like an old book, I won’t throw it away unless it’s totally trashed.  I’ll use the pages for other projects, but when you have thousands of book pages, there is a limit of how many you can realistically repurposed into something else.
Instead, I decided to attempt to pretty them up, so I slapped some white chalk-style paint on them – edges of the pages and all.  I did two coats on the covers, but just dry-brushed the edges of the pages.  Once they dried, I took my palm sander over the whole covers, going a little harder where the raised areas were so they would stand out.  That dingy blue-black color looks much better peeking through the white, and the tattered spine edges look beautiful now – not just beat up.
I still have lots more ugly books, so I plan  to paint a bunch more of them.  I love the difference some white paint and sandpaper can make.  I’ll happily display these books in my home now.



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  1. Painted books? Why didn’t I think of that? I am your pinning queen lately.

  2. Good idea Angie … they look worthy to display now.
    Audrey Z. @ Timeless Treasures.

  3. That is an awesome idea, Angie! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great idea and a great look. Thanks for the idea.

  5. I have been considering painting some books, but after seeing yours, I’ll definitely do it! They look so great!

  6. You’re so smart.

  7. you are the chalk painting queen!

  8. Great idea and so clever to bring new life to these not so pretty books.

  9. This is such a great idea!!! I am pinning this. I have tons of old books that are not at all interesting, this will make them gorgeous. Pinning 🙂

  10. Thanks, Angie! They look great and it sounds easy enough for even me to try it.

  11. Never would have thought of that! Clever..Thanks for posting

  12. What a great idea!!! I have an abundance of lovely old yellowed pages that I’m having a hard time finding projects to do with! So using this technique sounds perfect!!!

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