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Debbie Hayes

Bling Up Your Bookshelves with Stenciled and Gilded Books DIY

Stenciled and Gilded Books DIY via Paint + Pattern

Recently in honor of Paint+Pattern’s celebration of France I posted about the gilding of the Palace of Versailles that had  eye-popping over-the-top gold everywhere. Glorious eye candy for us regular folks. But there’s no reason why we can’t enjoy an easy gilding project using discarded hardcover books. A shelf full of these pretty accents could give your space a rich and decadent feel.

Books are all the rage as interior accents right now – without covers, piled high, ornate, découpaged and painted like objécts d’art. So how about making our own? Beautifully patterned books, softly aged and almost befitting a palace! This stenciled and gilded books DIY could give a perfect vintage look for our own home décor or could make for a beautiful and thoughtfully handmade gift as well.

I like to paint several books at one time since several are almost as fast as one, but you can try just one to get the feel of this project.

Supplies for stenciled and gilded books DIY | Paint + Pattern


Chalk paint layer for the Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern


Paint one to two coats of Versailles Chalk Paint® on the book covers, edges and up to ½” on the inside of the book covers. Let dry.

Using stencil size to create tack for the gold leaf | Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern


Use a small brush to paint a thin coat of Clear Stencil Size on top of the chalk painted areas. Let dry. (I used too much in the photo so you could see the product. Typically a thin coat should be plenty.)

Applying gold leaf to book covers for Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern


Tear off one sheet of gold leaf along with its backing paper. Turn it over and lay it on top of the book cover, ensuring slight overlap to wrap around the edges and the insides of the cover. Continue to add the gold leaf until all of the painted areas are covered. A miss here and there is fine. Once done, crumple up a sheet of wax paper and rub it over the gilded areas, pressing the leaf into the size. Continue rubbing until all of the gold is compressed. Finish this step by cleaning up your surface to avoid the excess gold leaf from sticking back to the books (you’ll probably want to vacuum).

Layering gold leaf with chalk paint to get vintage look for Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern

Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern


Next, pour a small amount of Old White Chalk Paint® into a container, add about one third of water and stir. Use a clean brush and wash some paint over the book covers, skipping some spots so the gold leaf can shine through. If you add too much paint, just wipe it off with a damp rag. Dry and start over. If you’d like to dull the look of gold, add lots of wash over your gilded books, but if you like the shine, add just a little. Be sure to cover the edge and the inside area of the gold leaf. Let dry.

Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern


Open the book up from the middle and lay face down flat on a surface. Place the French Menu Lettering Stencil over the book and use the Coco Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® to stencil with. I skipped the area of the book spine, but you could stencil that too if you like. Let dry.


Lightly sand all over to expose some of the Versailles chalk paint color and distress to your personal liking.

Accessorizing with antique keys for Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern

The following two steps are only to add a couple of detail touch ups and can be completely optional.

STEP SEVEN- Optional – Color Page Edges

You could paint the edges of the pages of your books to complete the look. I used the Versailles, but you could use any other leftover colors too.  Stand the book up with the pages facing you. Grab the pages tightly with one hand and use the other hand to paint all the three sides. Let dry.

Distressing and accessorizing for Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern

STEP EIGHT – Optional – Accessorize

Stand the book up vertically and pull the covers all the way back to create a small gap between the spine of the book and the bound pages. Attach an old key or chandelier crystal to an approx. 18” of jute and push the jute through the opening as shown above.

Stenciled and Gilded book cover DIY | Paint + Pattern

What do you think? Visualize an entire bookcase full of artfully arranged gilded books. Don’t you think it would make for a stunning focal point?

I think I am going to again take off to the used bookstore for more (often free) books soon! If you end up trying the above DIY, be sure to share your pictures with us. We would love to see how it turns out for you. For several such easy and fun stencil ideas, you can visit Royal Design Studio’s Stencil Ideas blog. They share some cool and easy projects done by other customers as well as some quick and fun ideas they do in their own workshop.

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects


  1. Regina

    This is very cool – and so versatile! You could use any color that works with your home and also an array of stencil patterns as well to make an inviting artful arrangement. <3

  2. Melanie Royals

    Thanks for sharing another great stencil project Debbie!! I think these would make great Christmas gifts and/or decorations too!! 🙂

  3. Debbie Hayes

    Thank Regina and Melanie. I am addicted to painting and stenciling books lately!

  4. I can’t believe I found this just today! I have collected a few old French letters with books in mind but love the idea of using gold leaf and stencils. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent.

  5. Debbie Hayes

    Hi Dianne!

    Glad to hear from you! I am addicted to painting and stenciling books. Love to see what you do!

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