Thursday, January 26, 2017

Updating a Bookshelf with Paint

Built-in bookshelves are grand...except when they are not 😕. And these bookshelves that are along the staircase to the library wall have bothered me since we moved in to our old schoolhouse.

They are dark, glossy, cheap wood and the shelves are very short--intended for paperback books.  In addition, there were blocks of 2" x 6" boards placed (not secured) along the back to push the books forward I guess.
before picture of a built in bookshelf
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So, when the Christmas decor came off the shelves this month I removed all of the wood blocks and took a hammer to the top shelf to get rid of it.
before picture of a bookshelf
I used the same grey as on my gallery wall (see HERE), but in a semi-gloss finish.
a built in bookshelf painted gray
I did use a grey tinted primer (Kilz brand) first, and then painted two light coats of the latex paint.  I am so happy with the lighter color. 
style a bookshelf with vintage finds
The fun part is curating the "stuff" to sit on the bookshelf, which will change some with the different seasons and holidays.  I picked out any tan or brown old books from the library.  I love using old books in the color you are currently decorating with or want to "feature" for the season.
antique books add interest to a bookshelf
This 1890 Longfellow book is a favorite.
antique Longfellow book with a leather cover
A friend gave me the mirrors when they were moving.  
old books and rustic mirrors
I added a spider plant that I pulled out of the ground in our solarium.   It seems to be doing well so far.  The geoshape got a fresh coat of copper paint (Fusion Mineral Paint). The old wood bobbins were left here by the previous owner. (find some HERE)
spider plant trend for 2017
My thrift store vintage suitcase has been with me for many years-- the little tag hanging off of the handle was there when I bought it. (See Reproduction Suitcases HERE)
Vintage textile bobbins on a painted bookshelf
I moved my checkers table over by the stairs and the checkers are now in the little wood bowl, while the vintage anagrams are in a larger wood bowl. The turquoise lantern is a garage sale find. (Similar lantern HERE)
use paint to update a built in bookshelf
I used some old decanters to add a little height--I filled them with colored water.  
The bookshelf with the fresh, lighter paint s now a nice focal point in my great room.  I love how easily paint updates outdated things!  What have you painted lately?


  1. That transformed the space into a lovely focal point, Becky! I love the pieces you chose to decorate'll have fun playing there all year!

    1. Thank you Linda--I love getting projects done around the house!

  2. Great update to the shelves, much brighter and useful. Nothing like putting away the Christmas decorations to make a gal wanna smash something with a hammer.

    1. Thanks Bliss! Smashing stuff is fun, I am considering hitting the pink tile on my kitchen island next!

  3. Wow I must admit when you said bookcase I said "where"? What a difference!! Amazing !! Decor is great and the suitcase..perfect touch!

  4. Wow! What a great transformation. It looks great. I love the old books. Nice job!

    1. Thank you Katz! I love finding great old books at the thrift stores.

  5. Oh It looks much better, the lighter color paint really makes a big difference
    That little suitcase looks good there

    1. Thanks! The little suitcase is filled with my favorite Mary Englebreit magazines from year's past that I can't seem to part with!

  6. Looks awesome! I have some crappy bookshelves that arent real wood that i need to tackle soon and give some color to.

    1. Thanks, I am so happy with how this turned out. It makes such a difference!

  7. Love how you changed look of shelves by taking out one board and repainting. All your goodies arranged just so make such an incredible difference, love how they look now. So wish could find vintage suitcase, can do so many kinds of arrangements with them. The little tag is perfect.
    It does feel good to get little projects done. Must be some kind of human need to accomplish, be able to check off that one chore. Makes me realize what I should be doing, lol.
    Want to go to Hobby Lobby, see what treasures are on clearance, nothing I love better than bargains. Get a faux jadeite cake stand at Michaels with my 50% off coupon.
    Have wonderful weekend Becky

    1. Thank you! Yes, the check it off the list feeling is grand. It is sort of like exercising, never seem motivated to get started, but always feels so good when it is done. There are definitely some fun things at Michaels for decor.

  8. What a stunning update!! Love all the accents. Beautifully done


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