Adam and I honestly love our (not really so) little apartment. It’s a full-sized one-bedroom with separate living and dining rooms, we have a backyard, a porch…there’s a lot to be grateful for. The entire apartment, however, is wallpapered in a beige linen-texture. It could be much worse, we’re aware, but we’ve been looking for ways to add pops of color to the rooms without painting the walls, which we can’t do. (Oh, how I can’t wait for us to have a home of our own someday where I can go nuts with the color…)
For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of painting the back of one of our bookcases, or wallpapering/scrapbook-papering the back, to add some color and visual interest. Couple that with an inspiring post I saw on Pinterest recently for some “styled” bookcases, and I was hoping that this little project could add a big impact. Adam was 100% on board, so we got to work!
This is our bookcase before (I have a ton of books and never enough places to put them). It was cluttered, messy, and overflowing.
After emptying the bookcase, Adam suggested we paint the kickplate along with the backs of the shelves, and he got to work sanding it down a bit.
I had bought some Valspar brightly-colored paint samples last summer for a leaf painting project (inspired by these), and we decided to go with Organic Garden for this project, a bright (but not TOO bright) springy green. After Adam finished sanding (and went off to make lunch!), I got to work.
I put two coats on, didn’t tape the shelves off at all….just painted carefully and got rid of any smudges with a damp paper towel.
After the paint dried, we sat together on the floor and made stacks of all of our books by color…and started arranging! We didn’t know how were going to set things up when we started, but it just sort of flowed organically. And then we went on an apartment-wide hunt for tchotchkes to style the shelves with. I’m happy to say that we don’t have a lot of “things” just hanging around, so that part actually wasn’t easy…but I can’t tell you how completely thrilled I am with the final product.
Here’s the top – along the very top we arranged a photo of my sister and I from her wedding, a nice blue ceramic center bowl, and a white pillar candle in a clear glass hurricane. On the first shelf there’s a stack of white books on the left, purple books on the right, and in the center a framed photo of Cinque Terre in Italy and a small bud jar full of sea glass I collected on beaches in Europe.
The second shelf has a stack of red books in the middle, flanked on one side by a little New York City-themed espresso cup and saucer from Fish’s Eddy and a mosaic glass clock I bought in Venice, and on the other by a pretty little framed sketch that the boyfriend of my roommate while I was studying abroad in Bologna drew for me at the dinner table over wine and pasta one night.
The third shelf has two stacks of books, one black and one light blue and green, with a vase I’ve had forever. I think a friend gave me flowers in that on my birthday perhaps during my senior year of high school.
Finally, the bottom is just books books books. We figured we had to do something with more of them than just stash them in a closet, and we own some really lovely and phenomenal cookbooks that I wanted displayed in some fashion. So the bottom is yellow/orange, bright blue, and white to give a range of colors.
After we finished we made an end table-type stack out of all of my huge coffee table art books, and moved back in the reclining wing chair my parents had given us. I love our little reading nook, now greatly tidied and classed up, in my opinion.
The main thing to take away from this is that a pop of color on the back of a bookcase can transform the whole look of the room. Add in some favorite photos or personal mementos, and in just a few hours and for the price of a sample container of paint and a brush, you’ve got a whole new modern look.