Around the House: A Brighter Bookshelf

So I haven’t officially done a living room reveal in our home tour series yet, because, well, honestly because it’s just so hard to keep it clean long enough to take pictures. I mean, we live here. That’s why it’s called the living room, right? But I’m working on it. Until then though, I thought I’d share the little project I tackled this past weekend, that just so happens to be in the living room.

But first a little background. You can see from this before picture that our LR is sadly lacking in windows, or really a good light source. Besides the two large windows in the far corner, the next closest natural light source comes from the kitchen. This room is located in the back of the house behind the garage, so there is no option to add a window on one whole side of the room. The other side faces the backyard, complete with ten (yes, 10) large shade trees. So light from the windows we do have is sparing to say the least. (For some reason it’s looking way blown out in this picture. I must have caught this during the one hour a day the sun is directly outside the window.)

So what does any of this have to do with bookshelves? Well, at the same time I painted all our kitchen cabinets a deep chocolate-brown (Valspar Brown Velvet) I also painted our mantle and built-in bookshelf in the living room to match. Since the rooms are connected, I wanted it to tie in together. And it did, and looked great (so-long 90’s golden oak!). Except for one problem. When you paint almost one whole wall of the room nearly black in a room that already has no light, it gets really dark. Like really really dark. Great for movie watching, but that’s pretty much the only plus.

So after living with it for the past year and a half, I finally had enough and decided to make a change. In the form of my favorite medium for change: paint. Paint I did, the back of our bookshelves that is. They’ve gone from looking black in the shadows to a pretty blue (Valspar Academy Gray)that plays nicely with the rest of the room. And the best part is that now you can actually see the items we have on display.

Ok, there are really two best parts, because while we had everything out of the bookshelf, it was the perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and do a little drilling to hide the television wires that have been bothering me for so long. (Remember them from my list of unfinished projects around here? Yes! Another one crossed off the list!)

We have other plans for mounting the TV and hiding the wires above the mantel, but for now, we drilled three holes in the shelf and the Cabinet below. A quick coat of dark paint inside the holes to conceal them, and they are hardly noticeable. Then all we had to do was string the wires through, and hook it all back up!

As for how we picked the color to paint, it was really an economical decision. That is to say, while I debated adding a pop of color, say, lime green, we already had this blue left over from painting our dining room & half bath (yay for no purchase necessary), so blue it was. That’s not to say that I won’t surprise Brettles with a green bookshelf at some point in the future, but for now, cheap won out. And I have to say, so far I really love it. So I’m happy to live with blue for a while and see how it takes.

The process for this was pretty simple, btw. Since I’d already painted the shelves once, and since the color we were painting isn’t too significantly lighter in tone than the brown, I didn’t bother with sanding or priming. I just removed everything, wiped down any dust (not that there’s ever dust in my house..) and applied three coats of paint with a small sponge roller and an angled brush for the corners. Really the biggest issue was living with the mess (you can see the chaos above) for a few hours while everything dried.

Once dry, i just put everything back on display, and called it a day.

Overall the shelving looks much brighter and cheerier, and I’m very happy with it. We even scrounged up a few new accessories to throw into the mix for an all-around updated bookshelf! Not bad for an essentially free project and a few hours of work on a Sunday afternoon, I’d say.

What do you think? Much improved right?

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