From the first day we walked through this home, before we even moved in, I knew I wanted to paint this bookshelf! When we bought the home the walls and ceilings were a mocha brown and the floors were brown hardwood. So the orangey-brown oak shelves were just too much additional brown. The bookshelf is located in the main living room right as you walk in the door. They stuck out like a large ominous presence and I couldn’t wait to give them a makeover! I knew eventually we would tear them out, but in the meantime, painting them would be the simplest way to give this oak built-in bookshelf a makeover.
However, once I started to consider the idea of painting them, I realized I had several options of colors I might like them in. Then I got cold feet. The piece is already so large that it felt intimidating to paint it a color I would end up regretting! I went back and forth, then the school year came on and I ran out of motivation and time.
As much as I love DIY projects, tackling this project was definitely going to require a commitment. I knew I would need to love it before I was ready to get in there and do the work!
Deciding on a color
My first choice for color was to paint it the same color white as we have on the walls in this room so that it would recede and give a more cohesive look to the room. I also liked the idea of having them in a light shade so that the decor would pop more on the shelves. But, then I saw a black built-in picture on Pinterest and got derailed again! (We had painted a planked wall in our office black and loved it.) I even considered some colors! Shocker! 😉 I finally realized after some deliberation and Pinterest pinning, I was going to like the white the most and likely for the longest.
I realized that the bookshelves are not visually pleasing, so drawing more attention to them with a bold color wasn’t as good of a design choice. If they had more architectural interest it would be more worthy of a bold color. Since, I realized we needed to just make it blend into the room more, I should paint them a color to help them recede not pop. They really just loomed large in the room and made the space feel smaller, so a light color would help shrink them and also give cohesion to the room’s color palette
We chose our favorite white, the same one in the room, Sherwin Williams Pure White. If you wan to try this color in your home, I suggest painting it on several places where the light differs so you can get a good idea of how it will look.
The first step to prep this hutch for paint was to take out all of the shelves and hardware for the shelves. I actually put them on a bakers rack we picked up used that we’ve had for years we use for projects such as this!
Next, I cleaned them with TSP really thoroughly. Then I sanded every nook and cranny with a sanding sponge. After wiping them down, I primed them with one coat of Superblock primer by Sherwin Williams. I used a roller for the flat surfaces and a paintbrush for cutting in the corners and edges. Finally, I was able to paint the first of 2 coats! After I would paint a coat on the base, I would paint a coat on the shelves switching between them.
My only setback was a windstorm that blew my shelves over on my patio where they were drying on their last coat! My hubby had to come to my rescue and fix one that had cracked. The rest I was able to touch up after we reinstalled them. Overall, it wasn’t too big a deal.
Finally, after curing for a good 2 days, they were ready to decorate! I really love how the decor pops with the contrast now! I am more excited to get to decorate these with the seasons now.
Our final step in this makeover was to paint the fireplace with a matte black spray paint. After a thorough cleaning, and light sanding with steel wool, we taped off the bookcase and glass with painter’s tape and plastic. Then we used this paint by rustoleum and did several fine mist coats on the metal and tile at the same time.
I am so thrilled with how this turned out! Not only is it much more updated, it is my new favorite decor piece in the house! It’s going to be so fun to decorate this for the seasons!
The steps for this oak built-in bookshelf makeover
- Remove bookshelves and hardware (when possible)
- Clean all surfaces with TSP or degreaser
- Sand surface area with a sanding sponge
- Paint with 1 coat of primer with a roller, using a brush for cutting in the corners and edges
- Paint 2 coats of paint
- Let the paint cure for a minimum of 48 hrs before decorating on the flat surfaces
- Prep the fireplace- clean the metal and tile with a degreaser. Lightly sand the metal with steel wool
- Tape off and plastic around the fireplace and cover the glass with painter’s tape and plastic
- Using spray paint, paint several light coats around the surrounding tile and metal frame
- Let dry most of the way before removing tape and plastic
- DECORATE and enjoy your new modern bookcases!
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I hope this post gives you the inspiration to try a makeover on a piece that you feel is the big ugly elephant in the room! Who knows, it could become your new favorite area of your home!
More budget makeover posts you might enjoy:
- Powder bath makeover
- Renter friendly bathroom makeover under $300
- Homeschool room makeover
- How I decorate on a budget and plan my design
Until next time! Thanks for joining me here in my little corner!