Friday, August 26, 2011

Summer Show-Off: Re-Booted Bookcase (and window seat)

We're bookish folks here, and there seems to be no design notion more beloved by bookish folks than displaying their books. And beloved books deserve a lovely display space. So, it only made sense that our first major DIY project of the summer was a reboot for our living room semi-built-in bookcase. Well, except for the fact that it wasn't on our list of top summer to-do's. But whatever. 

Here's the before, first with books, then once we removed everything: 

I say "semi-built-in" b/c while the bookcase (and the window seat with it) were not movable, they also weren't true-blue built-with-the-house built-ins. How do I know? I looked at them, that's how. Legit built-ins are nice, high quality things, usually topped off with molding of some sort (crown or otherwise), and they typically look like they are seamlessly integrated into the room. 

Anyway, the project, from start to finish, actually took months b/c it involved making a valence and my mother making a (fabulous) new cover for the window seat which didn't happen for some time; but the bulk of it took about 4 days, one of which included my mother's effort. Here's what we did and then, of course, the results. 

First we painted the back of the bookcase the same color as the walls (a Martha Stewart color called Burlap in Behr paint*). Then we painted everything else white. We used leftover Behr interior satin paint in Blizzard Fog (BF). This alone was a huge improvement for 2 reasons:

1. The "before" color was a nasty shade of glossy "dinge" (short for "dingy"); and
2. The doors our friend Jack made for us out of the goodness of his heart (read: for free; we didn't even pay for the materials) had never been painted and obviously clashed horribly. 

Third, we used the BF on 2 pieces of decorative molding from Lowe's and 4 decorative wooden squares with a flower design. 

Everything was going smoothly until we tried to remove the ugly bracket-holder thingies that were holding up the shelves: they simply would not move. They and the screws holding them in had been painted over so many times that they were seriously ATTACHED. I thought short of risking ruining the wood by prying them off (which I was NOT prepared to do), we were stuck with them, when Brad ingeniously thought of the heat-gun. Boy, was that a bright idea. Those babies came right off.

Once they were outtie, we sanded the area and painted in BF.

I've kind of lost count, but we'll go with fourth: we measured the length and width of the bookcase, subtracted the size of two of the decorative wood squares, and Brad cut the pieces of molding to fit. We then used wood glue to secure a square in each of the four corners and to secure the pieces of molding to them and the outside of the bookcase

We next used leftover beadboard wallpaper to paper the side of the bookcase and make it look more upscale. I measured all the individual doors and cut and applied squares to fit the centers. We then painted the doors and the centers.

Finally, we determined where we wanted to place the shelves, screwed in new brackets, and painted them BF.

At that point the bookcase proper was done - except for the necessary books and other accoutrements. Styling was the fun part. I went with a sort of color scheme. But only sort of. 

We also made a bunch of other changes: 

-a new valence in Ralph Lauren Eleanor fabric (made by yours truly); 
-a new window seat cover in the same fabric (made by my mother, who spent - gulp - at least 20 hrs. on it); 
-two new pillows I'm not nuts about but that work well enough for now; 
-we switched the old horrible blind for a less horrible one from the upstairs hallway until we find something we like; and 
-we painted the wall (indeed, the whole wall, which stretches from the living room to the hall to the dining room) Bone Folder, another Martha color in Behr paint. (Don't ask me about this atrocious name.) It's a creamy color without two much yellow, and although it's hard to tell when it's nighttime (which is when I took the pictures), in the daylight there's a nice subtle contrast with the color of the bookcase. 

One more shot, this time farther back, just for good measure. (Don't mind the weird paint-less spot to the top right of the valence; that's getting painted very soon, my friend, very soon.)

So, that was our first big task of the warmer months, and we now looooooooooooove the whole area. It's much more "together" and makes the room more "complete" feeling, and it's definitely more convincing as a built-in. I'd say it's finally worthy of all those wonderful books that we've spent years acquiring! Now, we've just got to read them . . .hmmmm, that sounds like a lot of work . . . maybe I'll just admire my bookcase from the across the room . . . 

*We got the Martha color, as with all the Martha colors we use, color-matched in Behr paint b/c the quality of Martha paint ain't what you would expect from the home goddess herself. It goes on too thick, and I can never get rid of the tiny bubbles despite endless stirring. Plus, it's more expensive. 

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