July 6, 2011

#151- West Elm Bookcase Inspiration

So here's the thing, these built in, wood paneled cabinets in the Family Room have me in fits.

Especially seen from this few at the bottom of the stairs, that includes the weird china cabinet, it's just a wall of golden wood.

I am literally fighting every desire to break out the white paint and coat these babies in a nice, clean pallet.  I know that we have made a commitment to preserve the architecture of this house and embrace a more natural look, but this wall of wood is just too much for me.  So after a few chants of, "Make the wood work. Make the wood work," I consulted my dear friend the interwebs for advice, and he lead me back to my natural wood inspiration.  My inner peace if you will.  Ohmmmmmm...

Seriously, no one does paneled oak like West Elm, and thank God for that or I would be completely lost in this home.  So how does West Elm handle the large shelving in their stores?  Duo-tone.

Genius!  They still use the wood to give everything a natural feel, but with the insides painted white, it breaks up all the wood and really gives a nice surface for the display items to stand out against.  I figured that I would start out by just painting the backs of every shelf, and go from there.  

But I chickened out.  What if I didn't like it?  What if I liked it now, but in 10 years I was kicking myself for doing it?  I'm an incredibly indecisive person. (Which is primarily the reason why I don't have a tattoo by the way, I can't see myself liking anything today that I won't regret in a few years.)  I've lived in a 90 year old Bungalow and must have cursed the previous decades of owners dozens of times for painting the beautiful wood work, so I knew there was a high chance that I would end up regretting my decision. 

But then inspiration struck.  Instead of painting the backs of the shelves, I could paint a thin, 1/8" hard board sheet white, and simply place those in the back of the shelves.  It would look as though I painted them, but would be totally removable down the road.  And since hardboard is really cheap, it only cost me $17 to alleviate the stress and uncertainly from this project. 

The nice man at Home Depot helped me cut the shelves to the exact measurements, which was key since I had the little man with me, and I can't fit 4'x8' sheathing and a 2 year old in the back of the Jeep.  Ryder wasn't digging the big saw as much as I was at first, but after the kind men in orange outfitted him with the proper gear, he was a regular Bob the Builder.  

Once home, I laid out all my pieces in the garage during nap time, and hit them up first with a coat of primer.

Two coats of a glossy white paint later I was in business.

Since the boards are very light, I just used velcro tape to secure them into each shelf.  That, and the horizontal shelves replaced securely in front of each piece should hold them in there to years to come, or at least until I change my mind and decide that this was all a bad idea.  Here's how it looks:

Ignore the items on the shelves, I'm just beginning to get this set up the way I want it and nothing is final at this point.

Once the beautiful white backs were in though, the gross brass shelf tracks seemed to pop out at me and scream "I'm from the 80's and I want everyone to know it!"  So I stopped my progress to come up with a plan- more on that tomorrow.  In the mean time, I'd love to hear what you would have done.  Would you have just painted the backs- or the whole shelves white?  Anybody else think that the non-committal back boards were a good idea?  Because if you don't, I can just remove them.  And that my friends, is the whole point. 


  1. This is actually a fantastic idea. So clever! Well done you, I would ever have thought of it.

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