Good Questions Revisted: Ideas for Built-in Shelf Area?

Meredtith (aka mwzoe) sent us a follow up email. She writes: Thank you and the 76(!) people who responded to my good question about a weird plant shelf in my living room You guys inspired me to make some changes for the better, and I would love to hear what else you might have to say about our room in transition...

In regards to the nook itself, we went with storage containers. Even though we live close the beach, I couldn't find any driftwood that fit that bill. If I had, I would have taken that wonderful suggestion. We already have a separate library lined with books. Between the library and our offices, we aren't in need of additional book storage, but I agree with those that felt it would look snazzy.

We opted for gray plastic sterile totes to match our newly gray walls (more on that in a sec). The totes cost $3.50 a piece at Target. These totes weren't the prettiest option; my favorite magazine storage boxes from West Elm cost almost 50 bucks a piece! I opted for a closed container because of the price and the dust issue. They opened up a lot of space in the garage and closets.

The commenters inspired us to make a few other changes:
• New wall color. Olympic's Going Grey (D-57-2). Around $60 for 3 cans of paint plus $15 for a gallon of primer. I don't miss the wall-to-wall beige at all.
• Pure Design end table for $50 on Craigslist. I'm hoping to find a mid-century modern step table for the other end of the couch from Craigslist (of course...also the source of the china cabinet).
• Vintage mid-century shadowbox beveled wall mirror. $45 on Craigslist. Its twin is listed on eBay starting at $390 .
• The other additions were lying around the house. The glass on top of the china cabinet was on clearance at Red Envelop last summer. The spray roses are sitting in a vintage jar I found at a yard sale at least 5 years ago. The blue pillow was pricey; it's hand appliqued felt from a local artist.
Combine these costs with the $31.50 I spent on the nine storage containers, and I think I got a lot of bang for my buck.

If I haven't already exhausted your goodwill, please feel free to make more suggestions. I fear a rug in front of the china cabinet might look odd since the area is more a pass-through. There is a four footish area in front of the hutch that leads into the wall that begins the breakfast bar. I know it's hard to tell from the pictures.

I really do appreciate your feedback on our room. Thank you all very much.

Thanks for the update, Meredith!

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