Before and After: A Dull Living Room Corner Becomes a Design Feature for Around $500

published Jul 18, 2022
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Before: China cabinet in indented corner in room
Credit: Lara Lucas

Design and decor lovers know that shelves (whether built-in or big-box brand bookshelves) are super fun to rearrange and tinker with. Blob-shaped candles, books arranged by color, funky-shaped vases, collectibles, or personal mementos? Add a little bit of everything! Or rotate them in and out, depending on the season — or your mood. DIYer Lara Lucas (@inside_the_painted_door) says rearranging her new built-in shelves is “the perfect way to waste some time!”

“As the seasons change I like to swap my decor,” Lara adds. But before she had the perfect playground to experiment decor-wise, she just had a boring alcove in her living room.

Credit: Lara Lucas

“The previous owners had a dresser situated in the space, but in my opinion it was too small and looked bare,” Lara says. “The dark wood didn’t stand out and got lost against the blue wall… I had always liked the idea of chunky, floating shelving that I could style and change as and when I wanted.”

Lara and her husband found a supplier on Amazon who sold reclaimed wood shelving and cut them to the exact measurements. The shelves were almost as dark as the dresser in the space beforehand, so Lara decided to lighten up the walls with a more gray-blue shade (Farrow & Ball’s De Nimes). The paint for the living room cost about $55, and the shelves cost a little over $100 each

Credit: Lara Lucas

Once the painting was done, Lara’s husband fitted the shelves using large pins drilled into the wall, then used a mallet to tap them into place. Lara’s advice when it comes to installing shelves into an alcove like hers is to make sure to measure very, very carefully. “The last thing you want is a shelf that’s an inch too short,” she says.

Once the shelving was in, Lara and her husband thought the the empty space at the bottom needed something. Lara had the idea to build a very simple box with two sections for storage, and her husband drew up a plan and hand-built the custom log and wine storage. “It slides perfectly into place and feels all the more special as it was completely bespoke,” Lara says.

Finally, Lara came in with decor. “I like to mix it up with vintage pieces that are meaningful and modern decorative items I think look good together,” she says. “I keep to lighter colors or natural wood so they pop against the darker color of the wall and use the rule of three when it comes to styling.”

The result? A personal, thoughtful, visually interesting corner that Lara can update with her latest finds and change as seasons and trends shift — all for $500.