Before and After: Stylish DIY Bookshelves Make This Living Room Extra Dreamy

published Apr 22, 2020
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About this before & after
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Before: beige living room with beige carpeting and semi-flushmount overhead light

Book lovers, get ready for a makeover that will steal your heart (and this one goes beyond just bookcases). This room started as a beige box catchall for Jessica Nickerson (House Homemade) and her family, but it did contain a lot of books and what Jessica calls “random furniture.” But a year after living in their home, they were ready to turn this catchall into a cozy, functional reading room. Jessica envisioned dark, earthy colors on the walls, paired with monochromatic seating—a look that she was able to kick off with some secondhand finds. “My vision came to life when I scored two great chairs on Facebook Marketplace for $130 for the pair,” Jessica says—the velvety green chairs shown above are where it all started. Inspired by their color, Jessica chose a soothing mossy green paint (Sherwin-Williams’s Retreat). “From there, my face looked like that heart eyes emoji and a plan was born,” Jessica says.

“I love my husband and he loves reading so I wanted to give him the most special space I could,” Jessica says. That started with ripping out the old beige carpet, and installing a new rug on the floor with a faded vintage look. Of course, the walls got their green paint-over, and Jessica ended up taking over the ceiling, too. “My original plans did not include painting the ceiling but I really wanted this space to feel relaxing, calming, and cozy,” she says.

A sleek new ceiling fan replaced the dated flush-mount light, and faux leather on the louvered door panels makes the set look brand new.

The hefty new bookshelves were a DIY; their wood finish offers a warm contrast to the green walls. In between, Jessica added a dresser for yet more storage. She’d fallen in love with one that topped $600, but didn’t want to spend so much—so she created this one by customizing an IKEA TARVA dresser, which costs just $149. Jessica also added sconces from IKEA to the bookshelf wall to provide some soft lighting.

On the wall by the door, Jessica added some unique custom artwork: framed salt shakers that belonged to her grandparents. Jessica used IKEA frames and glued the salt shakers to a background made of a thrifted linen shirt.

The project took six weeks and although it wasn’t cheap, Jessica was able to save a lot of money by DIYing as much as possible, choosing secondhand furniture, and buying large items—like the new rug—on sale. The result is a “moody, functional reading room” that Jessica predicts will get lots of use. “I wanted to give my husband a place to put all of his books and for him to enjoy reading them in a kind of sanctuary,” she says. “I picture him in this room for years to come and it makes me smile.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.