Before and After: An “Awful” ’80s Bookshelf Gets a Scandi-Style Upgrade Using IKEA Shelves

published May 14, 2022
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Before: Shiny brown bookcase holding books

There’s nothing like a cozy spot to curl up with a page-turner. It’s great to have a book nook in your home, but not when it’s weighed down by bulky and out-of-date varnished bookcases, like homeowner Tatiana Panopoulou’s was.

Tatiana describes her old bookcase as “awful ’80s furniture” and says she was looking for something “fresh and lighter.”

Because built-in wall-to-wall bookcases are expensive and permanent, Tatiana wanted to work with (mostly) what she already had and to not have to drill into the wall. (Her shelf is secured by four hooks on the upper shelves, but that’s it!)

To pull off her redo, Tatiana kept the bottom piece of her existing bookcase, which she sanded, primed, and painted white with a polyurethane acrylic enamel paint. For the top, she swapped the dark brown shelves with pine IKEA IVARs for a simple-yet-genius result. The new look cost just $300, but boasts a much more modern and Scandi-inspired look.

Another bonus: The taller shelves help to space things out more, and the white paint and light wood brighten the look — and match better with the room’s existing contemporary IKEA lampshade. Tatiana also added new leather pulls to the base’s doors.

Tatiana isn’t losing any storage with her new shelves — only upgrading aesthetics. As she puts it, it’s “a very big and useful bookcase [for a] minimum amount of money.” Her advice is to “think a lot before getting rid of old furniture,” and she loves that she was able to combine old and new.

“I love that it’s something I made by myself,” Tatiana says. ” It’s more my style.”

Tatiana made the ceramics herself, too.

With some decluttering and decor swaps here and there, like the addition of the sheepskin and birch stool from IKEA, Tatiana’s reading corner is lighter, airier, and most importantly, revamped and ready for reading. Her current pick: a thriller by Patricia Highsmith.