Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bookcase Bliss

My beloved bed is already tall, and with my thick mattress and boxspring, it measures in around 33” from the floor. Although I have two end tables that I love and wish worked as nightstands, I quickly came to the conclusion that they looked like doll furniture next to my big girl bed. I searched for craigslist for a while to find something tall enough to meet the mattress height and wide enough to look reasonable in the space, but never found anything to my liking.

I’ve always liked bookshelves because they give space to display a combination of books and items that make a room look collected and personal. I also like the look of bookshelves creating a cove for a piece of furniture, making the furniture look like it was built for that space. While this look is better achieved with actual built-in, larger scale bookcases, I decided to try it with slightly smaller ones flanking my bed. This also gave me a good place to put my magazines and books, which I was lacking in my new room.

I bought two white bookshelves from Target for $19.99 each:

Target Bookcase
I’ve seen quite a few examples of bookcases with painted backgrounds, and I really like the contrast and depth that it adds. To make my cheapo composite bookshelves look more custom, I painted the backing of them gray using a color sample from Home Depot. Color samples are great for small painting projects – they are always eggshell and you can get any color you want for only about $3.

Painting the backing wasn’t as easy as I hoped it would be. The backing is just cardboard, but it has a glossy paper on the front that the paint did not want to take to. At first I tried to roll the paint color on, but it just pooled up and didn’t stick to the surface. So I tried priming it, which worked only marginally better. I determined that I couldn’t use a roller and instead spread the primer on with a foam brush. It took two coats of primer to completely cover the backing and create a surface that would take the paint.

I applied two coats of gray paint on each backing and had to touch up spots after it dried. I then let it dry overnight, since the cardboard had absorbed some moisture.

The next day I nailed the backing to each book shelf by laying the bookshelf flat and lining up the top and sides so that the gray didn’t show out on the top or sides. I put four nails along the top and bottom row: 2 on the corners and one right next to each seem of the backing (which was folded in the book). I spread three nails out along the sides between the corner nails. On one bookshelf, I threaded my clock radio cord between the shelf and backing so that I could place it on one of the bookshelves.


I still have some work to do when it comes to arranging the items on the bookcase, but here are a few tips I've come up with so far to help you organize your bookcase:
  • Try to alternate the side of the shelf that you put books and knick nacks on. For example, I put books on the left side of the bottom shelf, on the right side of the middle shelf, and the left side of the top shelf. 
  • Instead of standing your books upright, stack them and put a little accessory on top of them.
  • Play with the color of the books. I like to group like colors together when I can.
  • Use funky book ends to add interest to the space. I got the bronze horses from my grandma's house, and I picked up that little owl from HomeGoods for $7.
  • Know that bookshelves, especially ones next to your bed, will like be a work in progress for a bit. It's important to understand how you will use the space and what you want to be able to reach while you're in bed. I'll still working on the bookshelf to the left of my bed (top picture). You can see that it's looking a little unbalanced with the magazines, books with kind of funny colors, and clock radio on a shelf.

The color is subtle, which is what I was going for. I’m very pleased with the result, especially knowing that I could potentially go with a more dramatic color if I choose. I also like having multiple shelves to place my items on, and a relatively clear surface to place my tv remote a glass of water before bed.
The materials I used for this project include:

·         2 Target Bookshelves, $19.99 each
·         2 mini paint trays (about $1 each)
·         Paint roller – had on hand
·         Foam brush – had on hand
·         Primer – had on hand
·         Gray Martha Stewart Sample Paint, $3

Total: about $45 for two nightstands

I don't know if I'll live with this solution forever, but it definitely works for me right now. It was one of the cheapest, most practical options for two matching nightstands, and I like that the bookshelves can look similar but aren't identical like a nightstand would be.

Have you come up with an inexpensive option for nightstands or end tables at home?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

From Bedroom Blues to Beautiful Blue Bedroom

Well, I’ve managed to go a month without posting again. Although it may not look like it, I have actually been knocking out projects and doing plenty of other things. But for whatever reason, I’ve also had a hard time coming home and writing blog posts and posting pictures. Today I’ve finally found some motivation, so the next few posts will be about what I’ve been up to over the past few weeks home improvement-wise.

Remember my previous post that mentioned a certain plain white room? Well, I FINALLY painted it. Two coats. By myself.  And it’s the master bedroom, so it’s probably meant to be a two person job, right?

Here's what the room looked like before:

Excuse the mess. I'd like to say that the clothes on the bed aren't a regular thing, but that's almost always what my bed looks like when I get home from work.

Like the paint samples on every wall in the room? For a little while I was paralyzed by indecision, trying to pick a color in the same family as my bedspread but not the same exact shade of blue-green. Let's just say I'm still trying to figure out how to make the most of all my leftover color sample selection. Also, the paper over my bed is in the shape of a mirror I bought at Home Goods, and I was trying to see how the proportion of the mirror to the bed looked. More on that later.

I decided to paint the room Blue Bonnet by Benjamin Moore. I’ve used Benjamin Moore many times before, and even though it’s a little pricier, it covers really well and goes on easily, so I figured that the time I might save with it would be worth the price. BM Regal paints sell for $45 - $50 around here, and I really couldn’t spend that much money. I ended up buying the newer low-VOC Ben paint, which is on the cheaper side and a bit greener than the Regal paints. Rather than purchasing it from a paint store nearby, I ordered two gallons from Each gallon was $33, and I got free shipping since my order was greater than $50. Oh yeah, and since the place is located in New Jersey and I’m in Virginia, I didn’t have to pay tax. The price was good for Benjamin Moore paint, but the most impressive part was that I ordered the paint on 12:38 PM on a Tuesday, and it was on my front porch the next afternoon.

At first I intended to paint the woodwork in my room, and I started by priming one wall of it. Then I realized that I didn’t really need to prime, because I didn’t need to seal any stains or cover dark colors. So I just started putting color on the walls. It took two coats to cover the room and only one gallon of paint. Once I had finished the color, I was pretty pooped and made the executive decision that in this rental unit, painting the woodwork was not worth the time or energy. So I had to match the color the woodwork is currently painted and paint back the trim that I primed. This is the part where I say “Idiot” in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice. It took me longer than I wanted it to, but I finally finished the painting project.

Here’s the room:

No, my winter/Christmas decorations aren't still up. As you can see from this snowflake pillow, this pic was taken a while ago.

Basically I love love love the color. It’s actually a more blue-green/aqua than it’s currently appearing on my screen.  The color is a lighter shade of the blue in my comforter and the shade of blue that makes me happiest.

I also LOVE the mirror, which I bought from Home Goods for $50 (an amount I consider a splurge for my wall art). I searched forever for some piece of art that I loved enough to have it hanging over my head while I sleep serenely in my princess throne/bed. But I just couldn’t find anything worthy. So I settled on a geometric reflective surface. I am quite happy with my new over the bed art...even if it’s breakable.

More progress updates to come!
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