Friday, February 18, 2011

Styling Bookcases Part 2

I just re-did a pair of bookcases in my family room.  I purchased them from a consignment shop and had to sand, prime, and paint them.  The color I used was Benjamin Moore Pittsfield Buff.  

Here's the before ( after painting)

Notice that they were missing their backs.  I think that's because they were originally built-ins.
I decided that I would add some fabric to the back rather than adding some bead board.  
I basically cut the fabric a little larger than the opening.  I used a cardboard upholstery tack strip across the top to make sure the top was straight.  I used my electric staple gun to hold it in place. ( You must invest in an electric staple gun.  So much easier on your wrists.)
You can purchase the tack strip  here.  I purchased the roll for $3.99 for 500 feet.  If you're not going to do more upholstery though,  I've found it before at fabric stores being sold by the yard.
I included the link so you'd see what it looks like.
I use it all the time when I'm attaching cording to chair seats.  It keeps the cording straight so you don't have to use so many staples.
Here's how I used it to attach the top of the fabric to the back of the bookcase .

And just FYI, here's how I use it when adding cording to the bottom of a chair seat.  Totally unrelated, I know, but good info.

Once you attach the fabric to the top with your staple gun, staple once in the bottom center, then in the center of each of the side pieces.  Continue stapling around the remaining three sides.  Make sure that the fabric is pulled very tightly.  You could add a piece of foam core on the back on top of the fabric for extra support if you want.   I just counted on the wall for support.

Here's the after with the fabric.

Next, the styled version.  Please view my previous post, here, if you want some tips about item selection, balance, placement, and symmetry.

This is the left bookcase after styling.

This is the right bookcase after styling.

If you've read my previous post you know that I love to use books and architectural fragments when styling a bookcase.  To this mix I decided to add birds, nests, emu and ostrich eggs, tortoise shells--real and faux--and even a piece of coral resting on a book.  I called these nature-inspired shelves my Cabinets of Curiosities.
The bird prints on easels are vintage.  The largest bottle in the grouping of apothecary jars holds feathers.  Mirrors serve as backdrops for the tortoise shell and the ostrich egg.
You know how I love cloches.  I found one that not only fit perfectly on a mirrored dresser tray, but which had the word Nest etched onto it.  The emu egg on a stand fits perfectly within.
My pops of color come from the green in the transferware plates with birds, the mirror with a velvet frame,  the vintage English tile, the deep green egg, and the gold on the book spines.  
Completing the space between the bookcases is a sunburst mirror.   Surprise!   Framed architectural reference book plates and an iron bird are reflected in it.

I added a pair of slip covered slipper chairs in the foreground, and a vintage deco table with a lamp. A smaller bird print in a burled frame is on the table too.
I had the chairs covered in a neutral fabric-- something that I never do-- but I wanted them to match anywhere I put them.   I ended up hating how bland they were, even with a  pillow, so I added the strip of Robert Allen Ikat fabric and some awning stripe pillows to make them more appealing.   What do you think?
I don't know if you can make out the top of the table.  It's a mirrored top with a mirror bullseye in the center.

I want to share one more image.  It's an area rug  I found  at Tuesday Morning.  If you watched my segment on The Nate Berkus Show
you know that I received a gift certificate from Nate to Tuesday Morning.  I was very excited when I found this rug.  I knew it would work in the family room.  What a great find AND what a great price.  Thanks Nate.

Be sure to let me know how your bookcase styling turns out.
What do you think about using fabric as a backing?


  1. This is AWESOME !.. you are so talented.. and you can tell you enjoy what you are doing ! LOve it Kath !

  2. I really like this...great colors, great mix of patterns, feels very layered, comfy and library like.
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. wow... you are so talented. I love this look. Its unique and stylish..

  4. Amazing! And I appreciate the tip about how to ttach molding to the underside of the chair (or ottomoan for that matter.) I'd always wondered how that was done. Beautifully styled shelves.

  5. whoa, love the fabric in the builtins, and that rug. great space!

  6. Stunning. I love that you are not afraid to mix pattern and colors. I am getting ready to post a decorating quandry to my post this week about my living room. I am looking at a patterned chair and wondering about putting it on a black and white stripe rug. According to you this would work right?
    Pam @ BeColorful

  7. Saying HI from THE GIRL CREATIVE! Your project is stunning! Love the book cases!

  8. LOVE your style with all the color and prints. I would love to have a couple of bookshelves to makeover like that.

    Thanks for sharing!

  9. Great Idea Kathy! {keep up the good work!}

  10. I love it! Its creative and I love the zig zag your rug also.

  11. It look really, really great! And finding the bookcases must have felt pretty exciting too. Beautiful.

  12. I love the chevron pattern!

  13. kat hy can you bring those to the blogger brunch so i can have those??? ;) i love them! awesome awesome!

  14. I love them too! So chic!
    Kate @

  15. Love it, and easy to change if you want to!