Custom Bookshelves

At this point, I've shared a few peeks into most of the rooms in our house. But have you noticed this blog has been fairly bare of any master bedroom photos? This isn't because I'm forgetful, it's because, at the moment, our bedroom is... well, forgettable. When we moved in, we had a good idea with what we wanted to do with every room in the house, except the room we sleep in. We're at a loss for major ideas, but are working to make little steps to make it a little more "us."

One of the reasons we're unsure of what to so is because our bedroom 's walls have an incredible slant. The bedroom takes up the entire second floor of our house, and, as a standard Cape Cod, its walls slant at the angle of the roof. Not to mention, all of the walls (and ceiling) are covered with bumpy, unsightly "popcorn." Yeah, it's not pretty.

We're not able to hang anything on the east-facing wall of the room, but it does have some cut-out windows. Below the windows, it looks as though the home's previous owner built some bookshelves for added interest/storage. The only thing is, those bookshelves were doing nothing for me.
This is what we're working with on the east-facing side of the bedroom. Kind of sad, right? We're not able to have traditional dressers or bureaus because of the slant of the walls, so we bought a couple of Expedit units from IKEA to keep some of our clothes in. The left side is mine, the right is Eric's. 

One way I thought we could amp up the space is making those bookshelves look a bit more like built-ins. So I set out to paint them white, while adding a little pop of color to make the room a bit more lively.

I started out by removing all the little trinkets from our bookshelves, and sanded them down to remove some of the gloss and rough up the surface a bit so it would hold the paint better.

Once sanded, I wiped the shelves down with a wet cloth and let them dry. Then I got to work on priming them.

After the primer dried, it was time to paint! I used the leftover can of Glidden's Marshmallow White that the previous owners had left at the house - the same color I believe was used on the popcorn-coated walls...

After spending a couple of hours in a bedroom after priming and one coat of paint, I was feeling a little dizzy. Painting is not the best wintertime activity when you're not able to have windows open to air out the room. I had the exhaust fan running in our upstairs bathroom, but the fumes still stayed strong. After that first coat of paint, I definitely needed to give myself a rest from the fumes. I let the first coat dry, then Eric graciously offered to do the second coat to keep my brain from eating itself from too much fume exposure. What a guy, saving my brain and all!

Thankfully, the second coat was finished in the early afternoon, so we had all day to let the fumes dissipate before sleeping up there for the night. The next day, it was time to tackle the backs of the shelves.

When the bookshelves were built, apparently the "carpenter" was willing to make a few shortcuts to get them up quickly, namely: not making any backs for them. Instead, he backed the bookshelves with card board.

To his credit, he did make a fancy little cut-out so the outlet in that area could be accessed.

Now, I'm all about making things easier on ourselves, and I won't dog on the guy too much about the card-board-backed shelves - I mean, you barely notice them unless you're really looking - but at least cover them up with something pretty. To contrast the white bookshelves on white walls, I decided to cover up that cardboard with some pretty wrapping paper, much like we did with another Expedit unit waaaaay back when we first moved in to our house in May of last year.

I picked out some fancy wrapping paper from my favorite little paper store in Milwaukee's Third Ward: Broadway Paper. You guys, I could spend hours in this store (and nearly have!). They've got beautiful greeting cards, designer wrapping paper and the cutest little gifts around the store. It's so fun just to go in an browse. 

When looking at wrapping paper, I was immediately drawn to some pretty garden-rose-printed paper by Snow & Graham, but figured Eric wouldn't be wild about pink. So I tried to find a paper that represented a good balance in our taste, and one that would fit the overall feel of the room. I bought four sheets of the above paper (also by Snow & Graham) - not-too-girly flowers for me, green for Eric's favorite color.

I measured the top and bottom space for the back of the shelves, then cut the paper to size, using a rotary cutter (cleaner lines!). 

Then I just sprayed the heck out of the cardboard backing of the shelves with some Elmer's Spray Adhesive. I was sure to lay out the paper flat, pressing out any warps or bubbles.

The paper stuck perfectly to the cardboard with the spray adhesive. And a week after the project, I'm happy to report there's been no warping or peeling - things are still smooth!

Even with all my junk, ahem, treasures placed back on my shelf, the bright, new paper adds just the nicest little punch to the bookshelves.

Eric's bookshelf has considerably less junk strewn about.

And while these bookshelves still may not look exactly like built-ins, I think they blend in so much better with their new white hue. Hopefully, once we tackle the assuredly tedious task of scraping off all that popcorn from the walls and ceilings (oh yes, that's a major one on our to-do list), the bookshelves will look a little more seamless in the room.

We've got quite a lot of work to do in the bedroom before I share the whole shebang with you, but rest assured we've got a lot of ideas swirling around in a crazy little heads. It's always a struggle to work with oddly-shaped rooms, and we've certainly got our work cut out for us, but once it's done I'm positive the transformation will be the best we've done in the house so far. 

For now, the little personalized bookshelves will just have to do!


  1. what an improvement! They look great Rachel, and I'm sure I could spend hours in Broadway Paper too. Sounds like my kind of place! :)

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