17 October 2012

The living room shelves, part 2

Sorry to leave you hanging like that yesterday, everyone! Or at least, sorry for the long drawn-out decision over a small detail. Welcome to the inside of my head! It is tedious!

Today I at least have a bit of a before-and-after for you. Thank goodness, right?!

One of the reasons why I wanted a wall of bookcases was to break up the boring pinky-beige wall color we have in almost every room. Those walls that are not pinky-beige, by the by, are yellowy-beige. Even with my acutely-tuned color sense, it took me a few weeks of living here to realize there were different beiges here in our apartment. There is clearly a LOT OF VERY SIMILAR BEIGE up in here, and I can’t easily paint over it.

But I can paint the backs of the bookcases! I just had to decide what color. And I had to decide fast. We had company coming to stay with us in one week and virtually every book we own was piled on the floor of the guest room. I wanted them on the shelves, but the shelves weren’t steady without the back nailed on, and the back needed to be painted first if I was going to paint, and I couldn’t paint without a color picked so GEEZ LOUISE pick one already.

I decided that this decision required more than photoshop for visualizing. First: the basic white backs that came with the shelves.

I actually liked the plain white backs, really. White is almost always a good choice, and if I could paint the walls a different color, I probably would go with white to keep it simple and classic. But alas. Beige!

So I went the opposite direction. The trellis rug now lives in the living room, so I thought maybe blue would be good to match the rug. To get an idea of what this would look like, I pulled out an IKEA VIVAN curtain (purchased in June and not yet hung, booo) and draped it across the back:

AHHHHHHH. NOT NEUTRAL NOT NEUTRAL! Yes, I’m experimenting more with color nowadays but that experiment is a FAIL for me. Too bright, too distracting. I want the bookshelves to be interesting, but that’s too bold a statement. It was an interesting test, but I think I will continue to cling to my neutrals for now. Sorry.

So next I pinned together two gray pillowcases (from the office re-do) and gave those a try. Charcoal is dramatic but neutral, right?

Ehhh... maybe, but not right for this job. That is a lesson in how lighting makes all the difference. In our moody office, the pillows fit right in. In our light, bright living room, they sucked all the happiness into their dark void. Pass.

But the gray was at least on the right track. So I pulled out one of the silver no-sew curtains, also from the office. Oddly enough, in the office, they were virtually the same color as those pillowcases. But here...

Yes! Yes that! Light gray isn’t too big of a contrast with the wall paint in terms of brightness and color saturation, but provides a different tone to break up the beige. We have a winner!

Next stop was the Depot of Homes (while in Nashville!) to pick up a quart of their Behr Paint and Primer in one. I thought I’d get the Ashwood we had on our old bedroom walls, because it was the perfect gray in that light. But I worried it might ultimately look too brownish in our new place, so instead I grabbed another gray with the slightest of green undertones, Silver Tinsel. After wandering around the store, holding it up to all sorts of white and beige items in all sorts of lighting, I bit the bullet and purchased a quart.

Back at home I spread out my dropcloth in the foyer and prayed the paint fumes wouldn’t waft downstairs, prompting our landlady to suspect I was flinging paint around her apartment. I mean, I was, but carefully.

Note I actually painted the back of the cardboard backing that came with the shelves. I knew the shiny surface on the white side would need to be primed, and I am lazy. Also company was coming VERY VERY SOON. So why not give it a try?!

(Every paint job needs a roll of paper towels nearby, just in case. See, landlady? Carefully.)

The pieces did start to warp a little bit as the cardboard absorbed the paint, but it dried to the touch in like ten minutes. No, not like. Literally ten minutes or less. I added the second coat immediately after and it took all of fifteen minutes to dry. Which meant painting these took about half an hour late one night after work. Wheee!

Then, because they were starting to warp, I went ahead and started nailing them onto the back of the shelves. And in an hour or so, they were done!

You may have noticed that in the testing-the-color shots, I had the shorty shelf in the corner. One of the reasons I decided against keeping that shelf there was because of the color on the backs of the shelves – I thought it might be weird to paint the backs of the tall shelves gray with the beige over the short shelf. Not having a shelf in the corner breaks up the built-in look I wanted, but centering the big block of gray on the wall seems better in the end.

Anyway. Look! Bookshelves! No need for those piles all over our guest room anymore!

If the adjustable shelf placement looks weird, well, that’s because I had a plan for how I’d arrange things on the shelf. It should all make sense later! I hope!

Then the last step – which is a doozy – is attaching all the trim to make them look like something other than cheapy white MDF shelves. That’s on my radar, but lower down the list of projects-to-do because I’m not quite sure what I want yet.

But it’s getting there! A vast improvement over those sad shelves in the corner, right? Gosh, I hope so.


Rachel C said...

Blue Vivian curtains!?!? OMG!! I am so excited. That is so far out of your comfort zone.