What can I do to "liven up" this bookcase?

I have a bookcase that my grandfather built years ago, before I was even born, and I remember it being in their house all my life growing up. So I love it because it was made by his hands. It's a great bookcase, large, sturdy, but over the years it's become worn. I think he painted it brown (see pics). My living room is white mostly although I do have their coffee table as well that is dark wood and extremely HEAVY as well. I want to paint my living room (again don't know what to do color-wise, I'm not good at picking colors) and I want to do a collage of old family photos on the wall next to this book case. Any ideas as to what I can do to liven up this bookcase that won't mess up the wood? I have NO IDEA what type of wood it is??? Thanks!
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  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    Thank you all for the kind words and advice. I agree that Grandaddy would want me to use it the way I wanted to in my home. It's such a large heavy piece it reaches the ceiling where I have it, so if I decided to sand it or paint it, I would have to take
  • Jeanette S Atlanta, GA
    Angela, since you said it was painted, you can just rough it up a bit with sandpaper and use any paint, or that Anne Sloan Chalk Paint in whatever color you want. If you use the cream with a dark wax rub, it will have a vintage look appropriate to your
  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    Thanks Jeanette S...I like that idea...is the dark was rub part of the chalk paint?? I know I sound like a novice, b/c I am when it comes to painting!! LOL
  • Ellen H Cullman, AL
    Angela, I haven't used chalk paint either but I read a blog post recently from someone who had just tried it- I think she said it didn't smell which might mean you wouldn't have to move it outside. Here is the post: http://networkedblogs.com/C0ijj
  • Becky Blair, NE
    Angela what lovely memories this piece represents for you. I'm so sorry about the loss of your brother.

    As for the piece itself I'm totally confused about it's current finish. You did mention it being "painted" but you also

  • TheFinishingTouches Aberdeen, SD
    Does the back come off? If so, remove it and cover it with fabric or even decorative contact paper. Or, you can cut cardboard to the dimensions of the backs of each shelf area, and cover those instead and then insert them. You can even change these
  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    Becky I think you are seeing brush strokes, maybe some scratches yes, but probably mostly brush strokes.... the back does not come off...I like some of the pics I've seen on here of what people have done with the chalk paint, I'm just scared that I will
  • Becky Blair, NE
    Thank you for clearing that up, Angela. There's no way to tell what kind of wood it is from that picture then. You need to see the grain and sometimes the color of the wood can help too.
  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    Good idea Becky....I will add pics of the wall beside it...right now I have a large picture on that wall. what I have are a lot of black/white photos of my grandparents and mom and so on, (so many that I dont even know how to choose which to use lol) too
  • Becky Blair, NE
    Oh good. Pictures always help us help each other.

    I believe you're talking about Donna's family picture wall. That was awesome! This all reminds me that I need to get off

  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    oh wow Becky! you are wayyyyy more organized than me!!!! thats very nice!
  • Becky Blair, NE
    Thank you Angela. I'm a bit obsessive about planning. It's the doing that comes way slower. The room this is for, the Gentleman's Parlor, still needs walls painted, the fireplace surrounded stained, built and installed, plus new furniture and rug. All
  • Serendipity R Clarendon Hills, IL
    Since the back doesn't come off, you can cut pieces of foam core board or cardboard with fabric, gift wrap, scrapbook or wallpaper or, you could paint just the back and preserve some of the original color.
  • Angela L Harlem, GA
    This is the wall beside the bookcase that I want turn into the "family wall"...I want to paint my living room as well...and am wondering if that strip across the middle can be taken down, OR should I just paint over it?? I live in a mobile home so that
  • I would paint it?