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

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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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  • Amy
    Amy Denton, KS
    on Sep 17, 2012

    I can't tell about the wood, but what a great treasure to be passed on, you could brighten this piece with a faux background on the back of the shelves-- may to brighten with some decopauged printed paper on posterboard to gently tack in the back.... I don't know but I LOVE THE PIECE!!

  • Leslie D
    Leslie D Las Vegas, NV
    on Sep 17, 2012

    I wouldn't touch the wood...it's so beautiful, and the fact that your Grandfather made it makes it so special! if you just want to brighten it a bit, you may want to consider putting mirrors i the back panels of each shelf. it would lighten it up and reflect your room colors to immediately tie it in to the rest of your decor

  • Eclectically Vintage - Kelly
    Eclectically Vintage - Kelly New York, NY
    on Sep 17, 2012

    What a beautiful piece. Something to add a pop of color would be to buy foam board and cut it to fit the back of the bookcase - then paint or stencil or wall paper the foam core. When you get tired of it, it's easily removable!

  • Z
    Z
    on Sep 17, 2012

    What a treasure to have a piece your Grandfather made with his own precious hands Angela! To freshen the finish I highly recommend a product called Restore-A-Finish. It comes in a variety of colors so chose the one closest to the color currently on the piece or you can chose one without color. Personally I'd try that first. It's pretty much as easy to use as if you were cleaning it. What it does is it softens the current finish and spreads it around. The ones with color added just enhance any color of the old piece. It doesn't look like yours is so bad that it needs the color added though. You can find it in the HoDe Paint department near the stains. I'm usually pretty good at wood grains, but with all the scratches it's hard to tell. Oh and I just realized you said he painted it. If that's true than the product mentioned above will not work. You'd have to lightly sand and then repaint.

  • Leslie D
    Leslie D Las Vegas, NV
    on Sep 17, 2012

    As I thought about the mirrors, I realized that brand new mirrors would be a bit stark with the antique cabinet. You can "antique" your own mirrors, and if you order them from a glass shop, you may be able to get them with the backs unpainted, which would save a step. http://www.hgtv.com/bedrooms/how-to-antique-a-mirror/index.html

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