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

04.26.16
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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  • Eclectically Vintage - Kelly
    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!
  • Zelda?
    Zelda? Albert, OK
    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
  • Leslie D
    Leslie D Las Vegas, NV
    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
  • Carroll A
    Carroll A Coos Bay, OR
    I have been struggling with making a similar decision. I also have a bookcase handmade by my grandpa. It goes with nothing in my home. I have come to the conclusion grandpa would want me to make it my own and if that means painting it then that's ok.
  • Angela A
    Angela A Lula, 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
    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 A
    Angela A Lula, 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
    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
  • Zelda?
    Zelda? Albert, OK
    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

  • 4 Sythe Trail
    4 Sythe Trail Lincoln, NE
    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 A
    Angela A Lula, 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
  • Zelda?
    Zelda? Albert, OK
    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 A
    Angela A Lula, 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
  • Zelda?
    Zelda? Albert, OK
    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 A
    Angela A Lula, GA
    oh wow Becky! you are wayyyyy more organized than me!!!! thats very nice!
  • Zelda?
    Zelda? Albert, OK
    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
  • Angela A
    Angela A Lula, 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
  • Joy Kelly-Warner
    Joy Kelly-Warner Lincoln, NE
    I would paint it?
  • Stacey Cannon
    Stacey Cannon Rathdrum, ID
    I saw somewhere where they used different color cordinated bookcovers. It was like a work of art.
  • M. M..
    M. M.. Pleasant Hill, CA
    Wait a bit to do the bookcase, then depending on what colors/themes you choose for the wall/room,try decorative paper inside the back wall of the bookcase, not a busy pattern, but something to lighten up the wood. I might restain/repaint the bottom half
Angela A
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