My lounge room needs help!

I have 2 ugly bookcases either side of a fireplace. We bought the house almost 2 years ago. The fireplace will be for storing wood as a firebox will be installed in the room. The bookcases are apparently out of a docs surgery & put into the recesses, name stickers & all. The carpet has been removed from the room thankfully but is still under the bookcases. The ceilings are 12 ft high & the bookcases do nothing for the room & probably are about 6 to 7 ft high. Have racked my brains but am desperate for ideas, please......
q lounge room help
q lounge room help
  43 answers
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Nov 27, 2016
    Can you paint the bookcases to add a pop of color? I don't have a full sense of the room to recommend a color, but chalk painting them should be pretty simple...
  • Cori Widen Cori Widen on Nov 27, 2016
    Also, if you do paint the bookcases with chalk paint, you could stencil some detail between the shelves for some extra personality...
  • Sue Ryan Sue Ryan on Nov 27, 2016
    I would start by staining them to match the fireplace. Then I would add doors to the bottom of them. (same level as the fireplace mantel) It would hide some of the clutter. The top shelves could be used for more decorative items
    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Nov 27, 2016
      hadn't thought of staining, only removing. That's a good suggestion & doors too. It's a small cottage so there will always be clutter to hide. Thank you
  • Cindy Hagemann Cindy Hagemann on Nov 27, 2016
    Paint them and add wallpaper to the back or a different color paint for a pop! I would do something with the fireplace too, it needs updating too. I don't think they are that bad - once you paint them, organize them and keep them clutter-free. Here is an example.
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    • COCO COCO on Nov 29, 2016
      William, You are right!! Who would destroy such a built-in treasure without at least trying your idea. I like the beveled wood pieces that actually accentuate the walls.
  • William William on Nov 27, 2016
    I agree with painting them. Maybe the same color as the walls. You fireplace does need some attention. A beefier mantle shelf would be a start with large corbels on the sides. Looks like thin boards just placed around the fireplace. It needs to make a statement.
  • Susan Susan on Nov 27, 2016
    Definitely clear them and paint them white as suggested with accent color inside. Refill with less and add family photos, plants and a few knickknacks . Make it a feature wall as others have also said.
    If your ceilings are 12 ft. high and the bookcases are only 6-7 ft., why not add storage cabinets or repurpose kitchen cabinets underneath the bookcases and lift them up closer to the ceiling. That way whatever colour you do decide to paint or stain them they will have a much mor dramatic impact on the room. If you don't want that much impact, why not just get rid of them entirely and paint the niches a different colour and put wing back chairs on either side. You can always hang art over the chairs.
  • B J  Alexis B J Alexis on Nov 28, 2016
    I would remove the top shelves of both bookcases until they are level with the height of mantelpiece. Then match the remaining bookcases to however the mantelpiece is finished, or matched to the wall color, making that end of the room a long expanse of the same height and color making the room more balanced.
  • Darline Darline on Nov 28, 2016
    My second home years ago, had the same look. I had a handyman come and make space at the bottom for a soundsystem, put doors on the bottom portion of the cases, and stained them to match the fireplace. I made good use of the space by adding touches of brass to give some interest and filled the shelves, with books and pictures, and collectibles. The area took up the entire wall, hanging small pictures at the back of book shelves certainly gives an unexpected pop of interest; being either family photos or art work. Don't forget that with this day of battery powered fake candles, you can add a sparkle of homey warmth as well.

  • Tova Pearl Tova Pearl on Nov 28, 2016
    If you paint the bookcases the same color as the walls, they may look like built-ins, and then you can focus on making more of a decor statement with the fireplace
  • Inetia Inetia on Nov 29, 2016
    Cover them with louvered doors to hide the clutter.
  • Anita shull Anita shull on Nov 29, 2016
    Agree with the paint// maybe some form of metal lizard antique paint somewhere-/ back if the shelves?
  • Auntlolo Auntlolo on Nov 29, 2016
    I would add doors to cover the 3 bottom shelves or as someone else suggested - raise the units and put closed storage underneath. Also, I would paint it the same color as your trim (can't tell if that is the same as the walls or not). You may go with an accent on the back wall of the shelving unit, but keeping it uniform is okay, too. With doors, you will have more storage available for the cluttered items (that need to be out of site) and still have shelves for pretty display. It will have a better look overall with the fireplace, too, I think.
  • Daniele Van Tassel Daniele Van Tassel on Nov 29, 2016
    If there is enough room, pull the bookcases to the front, even with the fire place. update your look in anyway you like. Add shelving to the ceiling and use behind the bookcases as secret rooms. For any reason, hide valuables or use as a secret reading nook, whatever you have room for.
  • Melissa V Melissa V on Nov 29, 2016
    Yep, I'm going with the paint idea. Definitely need to bring those heavy books and magazines down from the top shelf. Get some prefab doors to fit at the third shelf level
    (so many styles to choose from!). I guess then you decide to go all matching wall color, or go darker on the lower cabinets to blend with the fireplace...which really needs attention. Does it not work? But you need to clear the mantle off, and start looking at your items in groupings of 1,3, mix and match photos and saved things, and even a few books. Keep us posted!!!
  • Questar Questar on Nov 30, 2016
    I would put drop down lids on the two lower shelves, the kind you would pull out towards yourself to open. Pick two colors to complement your room's color scheme & stencil. Put a single stencil design on the front of the drop downs & then in a repeat design on the backs of the shelves. The two lower shelves would be for storage, the open shelves for display. Art display on the top of the shelves or something interesting to hang from the ceiling above the shelves in that space. You can also add visual interest with wooden motifs from the craft store to attach to the fronts of the shelves if you do not want to do stenciling.

  • Betty Nuovo Betty Nuovo on Nov 30, 2016
    If you need the storage space keep them and look at the ideas suggested by others. If, however you do NOT need the storage space how about removing them and adding some dramatic floor to ceiling art work to make a statement? You could do it by painting/stenciling the wall yourself or buying some outrageous artwork. You have two large spaces and I could see them turned into a green (think jungle) scene with maybe a waterfall. It may sound like a lot of work but I am sure there is a way to do it. Maybe order a vinyl decal thingee that folks are using to decorate - they smooth on and are removable if you find you don't like them after a while. I don't know what else you have for windows in the room but making these two spaces look like floor to ceiling windows might work.
  • Poelstrad Poelstrad on Nov 30, 2016
    Paint out both bookcases the same colour as the walls, I would go with a colour that goes with the fireplace. Then take the second shelf from the top out on both sides and put two pieces of art that complement each other on each side. Add a nice large mirror above the fireplace. Place your books on the bottom and second shelf up, some laying down some standing up and a few pictures in between and on top of the books.
  • Bronwyn Newman Bronwyn Newman on Nov 30, 2016
    Take the shelves up to the ceiling and make them as deep as the fireplace. Paint the same colour as the walls and dress the bottom to blend with the baseboards in the room and the cornic. It will visually make the wall flat. Add cabinet doors too the height of the fireplace and leave the top as open shelving for display purposes. Hang a large mirror on the wall if possible or large artwork. Add soft lighting into the shelving to add warmth and depth. Maybe paint the back wall behind the shelves in an accent colour for a pop of fun or in the same colour but a contrasting tint.
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    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Nov 30, 2016
      Thank you for your comments, I do like your ideas
  • Nitalu129 Nitalu129 on Nov 30, 2016
    The biggest problem is the clutter. painting the shelves to match the fireplace would bring the entire wall together. Find some used cabinets with doors to put on the bottom raising the shelves higher. The shelves being recessed is not an issue. Bringing them forward would detract from the fireplace being the focal point. Organize the shelves with less clutter by using the added cabinets for storage. Arrange some of the pictures on wall above the fireplace making a less cluttered look.

    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Nov 30, 2016
      Thank you, some good ideas there. It's extremely cluttered as have just putting everything there as we have been working on the outside of the house & yard but now I need to think about the inside
  • Cbl8775653 Cbl8775653 on Nov 30, 2016
    I agree paint them the same color as the walls. If possible raise them about 3 feet and add a deeper cabinet between the bookcases and the floor. Have doors on the cabinet, paint it and the doors the same color as the walls. You can use the deeper cabinet to store clutter items. Take items off of the top of the bookcases. If not using the fireplace as a fireplace I would also paint the mantel to match the walls to draw less attention to it as a wood storeage area. Do not not know where you live or the availlability of firewood; however we put a gas insert into a older wood burning fireplace. We love it. No buying wood, no ashes to clean and carry out. The gas insert looks very realistic and came with a remote theremostat so we can keep a more even heat in the room. Very cozy. Good luck
  • She She on Nov 30, 2016
  • Lindy Lindy on Nov 30, 2016
    I would paint them the same color as the trim or the wall and then use wicker baskets to store some of the things that are exposed
  • Debbie Debbie on Nov 30, 2016
    I would remove the bookcases, they seem to clutter up the room.
    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Dec 01, 2016
      I have seriously thought of that too, putting a seat, maybe on the left & a cupboard on the right, so much to consider
  • Charles Prock Charles Prock on Nov 30, 2016's the deal....The bookcases will look just fine there if you DECLUTTER them....Take EVERYTHING out of them and then find some appropriate architectural decor to put back in them...The decor should have something to do with the area you live or a FEW collectibles...Put a valence across the top and then put some up lights behind the valence....This will give you the illusion of more space and will brighten the room....
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    • Charles Prock Charles Prock on Dec 02, 2016
      That will work...I know, I love books too and have had to declutter several times to weed them out...You can make simple flat panel doors to cover the bottom 2 shelves and then maybe put some panel mold on them to give them a little character or cut straight lines across the front of them with a table saw....I hope it works out for you.
  • Janice Janice on Dec 01, 2016
    Hi: I agree with others on: 1. paint them the same colour as the wall, 2. put doors on the bottom two shelves. You can do a simple molding to match the era of your fireplace. Books can be on remaining shelves but stagger them, eg. some on left on one shelf, on the right next shelf. Put books standing up with some lying down as bookend, plus some items and pictures (not all pictures and items on one shelf). I'd remove the pics from the fireplace. Sorry, but you'll probably have to remove the carpet; big job but you have to empty them anyway. Try to just jack up the front if they're not in there too tight, and see if the carpet can be pulled out. You could always install lighting (recessed if you're up to it $$) on the ceiling on both sides or a puck light (same as kitchen type) on the top shelf (cut out from above, but you'd have to install wiring) otherwise could find a battery type that sticks on to the top of the top shelf (underneath the top of the bookcase).
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    • Janice Janice on Dec 04, 2016
      I wouldn't replace the fireplace surround. It is a classic design. If you want to take it to the limit, you could remove it, insert a modern design fireplace. But I don't think this was the original intention.
      It was said, by a well known designer in Canada, that bookcases are for books. So showcase them. If you want to get rid of your books, then maybe get rid of the bookcases and create a different space. But, if you love books, then embrace them and show them off.
  • Janice Janice on Dec 01, 2016
    ps: You could put a couple of wicker baskets on the very top, not tall ones though. Good luck
  • Janice Janice on Dec 01, 2016
    pps: You could also put a small mirror on one of the shelves on both sides. Amazing how a little mirror can lighten up a dark area. Not on the same level of shelves though, stagger them.
  • Madalyn Madalyn on Dec 01, 2016
    They are truly ugly.... rip them out flaten the fire place image. what a mess that is.
  • Dennis Paugh Dennis Paugh on Dec 01, 2016
    Remove bookshelves place potted plants like trees or any large plant. Also you could place a deskon one side.
    e plant
  • Danielle Danielle on Dec 01, 2016
    It looks like you have a plate rail running around the entire room around the 7' mark, that would be the first thing to go. It stops your eye right there at it so you don't even realize the ceilings are so tall. Next, yank those bookcases out of the hole, rip the rest of the carpet out, frame in a cabinet with doors at floor level to hold clutter, Make it around 3' tall. Paint the bookcases white to match the rest of the paint, wire in some lighting for the shelves if you want and stick them back in the holes. Now they look more in scale. Add some trim at the sides and top and you can make them look built in as well. Do NOT put all the clutter back on them. There are a million blog posts and pinterest boards out there about styling bookcases, see what you like and do that.
  • Myriam Drachman Correa Myriam Drachman Correa on Dec 02, 2016
    I think the first thing you need to do is to remove EVERYTHING from the shelves AND the fireplace !! After that you can paint the library and the fireplace surround the same color or wall and shelves , whatever you like best. After that, you need to be very selective what you put on them. More is not better!

    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Dec 02, 2016
      Definitely have to find a place for the books & yes think it needs painting or else pull it out & start again with cupboards & shelves. Thanks for your suggestions

  • Rei14570049 Rei14570049 on Dec 02, 2016
    My husband built a wall of bookcases and they looked pretty plain until he finished them off with a patterned trim piece up the sides and across the top. it was all painted the same color as the wall and looks great! We have lots of books and scattered some of other favorite items in between the books. I love it!
  • Rita Stein Schwartz Rita Stein Schwartz on Dec 02, 2016
    I agree about painting them to match the walls. That will make the bookcases nearly invisible and showcase what's on the shelves. I'd even consider buying shutters and closing off the bottom of both bookcases and I would put one large item on top to give the tops a less cluttered look.
  • Jim L Jim L on Dec 02, 2016
    I like the bookcases! How about painting them white and the inside back a bright color...maybe red, bright teal, light blue...redistribute the books and have the heavier things nearer the bottom. I would also paint the mantle white...the dark wood eats light!
    Good luck.
    • See 1 previous
    • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Dec 02, 2016
      sounds great, I like it a lot plus the greenery which is coming. Still think some cupboards at the bottom to hide a lot of the books, can't get rid of the books, love non-fiction books. I have liked ll the ideas about painting the book cases, I think white & do the back of them a teal blue which is the trim on the house & though out. Thanks again for the suggestions
  • Lana Kregerova Lana Kregerova on Dec 03, 2016
    Take all stuff off bookcases and fireplace. If bookcases are moveable slide forward remove carpet. Paint bookcases white . If bookcases aren't moveable. Paint white, add a strip of white trim to cover carpet. Put white whicker baskets on bottom shelves. And on the top . (You can spray paint the baskets if unable to find white). Put whats not used that much from the shelves into these baskets. That way you could display more of what you want seen. If you want the same picture above the fireplace I would add two rectangle wall sconces. One on each side. Same color as picture frame. To make fireplace more of focal point. Return about half the pictures to mantel. You could possibly convert fireplace to gas. I have one and really enjoy it.
  • Sophia,M.,McConnery Sophia,M.,McConnery on Dec 05, 2016
    I like the wood.It is my personal choice in most furnishings!
  • Leisa Yeager Leisa Yeager on Dec 27, 2016
    take the shelves out....if you need shelving use floating shelves or a nice piece of furniture in the your wood stacking in the other alcove but cut in half with a chunky shelf..decorate above it with a nice picture.....and don't forget lighting..makes a difference
  • Darla Darla on Dec 27, 2016
    I would remove the upper half of shelves. From the fireplace mantel & up. You could put lighting on either side or pictures. Definitely paint all one color. You can wallpaper/paint/contact paper the back of each shelf to add a pop of color
  • Shannon Shannon on Dec 31, 2016
    I actually love the bookshelves, but would have a carpenter bring them way up high, paintbthem (and consider putting a different color paint or beautiful wallpaper on the back "wall" of the bookshelves, then put library ladder on them so you can fill them with books and climb the ladder to reach books up high.
  • Shannon Shannon on Dec 31, 2016
    or remove partbof the shelves to make them lower, put art and lighting above each shelf.
  • Nancy Flemming Nancy Flemming on Jan 01, 2017
    Lots of good ideas. However, I think the problem is the bookshelves clash with your fabulous fireplace. The fireplace mantle needs to be more substantial, at least the thickness of the shelf fronts and put posts down each side of fireplace out to edge of wall to tie the pieces together. No need to take out the existing mantle just construct a 3 sided box and fit over and anchored to the existing mantle. Same 3 sided box can be done for the side posts, with a bit of routed detail if you like. Then your choice of stain, gel stains require less prep work, or paint. Baskets in the bottom shelves with books would look less cluttered, just have some of your favourites on display. A bit of trim along the bottom will hide the old carpet, if you can't get it out. Good luck
  • Chrisdee Chrisdee on Jan 01, 2017
    Now that really makes sense, I've felt all along the bookcases didn't belong. They were put there as they fit, would love to know what was there before if anything. Your idea could work, thanks so much