Painted Bookcases

Painting the backs of bookcases adds depth to a room and highlights architectural details. The contained space is the perfect spot to use a color – or pattern – that might be overwhelming on all four walls. A painted backdrop can help highlight items on the shelves or unify colors within a room. In the photo below, the blue of the built-in shelving appears in both the pillow fabric and the window panels:

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Interior design by Janet Brown Interiors. Project included selecting paint for bookshelves to house client’s existing accessories. Family room of young, vibrant transplants from Washington, D.C. area.

In the master bedroom of the home featured above, the blue-and-white built-in shelving repeats the colors of the upholstered armchair and the Greek key tape on the window panels and Roman shades. Lamps and pillows on the other side of the room continue the blue-and-white theme:

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Interior design by Janet Brown Interiors. Project included selecting paint for bookshelves to house client’s existing accessories. Home of young, vibrant transplants from Washington, D.C. area.

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Detail of Greek key pattern on window treatments pictured above. Interior design by Janet Brown Interiors. Master bedroom of young, vibrant transplants from Washington, D.C. area.

You don’t have to fill your shelves to make an impact. An empty bookcase can become a colorful niche.

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“An empty bookcase painted Pratt & Lambert’s Orange Spice sets off sparks in the living room, picked up in the custom-colored print by Galbraith & Paul on the pillows and curtains. Custom orange fabric from Lewis & Sheron Textiles. Orange paint sets off the Palladian details of the bookcase.” Interior design by Kay Douglass. Photography by Eric Piasecki. “An Atlanta House With Bursts of Color” by Christine Pittel. House Beautiful (September 2012).

Painting the backs of the bookshelves in the next photo allows green accents throughout the room – the Greek key motif in the rug, the trim around the drawers and the lamp shade – to “pop.”

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“Bookshelf interiors are painted green [Bunker Hill Green by Benjamin Moore], a touch [designer Celerie] Kemble says brings order to the colorful chaos of books.” Alexandra Side Chair by Suzanne Kasler for Hickory Chair [Available through The Studio at Janet Brown Interiors, a Richmond resource for Hickory Chair.] Interior design by Celerie Kemble. Photography by Pieter Estersohn and John Bessler. Written by Lisa Cregan. “New York Apartment with Elegant British Style” produced by Jenny Bradley. Traditional Home.

The yellow in the upholstered chair  below reappears behind the books and objects on the shelves.

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“An upholstered armchair and garden stool next to French doors and a fireplace mantel with an heirloom painting.” Susan Greenleaf and Jeff Whipps’s 1867 Georgian-style home in the Pacific Heights neighborhood of San Francisco. Interior design by Susan Greenleaf. Photography by Bess Friday. Written by Ondine Cohane. “Young at Heart” produced by Wendy Scofield. Lonny (May 2014).

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“A herringbone pattern hand-painted [in eggplant] by Christopher Rollinson gives the living room its ‘wow’ factor. ‘In an important room like your living room, shelves should be a little more styled,’ [designer Christina] Murphy says.” Interior design by Christina Murphy. Photography by Jonny Valiant. “A Colorful Park Avenue Apartment” by Emily Evans Eerdmans. House Beautiful.

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“A herringbone pattern hand-painted by Christopher Rollinson gives the living room its “wow” factor. ‘In an important room like your living room, shelves should be a little more styled,’ [designer Christina] Murphy says. Above the Lee Industries love seat, a Christine Hayman painting hangs between wall lamps from Circa Lighting. An antique English chair in Clarence House Fleuret Jasper gives the cozy seating area a bright pop of color. Walls are painted a custom robin’s egg blue. “Interior design by Christina Murphy. Photography by Jonny Valiant. “A Colorful Park Avenue Apartment” by Emily Evans Eerdmans. House Beautiful.

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“Southern painted the backs of bookshelves Benjamin Moore’s Rural Earth so the owners’ collection of ironstone and reliefware pitchers would pop. The intricately carved black Burmese chair is from Place des Vosges — more proof that pattern pipes down when it’s in monochrome.” Interior design by Rob Southern. Photography by Victoria Pearson. “Bold and Dramatic Colors in a Houston Home” by Mimi Read. House Beautiful.

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“The built-in cabinets are original to the breakfast room, but the backs are painted pink to match the ceiling.” Spanish Colonial-style home in Hancock Park, Los Angeles. Interior design by Ruthie Sommers, Ruthie Sommers Interior Design. Photography by Grey Crawford. Text by Candace Ord Manroe. “Family-Friendly and Colorful” produced by Laura Hull. Traditional Home.

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Library in home of a young family.

Painting the interiors of a bookshelf is an easy way to refresh a space. Come visit The Studio at Janet Brown Interiors if you would like help selecting your colors.

Post by Kathleen Sams Flippen for Janet Brown Interiors.

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