Built-In Book Storage for $197
A blank wall is transformed with secondhand bookshelves
Extending the height and width of the units lends a custom look; painting the exposed back wall dark blue makes the white stand out and the shelves look deeper.
Not all older homes are full of charming details. At Hilary and Dan Delgadillo's 1950s Cape Cod, in Somerset, New Jersey, the ho-hum living room lacked architectural character. So Hilary decided to add her own by flanking the window with built-in bookcases. After months of scouring Craigslist for used furniture to incorporate into the design, she found the perfect fit: two solid-pine units with open shelves as well as closed cabinets. Dentil molding, a scalloped valance, and a particleboard back dated the pieces, so she removed them before sanding the units and painting them white. Dan used plywood to build three-sided boxes to extend the height of both shelf units, patching in pieces for the face frame and a false wall that extends the units' width. Wrapping the top and bottom with crown and base molding make them look built-in. Finally, Hilary painted the wall behind the shelves a nautical blue—befitting a Cape. "I love that we have display space that gives the house character," she says. "Plus, the shelves look like they've been here forever."
The Project Tally
• Snagged a pair of solid-pine bookcases online $100
• Modernized the pieces by removing the dentil molding, scalloped valance, and back panel $0
• Extended the height and width of the units with plywood $20
• Wrapped the top and base of the units with molding for a built-in look $30
• Sanded, primed, and painted the assembly white $30
• Added color to the wall behind the shelves with navy-blue "oops" paint from the hardware store, and installed new acrylic knobs $17