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