If This Were Your Bookcase…

…what color would you paint it?

Painted Bookcase Options

We adopted this snore of a bookshelf in Manhattan about three years ago and it’s one of about ten pieces that made the move to Richmond with us in a minivan. We’ve always treated it like an “until we get something better” piece because there’s nothing terribly special about it, but somehow it has lasted this long, so we figure it’s about time we make it work.

We’re going to give it the ol’ Young House Love paint job (the wood is a little too red for our house anyways). And seeing a pretty painted green bed on google gave us the confidence to try something other than white… but we need your help picking the new color (and truly feeling confident about it).

Our top three color contenders (shown on the left side of the pic above) are:

1. A grayish-purple reminiscent of the print above the bookcase.

2. A muted blue inspired by our bedroom and kitchen.

3. A dusty green to complement the sometimes purple undertones in the tan wall color.

Or do we quit messing around and go with what we know: white.

Do you see why we need you? We’re practically paralyzed with indecision. We don’t want to go too bright since the rest of our living room is pretty neutral:

So cast your vote for one of the colors above or feel free to throw some other options into the mix. Thanks in advance for the help and, of course, we’ll post the after pic as soon as we get ‘er done.


  1. says

    i’d pick number 3, but then i love green. i do think it would look nice with everything else though, a good contrast without being to big of a contrast.

  2. says

    I vote for #1 to pull together the framed print above it, but I still love the white idea. You guys really “work the white” and do it beautifully!

  3. says

    I like 3 the best too! Or maybe a darker tan, like the chair, to offset all those pretty white things on the shelves?

    FUN POST. :)

  4. Kimberly says

    I vote for #2 or #3. Why? You definitely rock the white, but I think that side of the room has great dashes of white already and a bit of color would set the white off nicely. I am leaning toward #3 to serve as a subtle echo of the green accessories on the dining side of the room. You might even be able to go a tad green-er without disturbing the neutral palette. Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  5. says

    If you really must paint it, then a white would be nice for the supports and paint the shelf tops your first paint color above. If you are feeling especially bold you could paint the shelves a green similar to your vases on the floating shelves. Either choice the white objects on the shelf will create visual contrast with the shelves.

    Also, another option is to paint the supports white and then use a wallpaper or shelf paper with a green and white pattern on the shelves. I don’t see much in the way of patterns in your house, so this limited use could look nice. Specifically, I think ferm-living’s wildflower pattern 131 (in collection 1) could look good.

  6. says

    Black paint or ebony stain. I think the colors are great, just not in the living room with your other furniture, otherwise go with white but I think a stronger statement would be better.

  7. says

    My vote is for #2. I think it complements the framed art above as well as the wall color. Not too mention, there is a piece of art on the bookshelf that has that blue tone to it. The blue will be soothing but will also make the items on the shelf POP :)

  8. says

    Green, green all the way :) Ditto the others in the fact that it will tie in with all of your green accents. Or I might even paint it taupe (kind of like your sidebar on the right). And that way it ties in with your neutral color scheme, but isn’t washed out. AND if you decided to change your accent color from Green to say…Orange, then it will still mesh. :)

  9. Elizabeth says

    i vote for a dark stain or paint similar to the dining table and coffee table or white/beige.

  10. YoungHouseLove says

    Oops… what everyone can’t see is that behind me as I took the picture of the living room there’s a big console table that’s the same color as the dining table and chairs- and we also have two end tables on either side of the couch in that dark brown wood color as well.

    So we thought with all those dark wood objects (especially the console table in such close proximity) it would be nice to lighten things up when it came to the bookcase.

    Originally we thought about replacing it with a new white bookcase, but you know us… why purchase when you can repurpose? So this is our humble attempt. Thanks for all the votes and keep ’em coming. Hopefully we’ll reach a decision soon.


  11. says

    I like #1. I think it will go great with the picture and give a little bit of symmetry to the fireplace with your dog statue.

  12. says

    i’m sympathetic to not wanting too much dark wood, but i think the current choices are too light to emphasize the white objects you have on the shelf. is it possible to go one to two shades darker using one of the three tones you’ve selected? (i’d pick the middle one.)