$11 Makeover: Painting The Back Of Our Built In Bookcases

We’re back with the after pics of our freshly painted built-ins. As we mentioned in the last post, we went with an inky blue color with hints of green called Dragonfly from Benjamin Moore’s Affinity line (color matched to Lowe’s No-VOC Olympic paint for the bambino). We only needed a quart, and since we used objects that we already owned on the shelves this entire built-in makeover only ran us $10.97. You can read more about how we planned the shelf placement here. Oh and here’s a poorly lit progress pic from last night, just for fun. Yes John’s shirt does say “Talk Nerdy To Me” on the back. I love it.

But here’s what you really care about. The bookcases all painted! Picture us twiddling our thumbs while we waited for them to fully dry so we could put the shelves back on and load them up.

Of course by then it wasn’t as bright in our north facing room (hence the slight color variation from the last pic) but we LOVE it. It’s bold and high contrast and nothing that we would’ve have the guts to do in our last house.

We’re enamored with the color because it’s super moody and it reads as greener or bluer or darker or lighter depending on the time of day and the angle that you glance at it.

And of course all of my white ceramic animals (and other not-kid-friendly-so-I’m-glad-they-fit-up-there treasures) really pop against the saturated background color (which also makes the cabinets look crisper and whiter by comparison).

These two pics are probably the most true to life when it comes to the color (but of course how you see them really depends on your monitor):

Mr. Rhino (and his ceramic twin on the other side) likey. And we do too. Especially for under $11. In fact we love the color so much that we plan to work it into other parts of the house when we can (you know, to try to keep our whole house color scheme cohesive but not too “yawn”). We’re thinking it might be the perfect color for the base of the future island that we’d love to someday add to our kitchen – and would even work on a bathroom vanity. Should be fun…

Psst- Learn how we made those two fabric covered boxes on the right side of the shelf here.


  1. Angela S. says

    Well done! When you first mentioned you were going to paint the wall, that is the EXACT color I imagined you using. Great minds think alike??

  2. says

    Love it!! Those are great built-ins, especially the way that they frame the door. It was definitely a smart move to remove some of the shelves. The color is fab – I applaud your daring! I painted an old dresser a similar deep teal and loved the results. It’s a great color in small doses (I’m not bold enough to try a whole room!).

  3. Tracy says

    That looks great!! Stepping outside your comfort zone paid off!

    Where did you find that cardboard rhino in the last pic? It’s so cute!

  4. Lauren says

    Wow…..LOVE it!! It’s crazy how removing some shelves and adding a pop of color can make the built ins look even more amazing! Thanks for the inspiration and for yet again proving that you don’t have to break the bank for fab decor!

  5. says

    I’m proud of y’all!! I know you’ve always loved your punchy colors, but you’ve usually limited them to fabrics and accessories in the past- I’m the same way! As the hubs and I are still saving for a case of our own, I’ve started blogging about my furniture redesign projects, thrifty finds and decorating tips on my blog at http://www.sugarandspackle.com.
    The new color looks amazing with all your existing stuff- Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    P.S. How do you do color matching? Do you just take a paint chip to the Home Depot paint counter and ask them to match it in a particular paint type?

    P.P.S. Do you use latex or oil based paint??

    Thanks, y’all!

    Sugar & Spackle

    • says

      Hey Margaret,

      Yup, that’s exactly what you do. Just bring them the swatch and they’ll scan it and match it to any base (you pick the brand, finish, and size). Oh and we use no-VOC latex paint whenever we can (only use oil-based primer for things like wood paneling since water based can cause bleed).


  6. says

    Wow that color is amazing and your shelf makeover is making me regret just a little ripping out all the built in shelving in our house over the last two months. Of course, we didn’t have anything nearly as nice as what you started with!

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