$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. Casey says

    No fair with the teaser post…I almost blew a gasket waiting for the after pics :) It’s absolutely gorgeous!! We just stayed at the Encore hotel in Las Vegas for New Year’s, and the dark color kinda gives off that same chic hotel vibe. Great job!

    • says

      Hey Maggie,

      That’s actually a stack of Ikea frames that we had laying around. Use watcha got, right?! We thought they looked like a stack of white books or a box so we went with it (since we didn’t have a place picked out for them on the walls anyway). Hope it helps!


  2. says

    We are big fans of rich, saturated colors on the walls at our house – so I love this look, and am excited to see what else you do with it in the new house! Looks great!

  3. says

    Absolutely love.

    My mother-in-law and I spent the summer brightening her terrifying dark-panel-and-orange-shag basement. We painted the back of the built-in bookcase a very similar color from Benjamin Moore Aura, and also used the color on an accent wall. We painted the paneling a sandy beige and the contrast is gorgeous. It was such an amazing transformation (plus a little furniture rearranged and refreshed), I was wishing I had a home blog–rather than a food blog–to share our success!!

    Back of my mind was: Must Tell Sherry.

  4. says

    I love how much the background makes everything pop. I can’t wait to see how you tie in the color with the rest of the house. Did you intentionally collect similar colored items or did all those yellow, white, and blue do-dads happen to match all on their own?

    • says

      Hey Tanya,

      It all happened on it’s own! I mean I knew I had a penchant for white ceramic animals (and blue is one of our favorite colors) but it all sort of came together for us on it’s own.


  5. Elisabet says

    I really love this, looks so good! I also admire how bold you are using so much color in your house, I hope I can work up the courage to use more color in my home.

    I was wondering if you could inform me how your shelves are stuck to the sides, or hung up? (if that is the correct way to say it) Your system seems really neat and I need ideas. :)

    • says

      Hey Elisabet,

      There are little pegholes down the side of the built-ins and there are little shelf supports that can be moved up and down the pegholes. Then the shelves rest on those supports when they’re snapped into place. I think home improvement centers sell those little “tracks” with the pegholes and the shelf supports. Hope it helps!


  6. Brooke Buckingham says

    I love it! And you’re right, that deep jewel tone really makes the white shelves pop! Fabulous choice!

  7. Kristen says

    Wow, it looks great! I’m so glad to see you guys take bolder moves when it comes to colors. This color is beautiful and really makes everything look so much brighter and really pop! Excellent job.

  8. says

    I’m proud of you for trying such a bold color! And I think it’s a great color too! Your shelves look great and it will really set off your new dining room!

  9. Carrie says

    I love it! I am so in to the deep blue greens that are out now. I’ve never been that in to blue but with these colors that is all changing!
    Also- I am ridiculously jeslous of your built ins!

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