Before & After Bliss: Part 1

Remember this sad little photo that I posted last Friday to whet your whistle?  I promised a makeover for this corner and I’m going to deliver on that promise today!


So what is the makeover, you ask?  Could it be the depressing dog?  The sad dated chair with an oh-so-1980s Cosby Show vibe?  The really grotesque bookcase behind said sad dated chair?  So what’s it gonna be?  The long and short of it is that the dog stays (sad or un-sad – in Maggie’s world there is no happy, just un-sad), the chair is evolving (perhaps to another location), and the bookcase is…well….not really “us”.  The knotty pine look definitely does not work with our more updated style (which is also still evolving).  Since it was a hand-me-down from my Grandmother that she stored in the attic for years, I figured she wouldn’t be too upset if I re-purposed it to fit with our more contemporary style!  So here’s the tale!

First off, the piece needed a good sanding just to clear off the loads and loads of lacquer that were on that piece – mad props to my Grandfather for building the piece, which we figured out through this makeover process when we had to take it apart (more on that later).  If you don’t have a sander, don’t fret – a little bit of elbow grease and just some sandpaper from the hardware store will do just fine!  You can totally see the knotty pine details in the photo below – oh, yawn!


Next comes primer – and I’m figuring out that for pieces of furniture such as the one above and/or larger pieces, spray paint does wonders!  Primer doesn’t have to be pretty, it just needs to stick, so we just slathered that primer on there until we had the guts of it mostly covered.  I did use a brush-on primer for this step, which worked just as well.


Once I had the primer on, I could start to visualize what the piece would look like with color on it and get a feel for whether or not this makeover was a good or a bad idea.  So what’s the verdict?  Wait for it…..wait for it…..I *hate* it!  Actually, I took one look at it and realized that it looked like a cheap-o standard college dorm room bookcase that you could pick up anywhere for $10.  That was not at all what I had in mind when I started this process!  Boo hoo!  Soooooo…..I took some inspiration from some of my favorite (but too pricey) furniture stores/catalogs a la Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs (henceforth to be referred to as Ballard-Barn) .  Imitation is the purest form of flattery, right?  Let’s go shopping in our minds, shall we?

Perhaps we could get inspiration from a piece like this from Ballard Designs, which retails for $799 (no joke!).  This lovely model comes in three chic colors in names like “Rubbed Black”, “Antique Cherry”, and “Tuscan Cream”…doesn’t that just sound appetizing?  Too much money, but boy does that back panel look pretty!:


Or a piece a little bit more similar in size and shape from Pottery Barn in the form of this, which is a whopping $449 (say what?!).  Sadly, this one only comes in “Antique White”, but it’s essentially the same exact shape of the one we have!:

Bookcase 2

I wasn’t about to go out and spend close to a grand for a bookcase – are you kidding me??  So the hubs and I took a little inspiration from Ballard-Barn and decided to give the dated back panel a bit of a facelift with some beadboard.  We ripped off the back and replaced it with a $15 pack of beadboard from Lowe’s (cut to size, of course), painted it Muslin Wrap from Valspar (in a semi-gloss finish), and voila!  Brand new and updated bookcase a la Ballard-Barn.  And no lame t-shirt as souvenir from this tour de force, just a bona fide updated, yet classic, bookshelf to boot!


*Much* better, right?  Don’t forget massive amounts of polyurethane that we spray painted on as well!


Well, if you think that’s something, then have we got a doozy for you on our next post (hence, the Part 1 in the subject line).  No secret giveaways this time, but let’s just say it was a much bigger project that took a much bigger bite out of our weekend and our backs with even bigger results!  Stay tuned!!

big, Big, BIG!



9 thoughts on “Before & After Bliss: Part 1

  1. Love the redone bookcase and buffet – though I’m really curious to know what you’ll do with the recliner…perhaps another couple dozen iron prints will give it a really modern, almost pointillist look…

  2. Ha ha! It’s certainly a thought! We’re having a hard time getting rid of it (okay, it’s totally me) because it’s so darn comfortable! Though we may be moving it up to our bedroom so we can have a reading nook there….hrmm…

  3. Hey L!

    I am SO inspired by your bookcase! We have one that is exactly the same only taller! Now I’m thinking I may want to do a little makeover on it! Glad you guys are doing so well. Take care and Happy Holidays!


  4. Hey, Kimberly –

    Thanks for stopping by! Glad you’re back stateside! Heck, yea on the bookcase! You can buy taller beadboard that would work well for your situation. You can go to the following link to see how we did beadboard that was “taller”, but then we put it under our island. Same idea! Good luck!!! Let me know if you have any questions! I think it comes in 8 foot sections? Or maybe it’s 7….or maybe I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about 😉

    And, hey, if you take pics of it, I’d love to see your handiwork! Maybe it’ll even get a little bit o’ blog love ;-).


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