Friday, September 17, 2010

Beadboard bookshelves...sort of

I have always loved a nice set of white bookshelves - particularly the kind that take up an entire wall or flank a doorway. I have often thought of (dreamed of) adding white bookshelves to our dining room - either adding built ins that run on either side of our fire place or, in my more budget-conscious moments, just adding a couple of tall ready-made bookshelves. Then I saw THIS picture and fell in love with the beadboard backing on the bookshelves. I also loved the height of the bookshelves, which gives you a chance to display things at eye level and also hang pictures or photographs on the wall.

And it inspired me to create my own beadboard bookshelves, but on an Ikea kind of budget. I had already been eying the Billy bookcases at Ikea and based on my inspiration picture, decided to purchase two of the 41 3/4", 3 shelf version. B was kind enough to put them together for me!

There they are as just plain bookshelves, no backing. I have read a lot lately about how revolutionary paintable wallpaper is, including beadboard wallpaper. I ordered a roll of the Martha Stewart beadboard wallpaper from Home Depot, which luckily was more than enough to cover the back of the bookshelves and even leave room for error. After all, I don't know a thing about wallpaper - this would be my first time to install it. The wallpaper is an interesting texture - almost spongy, which I think helps give it the dimension to look more like real beadboard (and absorb paint, as you will see below).

Sharon, always willing to try a DIY project, came to my house on a Saturday to learn how to wallpaper. I had previously purchased wallpaper paste, a sponge and a knife from Home Depot. Reading the instructions on the roll of wallpaper, we set to work measuring, cutting and pasting the wallpaper to the flimsy cardboard backing that came with the bookshelves.

It took a bit of trial and error, but in the end we managed to cover the backing with only a slightly visible seam where we had to match strips of wallpaper. Unfortunately, what we did not account  for was how heavy the wallpaper would be for that flimsy backing. The backing came tri-folded, and it just so happened that our seam ran along one of the folds. In little time the backing started buckling, bending, and eventually falling out of place.

Since we needed to wait at least a week before painting the wallpaper (according to mr. wallpaper expert at Home Depot), I decided to lay the backing down and stack heavy law books (might as well use them for something now) and cook books on top. In this picture I have the books on top of the wallpaper, but I quickly figured out this was leaving indents on the wallpaper and then flipped them over so the books were not applying direct pressure. I think the books helped only moderately.

Then came time to paint the wallpaper. I chose Relaxed Khaki from Sherwin Williams - I thought it would be a nice complement to the custom blue in our dining room, and I happened to have plenty of it to spare. It only took one coat to cover the wallpaper (score!). This project kept getting better! Time to install!

The backing was still bending and not staying in place - nothing a few nails couldn't fix. Once I had the backing where I wanted it, I secured it to the shelves by hammering several nails through the backing into the shelf. If you try this at home, be careful to make sure you are hammering into the shelf. I have to admit that I missed a few times.

Before decorating the bookcases, I followed the beautiful suggestion from Young House Love to fill the extra holes with Dap caulk. It took two tries before we found the right one that blended the best - the Dap Kwik Seal (bright white). It blends so well - unless you are up close, you really cannot notice.

So how do you like the final project? I haven't settled on how to decorate my new beadboard bookshelves, but I love them already; I think they add a lot of dimension to our dining room and give me a chance to showcase some color and texture that really stands out against the white of the shelves. I am thinking of adding another one to the right of the fire place - after all, I've got the supplies now. Any suggestions on what can make bookcases really pop?

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