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Before and AfterRenovating my House

Family Room Bookshelves in Progress

By 06/12/2012September 5th, 202136 Comments

The bookshelves in the family room were halfway there but needed some work (below).


My carpenter added a few more shelves and we used the same crown moulding from the living room to finish the top. Then we added 2″ strips of molding on the front of each shelf so it achieve the look of custom millwork.


Then when Pure Painters was here, they caulked around every corner in the back of each shelf so that when it was painted it looked like millwork instead of bad, skinny shelves. I also learned that preparation is most of the work in the paint world. There are so many ways to cut corners when you paint that the homeowner would never know.

If you get a cheap quote for painting, know that the prep will be minimal.


Here they are all complete! I can’t believe the difference, they look so much better!


Do you like books on your bookshelves or a combination of accessories and books?

Related posts:

How to Style a Bookshelf without Spending a Fortune!

Here’s a Way to make your Bookshelf Beautiful

Maria’s Corner Library (in my last house)

Download my eBook, to learn what you didn’t get in Colour Theory. How to Choose Paint Colours: It’s All in the Undertones.

If you would like your home to fill you with happiness every time you walk in, contact me.

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4 pins


  • Hannah Dee says:

    I either like one or the other to predominate. If I’m doing accessories than very few books. If I’m doing books then very few accessories. It can get too busy so quickly when you do lots of both.

  • Mira Crisp says:

    Hi Maria! Your new house looks lovely and looks like you are enjoying the process so far! I love what you did with the shelves; molding really helped make it look more custom. Regarding your question, we have a big library that’s constantly growing due to our professions and interests, so my bookshelves are mainly filled with books but I like to to add accessories where I can.

  • What a difference! I love the 2″ strips to make it look sturdier. And there’s nothing like a little Dap to make things look built-in.

  • Iris Bieri says:

    Love it! It looks so much more elegant than before.

    I like a combination of books and accessories. Here’s an example of a bookshelf I styled for a client:

  • Debbie Bruna says:

    Maria, It looks great! I like an equal combination of books and accessories. Just enough books so that it is not all just for show, but enough accessories to really give it that punch.

  • Design & Decor By Shelley says:

    I love the new look of the shelves, looks like a custom made shelf unit..I like the combination of books, magazines (nicely stacked) and accessories that are colorful, then it looks less like a library and more like a showcase of unique collectables. I love all your color Maria..

  • Diane says:

    Brilliant! How to turn ordinary into extraordinary! I will have to remember this one.

  • I do a combination, but the older I get, the more I lean towards just books.

  • Marlo says:

    They look awesome! What a difference the 2″ strips made.

    I like a mix of accessories and books and I try to find accessories that are related to my hobbies or have some other meaning.

  • Mary says:

    Oh my, what fun you must be having fixing everything one room at a time to make the world a prettier place. (Except for the occasional melt down)
    I like a mix of things on shelves. Books, accessories, pictures, greenery, flowers, small mirrors, candle sticks.
    Will you be doing anything to the backs of the bookshelves? Contrasting paint or wallpaper?

  • Vanessa says:

    I really like how you made the shelving go all the way to the ceiling- I would not of thought to do that, and it makes such a difference! Can’t wait to see them styled– that is a lot of space to fill!

  • Frances says:

    Maria, there’s a product called Goo Gone that may work on the leftover fireplace glue. Hope it’s available where you are! Loving the shelves!

  • Books are my fave things so I envy your built-ins. They look great!

  • Linda says:

    Maria, the finishing touches on the final shelves make them look lovely. What is the name of the paint color used?

    On the shelves, I like a mixture of books and interesting objects and pictures — combining different colors, textures, and shapes in the overall look.

  • Lori says:

    Styling bookshelves has always been a difficult task for me. There’s such a fine line between done and overdone. I stay on the safe side, with just books. But I know you have the talent/vision/patience (recent tantrum not withstanding) to combine books and chochkies with magnificent effect!

  • Love your new built-ins and the fact that you finished off the top ‘n edges with molding and installed a kick-plate. Like yourself, I am a stickler when it comes to prepping as I feel though it can be time consuming it is also a vital part of the work.

    Re the adhesive residue on the f/p; you could try Goof-Off (by Guardsman) and I suggest if at all possible lightly sand the area prior to using it. (Comes in an aerosol shape can but is a liquid.) Good luck!

  • Cherie says:

    Yes, do try GooGone. We use it for many things and it usually works. Your shelves look so good now. I didn’t know about adding molding to each thin shelf, but that’s a great tip. In our living room our shelves go on both sides of French doors. We have used only leather and cloth bound books, which are various shades of red, and some green, black, and brown ones. They are rich looking and beautiful against our walnut stained shelves. There are a few accessories, but mainly these pretty old books. Fortunately, we have a home office filled with shelves where we keep our other books and magazines.

  • Nancy O'Brien says:

    Love those shelves. I have been waffling over building shelves in my small condo. The wall I was thinking needed them is awkward due to odd architectural details like a small soffit at one end and a small baseboard heating unit at one end. As I sat experiencing envy over your symetrical wall, it hit me that I might be able to use the opposite wall! Amazing how we can stay stuck on a concept to the detriment of progress. 🙂 I now have an idea to work out…thanks for the inspiration!

  • kathy says:

    Amazing how almost all you blogs about your house mirror what I am dealing with building my new house. I am getting ready to design the built ins in the master bedroom hall area, I want to keep them simple and inexpensive, yet want them to look well done. This is a good solution. Thank you.
    I like books and accessories, intermingled.

  • Julie from Australia says:

    Great work with the shelves. I look forward to checking your blog every evening and get a bit sad when you haven’t posted something, but I have to come to terms with the fact you are entitled to have weekends etc off!! So what I do then is read up again on your older posts…I thought when I opened it tonight that the photo of the styled shelves with the National Geographics was actually your place and I thought – Oh that is so Maria! But it turns out it was from Pinterest! Love the look of it though. You’ve really convinced me on yellow now!
    Hope you get some time now to enjoy your new home! You are always sooo busy!

  • Mary says:

    Love the shelves, cant wait to see them styled.
    But in the mean time, can you please share the paint color on the walls in this room, I love it as well ;0)
    Thanks for sharing all your work,

  • Hey Maria! Looking good! Are you doing yellow as well? I’m for mixing it up.

  • Debbiecz says:

    Ok, this may sound a bit drastic but if you try Goo Gone and it doesn’t work consider a heat gun & scraper. Go REALLY slow and a small bit at a time but I’ve had to remove some industrial strength goop and it was the only way.

  • Your new book cases look great and I know you will style them beautifully !

  • Carol Anne says:

    accessories and books…

  • SandyCGC says:

    The bookshelves are beautiful and have a totally custom look. Think how you fill them depends a lot of how many books you have and whether this is the main place you’re going to store them. If mainly books, add your great accessories, and mainly an area to display your fav things, add some of your most unique books. In Iris’ pix, books are the focus but she’s added what would appear to be favs of the client with an Oriental theme – lovely. The Pinterest pix could have been you with that delightful yellow. Here it appears books are not the main focus but rather a lot of pretty “things” which I hope are the client’s. We’ll be so excited to see your final production..

  • jackie says:

    A little off-topic, but that rug in the pinterest photo. I’ve been dying to find one like that for my boy’s room because my idea is to paint his walls really dark navy with some cowboy/brown art and accent with yellow (yes, I stole this off apartment therapy’s house tour called Patina Style). Anyways, that rug is from an american source. And dammit if I can’t find anything in canada like that! We’re getting so many big stores in calgary now, but still, can’t find a yellow and white 8by10, gar! Anyways, love the shelves and would love if you did a post on this so-called “painting prep”. Are you referring to “buy beer, fight with spouse?” because that’s the only prep i ever do…hmmm…?

  • Maria, I love all the yellow you use in your home. It’s such a happy place! So warm and sunny. I can just hear the birds chirping in those spaces:)

  • Paula Van Hoogen says:

    I love the cove molding you used on top of the bookcase…and there looks like another piece of molding to fill in the gap? That particular profile is what we used in our whole hose (where it made sense)
    It doesn’t cost like crown and gives a sculptural connection between the wall and ceiling that sometimes creates a wonderful illusion of taller ceilings.
    Looks like you have a good carpenter there!

  • Victoria says:

    Looks beautiful, fresh and contemporary! Just like you! Can’t wait to see the more of your process. Very informative and helpful.


    Victoria in Texas

  • TracyB says:

    Your bookshelves look great! I prefer a combination of books and accessories on bookshelves. It’s much more interesting to me. Do you always recommend taking bookshelves to the ceiling? What do you do when you have a cathedral ceiling?

    • Maria Killam says:

      I don’t think you can apply a blanket rule to anything, but certainly in my case with 8 ft ceilings this was definitely the way to go. Maria

  • karen says:

    Maria, the bookshelves look amazing! Awesome job. Love how it all is coming together. The dreaded prep-work, very time consuming but once it’s all done, so worth the time and effort. Love seeing how it’s coming. Sure is a big job but you’ve been mighty busy.

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