before and after

before & after: music room redo with custom shelving wall

by Kate Pruitt

I’ve always wanted a room with wall-to-wall bookshelves, and for some insane reason, I always imagined I would have to stumble upon a home with this feature already present. Why had it never occurred to me that I could build something like this? I have no idea. I can be very dense sometimes :) Luckily, I have inspiring projects like this music room renovation from Lisa to remind me that, yes, I can adapt my home to fit my needs with a little savings and creative thinking. The wall of shelves looks wonderful framing the French doors, and I love the new olive color on the walls, as well. Lovely renovation, Lisa! — Kate

Time: One year for planning/design, one week for execution

Cost: Around $2k for the entire room including painting, carpentry, window treatments and other details

Basic Steps: I actually started with the dead, wasted space on either side of the French doors. That particular area was boring and empty, and the only thing that ever made sense to eat up the space was a set of bookcases. Once they were installed, they added instant character to the space. Credit the benefit of built-ins because they look like they have always been there.

I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on the rest of the room, so I moved a large area rug that was in another room to the new space. I pulled one of the greens out of the area rug and used that on the walls. The sofa and love seat were all white and while re-upholstery would have been ideal, I went the less expensive route and recovered half of the pillows using fabric to match the tobacco color in the area rug.

I suggest trying to use what you already have first. If there are items in other parts of the house that can be used to help build up the new room, go for it. The biggest thing I learned about this makeover is that it doesn’t take a huge amount of money or a knockdown, major-budget renovation to give a room a brand new look. Sometimes it’s the things you make with your own hands (like my new pillowcases) that add that little extra detail to make the room pop.

Also, when planning bookcases or other small carpentry projects, check with your local builder. The carpenter who installed my bookcases actually works for a builder in my neighborhood. That’s his real bread and butter, but he also does small jobs like mine on the side, with exceptional results. He was strictly installation and didn’t caulk or paint, which contributed to his reasonable price. It wasn’t a problem since the painters I hired included the bookcases in the cost of the room. — Lisa

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  • Great use of space! I like that it blends in seamlessly due to the molding match- it’s the attention to detail that make the difference. The only thing I would have differently is to paint a bold color in the back of the cabinets for more contrast/interest…but that’s just me. Looks great :)

  • Looks great! I have actually been wanting to do the same thing around windows in my dining room and have been wondering about the cost. $2k doesn’t sound too bad. Now to convince my wonderful husband. This gives me something to show him.

  • Nice job..speaking from a professional point of view its always cost effective to get a painter to paint built-ins and entire room under one contract

  • Excellent use of the french-door wall. A built-in shelving system that ties into the french doors actually heightens the drama of walking through those doors.

  • Two thumbs up. My husband made built-in book shelves in our spare bedroom and they stand on either side of the slideing glass door like these. I love it.

  • Thank you for this post. We have been looking to do something similar for awhile and haven’t found a good reference for inspiration. On that note does anyone know anyone in Brooklyn NY that would be able to do something like this. Any recommendation would be awesome. Thanks.

  • What a great look! The before and after barely look like the same space. With the french doors and white paint, the bookshelves don’t weigh down the space – it all still flows.

    The only thing I would have done is paint the wall between the doors the same color as the shelves and molding, but since I’m seeing a picture, it might look more seamless in person.

    Overall, I love it!

  • Love this! It reminds me of my living room, even the color! We sorely lack storage in our place. Maybe I’ll try something similar down the line….

  • Love the bookshelves around the french doors and the way it gives a sense of a foyer or entry to the room and then such a great look when you turn around, too. If there hadn’t been a transom, you could connect the two with a long shelf to span the doors…I’ve seen that done and it’s a great look as well. I really like the wall color around it, like an outline…you wouldn’t see that definition and architectural detail if it was white like the doors and shelving. Very nice color….like a khaki suit with a crisp white shirt!

  • Looks great! My spare room has a similar effect – 5 of ikeas’ cheapest ever tall bookcases (not billy – we’re talking less than $150 for all five)

    AT some point I’d love to add trim or moulding, but for now they look pretty good just filling the wall. Installing all the shelves at the same height added to the look. (and best of all, it keeps my far too big book collection of the floor!)

  • It turned out fantastic! Love how the green walls really bring out the contrast of the warm wood floors and white moulding. Lovely!

  • DO want! What a wonderful use of space and $2k isn’t too bad for such wonderful carpentry work. It looks so stylish and streamlined into the french doors that are already there. I think I will need to save this post for future reference :)

  • Looks great! I’m actually looking to renovate my home soon, and was wondering if you had any issues matching up the cornice pieces? That’s one of the big hurdles I’m about to face and was wondering if you had any issues?

  • Can I ask what state this is in? It is such a reasonable price, this would cost twice as much where I live.

  • This is in the Richmond, VA area. Remarkably fair carpenter who charged me under $1000 for both built-ins (did not include caulking or painting).

    No issues with molding match because the house is only three years old and this was pretty basic 3-member molding assembly. More intricate molding matches in much older homes might be harder to match.

    Color on the wall is Hancock Gray by Benjamin Moore.

    Thanks for all the complimentary comments about my music room, Lisa.