Monday, June 21, 2010

painting built-ins...


Elle Decor


Elle Decor


Atlanta Homes Magazine via Greige


I hope you all will indulge me in a post for a friend of mine. She asked me over the weekend about painting her built-in bookcases in her living area. Should she paint them the same color as the walls (SW Pearl Gray) or paint them white, as with the rest of the room's trim work/moulding? 
My fellow decor and design addicts, what is your opinion? Have you had the same question? What did you/would you do...?

50 comments:

Tricia Rose said...

Paint them gray, with maybe a darker gray or subtle accent colour on the back walls...

Krystal said...

probably paint them different than the walls...a fun color!

Milk and Honey Home said...

I think painting them white is safer and more traditional. I love the gray....looks more beautiful and artistic. She could always paint them white like the trim, then paint the backs gray or wallpaper them (heck, or even use gray contact paper). I guess it all depends on what feel she is going for? Hope this helps, Julie

Sarah @ Maison Boheme said...

I like painting the built-ins to match the trim (ie. white or off white) rather than paint them the colors of the walls. However, I LOVE painting the back of the built-ins a contrasting color or darker shade of the wall paint. I did this in my living room with a wall of shelves and it looks GREAT!

ginger said...

Hilarious!

I'm having the same challenge - I like the idea of doing two-tone. I'm trying to convince my hub to do light gray on the outside, light gray inside. I think it will make our new built-ins pop.

Rachel Joins the Fray said...

I think it's okay to paint them a darker color if they are inset, but if they are set out from the wall, like your last photo, they should be kept the same color as the rest of the bookcase. (I've never seen a shelves that are not "inset" painted a different color - have you?)

-Rachel

eclecticrevisited said...

love the built in painted a slightly lighter shade than the walls....and gray is a must....maybe even a little towards the putty color....hmmm....or white wash them with a gray wash if possible....love your blog and thanks for stopping by mine.....maureen lynne

Carol@TheDesignPages said...

I always advise clients to use a tint or tone of the wall colour for built ins. I find the white is so stark. I also like in a contemporary space to have the bookcases painted with a higher gloss. The more modern the space, the higher the gloss. Love it!
Carol

shari @ little blue deer said...

I would first say white, but then I'm thinking, if she wants to be bold and daring, something really dark and fabulous, like deep red or aubergine!

Windlost said...

Donna, I've sent you an email with a couple of pictures. I vote for white shelves with the back wall painted the same colour as the room. I don't like room-coloured shelves (too boring); the shelves are a nice feature and you want to highlight them. White is also okay but a little boring. Options seem limitless. As someone said, a solid darker gray might also be interesting.

xo Terri

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Hmmm. A tough one for me. Normally I would say paint the trim color...and possibly think about a touch darker than the wall color for the insides. But if the wall and trim color are not that different...you could get by with the wall color...but maybe a bit more sheen.

I'm a libra...what can I say.

Reynolds Still said...

I would paint them a darker shade in order for whatever is being displayed in them to be the focus. White will wash whatever is placed inside to be lost.
Great question and this is just a man's opinion....

Best regards,
Reynolds Still

www.reynoldsstill.blogspot.com

The-Countrypolitan said...

There is no right on wrong...it just depends on the style of the room and the architecture. You can treat it the same way that you would kitchen cabinets... which don't have to match the trim. ~Terri

kayce hughes said...

I love the pop of a third color or a slightly different color than the walls if you are looking for subtle.

Mona Thompson said...

I definitely say paint them gray as in the images you have shown. I think the white is ultra-traditional and dated. I also like glazes,but agree with the Countrypolitan that there is no right or wrong, just depends on the style of the room and architecture. In some instances a bold color might work but I try to stay away from anything that looks too "decorated".

Privet and Holly said...

I'm thinking white with the gray in the back, to spotlight what she displays on the shelves! Hope that isn't a wimpy answer, but it's beautiful the way that I'm picturing it in my mind!!
xx Suzanne

Tamanna A. Shaikh said...

I think it depends on the walls etc. Roghly though, a contrast would look much better and eyecatching!

24 Corners said...

I really struggled with this choice also and ended up painting our built-ins the same color as the trim and all base molding (HC-27) because not only does the base run along the walls but also at the bottom of all the built-ins. Our walls are a different color.

I love the idea of gray painted built-ins though, even if they are the same color as the walls. Best of luck to your friend!

Charlotta Ward said...

Tricky one but I agree with the rationale that you so beautifully with the images above.
If the shelves are part of the actual wall - i.e. build INTO the wall then go with the wall colour.
If the shelves are built ONTO the wall (i.e. sticking out) then go with the trim colour.

I'd do the interior backdrop/wall of the shelves a darker shade, an accent colour or why not use wall paper to create a quirky feature.

That's my 2 cents..

Have you shopped at CSN yet? :)
You must tell us what you got or what you are thinking of getting!

xx Charlotta

Moxie Maley said...

I just had built-ins done for my master bedroom and painted them the same color as the wall but in a semi-gloss paint. They look great!!

Nicole Lanteri said...

I think it depends on the room and the style/feel the client/friend is going for. I recently worked on a living room where the couple was going for a sophisticated, calm, relaxing, open plan living area. They had lots of invigorating colors in the room including in the built-ins which weren't working. I really liked the impact of painting the built-ins the same color as the wall (BM Calm) and then adding some crystal knobs from Anthropologie, especially when working within a pretty limited budget which we were. And the couple I was working with had some great mementos and photos that really popped off of the light gray color. Here's a link to the post I did on it and there are before and after photos in the post. http://onmyagenda.blogspot.com/2010/02/week-of-before-and-afters-day-3-updated.html

Melkorka said...

I love the idea of the gray - of course you posted some beautiful examples - so I may have been swayed by them ;)

I think that painting the bookshelves a wall color or a variation of it will make the built-in recede a bit(in a good way) - and I think darker shelves have a much more old world - classic library feel.

With & Where... said...

I have been dreaming about adding bookshelves to my house.

Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

I agree with Krystal! Go for a fun, different colour that makes them POP! But I would say that because it's a style I adore.

The Zhush said...

I love built in book cases and have many through out our home. Some, like our kitchen, we have painted the insides a color to make a statement, others...kept it white, like the trim, for a more traditional book case feel. Really depends on the room...and sorry for offering no help! :)

SogniSorrisi said...

I would go gray and maybe a darker wall gray if you want some contrast.

jules @ The Diversion Project said...

that first image is a stunner!

Naomi@ThirteenandSouth said...

I'm a sucker for white bookcases. I want the bookcases themselves to be clean and simple and the ITEMS on the bookshelf to be the stars on the shelves.

That being said, all these images are quite lovely too!

Sketch42 said...

I kinda like the idea of painting them the same color as the wall. I feel like its a little more traditional, while painting them white is a little more contemporary? know what I mean by that?

I say wall color.

one sydney road said...

I've always liked the look of bookshelves painted the color of the wall or a bit darker for contrast. Painting them gray would be lovely!

sarah, flourish design + style said...

My initial instinct was white or cream, but seeing them the same color looks pretty fabulous! A tough, but great problem to have :) xx

brock street said...

i go for gray too. i think built in's tend to add clutter and keeping a settle transition for the eye by keeping them gray is my opinion. let the pieces in the shelves be the stand outs.
monochromatic creates that old school European look.
ponder away....:)

Kristin @ My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia said...

Really enjoying your blog!!! Thanks for stopping by
Take care

FROM THE RIGHT BANK said...

I had the same dilemma when we moved into our house. (We have three built-in's.) I painted one - gray, of course and the other two white. That doesn't help here at all, does it? ;)

Dumbwit Tellher said...

I say painting the same color or a hint lighter or darker. If she wants to play it up a bit, opt for adding pattern to the back via wallpaper or fabric. Nothing permanent but fun as the mood takes you.

You are a good friend ~

red ticking said...

i am a white trim girl... but i sure do love this muted look for something fresh... gorgeous... and especially in gray! have a wonderful day sweet friend!! xx

La Dolfina said...

I don't think she can go wrong either way. Maybe she should start with white, live with it for a while and then see if she wants to take it any further. What did you tell her?
xx

pretty pink tulips said...

I'm a huge fan of painting the back of the bookshelves. I like dark - related to your room colors but not necessarily the walls. So gray or a shade of gray. They will make all your accessories pop. And, definitiely, add lighting so that you can highlight everything!

Anna Caroline said...

What an interesting blog you have. Count me in as a follower :)

junghwa by amy stewart said...

I think they should match. :)

YSR said...

Toughey! Fill the shelves with books and it won't matter! ;)

Karena said...

Adore a nice contrasting paint on the back of bookshelves I did a coral/terracotta on the back of those in my living room!

Karena
Art by Karena

jennifer ament said...

Love the first picture! Just discovered your blog! Love it!

Kim@Chattafabulous said...

I would probably paint them the same as the trim color and do a fun color or wallpaper on the backs

LindsB said...

If she wants them to kinda blend into the walls and not stand out then I would paint them the same color as the wall. But, if they have great detail and fabulous woodwork that would be nice to stand out then I would paint them white.

If she is thinking of painting them why not paint them with a white primer then she can see how they look white, if she doesnt like that then go ahead and do the final coat gray. Just a thought :)

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SERENDIPITY ANTIQUES said...

I recently painted a bookcase white BUT painted the back interior of it a pale, soft gray. That way anything I put on the shelves, especially something in a white or cream color, pops out :-)

camdesign said...

Not white white, my answer to this question is the same as drapery...a shade or two lighter or darker than the walls... or the same as the walls.
Then the items on or in the build ins are the focal points of the builtins...
White to me anywhere is just a big refrigerator in the room, to much contrast.
I only like white when every wall, trim, door etc is white and the furniture is different shades of white with alot of different textures in fabric... this is a special look that takes alot of work and thought to pull off.

Kathysue said...

to blend paint the wall color to become an architectural feature paint them white.

penelopebianchi said...

Just happened on this post. What I don't like (my opinion) is just the back wall of bookcases painted a different color that the "body and shelves" of the bookcases!

Then the shelves create "stripes" across the "back wall" and the whole thing looks like an "add on" as opposed to an integral part of the room.

I do like a different color used...but only if the sides, back and shelves are the same contrasting color. They should read as "one" to my eye!

Any other opinions on this?