When we first moved into our house, I got right to work painting all of the main living area and kitchen cabinets. While the dark java stain is pretty, I am a sucker for light and bright spaces and wanted to paint them white. I also wasn’t in love with brown tile surround and thought I would try painting a faux marble look over the tile to see if it would work and it did! I’m also sharing my favorite formula for styling fireplace built-in shelving.
How I Painted the Built-Ins
Ahhh! So much better! I cleaned the cabinets, sanded, cleaned, primed, sanded, cleaned, primed a 2nd coat, sanded, then painted 3 coats of Sherwin Williams Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel Pure White in semi gloss. I’ll share my painting process in more detail soon.
I’m SO happy with how they turned out. It took me 4 hours to hand paint each coat on the base cabinets because there was so much surface area! I sprayed the doors and removable shelves with a paint sprayer.
My oldest daughter and I also painted the brown fireplace surround tiles into a faux marble tile and they look so real in person. No one believes we painted it until they get super close to analyze it. To be honest, no one ever does look that closely unless we told them we painted them. I’ll share the process of how to paint a faux marble look soon.
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Glass and Brass Hardware
I would have to say that the star of the show are my new glass cabinet pulls. They are just so elegant and timeless. The glass is real and quality made. I partnered with Amerock Hardware for the hardware. Shown are the Glacio 5/16″ Clear Champagne Bronze Cabinet Drawer Pull.
They truly make me have all the heart eyes. They’re sturdy, quality built and I’m not worried that my kids are going to break them either.
How I Style Living Room Built-Ins
In my last house, I had HUGE built-ins that were 36″ tall. I learned to style with larger scale items to fill up the space with less but more style impact.
Learn the secret to styling shelves including lots of examples of my previous styled shelving. Here’s another example of how I like to decorate shelving for the seasons/holidays without being full of single use things (AKA junk).
Live Plants or Florals
When possible, use real plants! I didn’t start out as a good plant mama at first but over the years, I’ve finally gotten better at keeping them alive. Live plants bring an amazing healing energy and help purify the air in your home. Plus, nothing beats the real thing when it comes to looks.
Use faux plants if the area is dark and doesn’t get much light.
Sizing and Grouping
My new house’s built-in shelving spaces are 18″ tall with the top spaces measuring 21″. This means I could use more commonly found decor sizes. I like to use one large piece in each shelf grouping to ground or anchor the space.
Then I create a “moment” for each grouping with a total 2-3 items. I like to have a different shape, texture, medium (ceramic, woven basket, wood, metal, etc) within each group. I like the colors to all play happily with each other too.
Mix Old and New
Many items on these shelves are actually thrifted finds (not that that would surprise anyone who’s been here awhile). I love using pieces that I gathered over time. My decor is so versatile, it often hops from one room to the next, whenever I have a new styling need for it.
Not only is this good for the pocket book, but also the environment too. But I also buy items that I can’t find thrifted or need right away too. It’s a balance. My favorite places to find decor are HomeGoods, TJ Maxx, Target and Michaels.
Customize Store-Bought Decor
Sometimes I can be a bit snobby about not wanting to buy something that “everyone else has” because it’s trending. I bought this lamp and wanted to give it my own personal touch.
I customized it by painting it a grey blue color, Benjamin Moore Mount Saint Anne, leaving the white recessed portion untouched. It took me almost 3 hours to do the detailed work. But I love hand painting and find it very relaxing. Now the lamp has a Serena & Lily coastal vibe.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, create it! I made the mini rose canvas from printing a photo and gluing it to a canvas with Mod Podge. Then I lightly sanded the edges with sandpaper and sealed the top with Mod Podge again in a hashtag motion for a vintage paintbrush stroke look.
I also made the topiaries from thrifted plastic pots that I painted. I stuffed the pot with floral foam and placed sheet moss to cover foam. A topiary ball was attached onto a stick I found outside that I painted brown.
Free Public Domain Art
Art or photos are a perfect way to decorate shelving. Art can be expensive and not in everyone’s budget to purchase originals.
That’s why I LOVE using free art that’s in the public domain. There are thousands of classic, vintage art in the public domain that are available for free digital download.
The reason it is free is because of the time period that has passed since the artist’s death and the copyright expiration.
Below are the links to the art I have shown on my shelves (all from public domain).
- Still Live with Rose – By Henri Fantin-Latour
- A View of a Lake with Fishermen – BY William Groombridge
- Windmill on a Polder Waterway, known as ‘In the Month of July’– by Paul Gabriël
- Lady in Flower Garden – by Childe Hassam
Print Art Photos
After downloading the free art to my computer, I edit them from the original download to brighten the image or reduce the yellow tones (all common effects of aging).
Then I upload to an online photo printer, usually Walgreens because they’re fast (with same day printing), have coupon codes and have lots of locations.
However, sometimes the coloring can be off since Walgreens has a general people skin tone saturation setting (amped up yellow or reds/pinks) they print everything off with since the majority of photos they’re printing are of people and not of landscapes. Sometimes I don’t like the coloring in their prints.
If I am needing an exact color print match, I’ll use a pro printing lab like Mpix.
The two framed iris watercolor prints are thrifted.
Shop My Decor
Linked are exact or similar items (if original was thrifted).