Bookcases instead of Built-ins

Hello Friends! Today I am sharing an exciting new addition to my family room. I have always wanted built-in shelving around the fireplace in our living room or our family room, but could never afford to pull the trigger on this pricey addition.  I recently figured out how to get a similar look but for a fraction of the cost! Spoiler alert, it involves Ikea! Introducing these tall dark (well light grey) and handsome Liatorp shelves!

A little backstory, Last January I did a big furniture swap and completely changed up our living room and family room. (I am going to talk more about why I did that in an upcoming post) . We went from this:

To this:

The biggest change we made was to swap the couches. Our sectional moved to the front room living room and “the good sofa” was moved to the family room. This swap was working out quite nicely, and the family room became a nice spot to sit, read and relax. But of course, because I am me, I couldn’t leave well enough alone because for some reason the spaces on either side of the fireplace just didn’t “feel” right to me. I moved our floral chairs from the front room back to the family room and tucked them into this space.

This provided the balance I was craving, but I still wasn’t satisfied. The other issue I noticed as time passed was that I had removed the TV from this room and I was kinda missing it. Recently a client and friend of mine (Hi Jacqueline!) was having built-ins installed on either side of her fireplace, and I was having major built-in envy…the storage and decorative possibilities wouldn’t stop floating around in my brain! Sadly, built-ins were not in our budget and weren’t going to be anytime soon. Any significant money we spend this year on the house has to go to lame, boring responsible projects like replacing the widows. But then I had an “ah-ha” moment a few weeks ago. What about Ikea bookcases? That is pretty budget friendly! In our previous home, we had this Liatorp Media Unit in our family room and it was one of my favorite things.

I looked the bookcases up online to get the measurements to see if they would even fit, and wouldn’t you know it, they were perfect! I also realized that the grey ones would be amazing with the color scheme we have going on. Next thing I did was hop onto Craigslist, which is always my go-to when I want something from Ikea. There was the exact bookcase I wanted, available for $50! I took that as a sign and convinced my sister to make the half-hour drive with me to pick up the bookcase. you are such a good sport Jenn! We also popped by Ikea which was conveniently on the way, to grab a second bookcase. When I got home and put the already assembled bookcase next to my fireplace, I knew it was meant to be!

I should mention that the same week I decided to embark on this decorative mission, I was to be hosting a group of ladies from my neighborhood (hi PH mums!) and was giving a talk on tips for organizing your home. Also, my husband was away on a business trip. I knew I didn’t have the time to put the second bookcase together myself, so I called on Manny from Able Furniture Assembly. He can assemble Ikea furniture in a hot minute and his pricing is super reasonable. Plus he puts stuff together without swearing, a claim that my husband and I cannot make! If you are living in the Vancouver area, I can’t recommend him highly enough! He was even a good sport and let me take his picture, such a nice guy!

Once both shelves were assembled and attached to the wall, I was in love! I think they suit the space perfectly and I am so glad I went with the gey color, it’s a lovely contrast to the painted white brick.

I was so excited to style these bookcase shelves, I started imediately. Never mind that it was dinner time and my kids were hungry! Don’t worry, I did eventually feed them, bathe them and put them to bed like the good mama I am, but it was hard to tear myself away! Creating vignettes and arranging decor is one of my favorite things to do, and I get totally lost in it.

I had all of my favorite decorative items on the kitchen counter and piece by piece, and shelf by shelf I went to work! I have been collecting many of these things for quite some time, I was so excited to have a place to display everything. I love using items that tell a story and have meaning for our family. For example, This hurricane vase is filled with postcards from various trips we have taken.

I borrowed this tradition from the gals on my favorite home decorating blog, the DIY Playbook. Every time we go somewhere as a family, I buy a postcard and jot down a few details from the trip. Like the time we were surrounded by whales on a snorkeling tour in Maui, and the time Sadie got to “Dance the Magic” in a parade at Disneyland. Fun things for us to look back on as a family. Another personal item that has meaning is this cute little pineapple diffusser. I painted it at our local pottery painting studio called Bella Ceramica during a family outing.

The shelf closest to the kitchen is mostly decorated with my favorite kitchen items. Some of these things I use quite often, so it is nice to have them handy.

Some of the items are just for fun, like my little collection of vintage cameras…

I recently went to Target and decided to treat myself to some pretty new items to display on the shelf. I fell in love with this new line of dishes I found in the kitchen section. I shared a photo of one of the teacups on my instagram feed and was saying how it felt “Anthropology-ish” if one can use that as an adjective!

I originally bought the bowl but left the teacups as I already had a pretty full shopping cart, as I always do when I visit Target. I paid for my goodies, loaded up the car and then came back in to grab a coffee from Starbucks for the road. I couldn’t stop thinking about those cute teacups, and I knew I would regret it if I didn’t get them. It’s not like I could just pop back in the next day if I decided I really wanted them! Our closest Target is an hour away with a border crossing in the middle! So I ran back into the store and bought 4 teacups as well as these cute cold teaspoons.

As I mentioned above, one of the things I was missing after the great furniture swap of 2017 was the TV. It was actually as I was trying to figure out how to bring one back that I came up with the idea for the bookcases. I pulled the TV from our bedroom and it fit the shelf perfectly! We just drilled a little hole to feed the cords and cable through, and bam, Netflix and HGTV at the tip of my fingertips!

The last thing I want to mention that I am loving about these bookcases, is the potential for storage! I picked up these cute fabric bins from Target, and they are great for hiding the kids stuff.

While I love the look of rattan baskets, those don’t work well for little bits and pieces like Lego or Playmobil which are favorite toys around here.

I couldn’t be happier with the family room now and it finally feels “complete”! These bookcases have the look and function of built-ins but all in cost me around $400 to install. Of course this was because I scored a used shelf on Craigslist, but even if I paid full price, this project would have come to a little under $600.

I love to hear from you, please leave comments or questions below, or shoot me an email!

Thanks for reading!

xo, Kerri