Our Styled Built In Billys

March 21, 2012

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




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Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

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I spent my whole day yesterday filling all of these empty shelves:

I wanted these built-ins to be a good mix of books and color.  I wanted it to not be so serious, as a bookcase completely filled with books or glass objects can be.  We are pretty playful people and I think these built ins reflect that:


Gah!  What do you notice first?  Huh?  Perhaps the yellow National Geographics lining our skinniest bookshelves.  Or maybe the pops of turquoise scattered throughout.  Or all the baskets!  Strap in, you’re in for a full-blown source list. 


On the top right of the built-ins are two black and silver plates from Pier One.  They were on sale for $4.50 each and I got the stands at Hobby Lobby for $2.99.  Down a shelf–The large silver frame and white mat were found in the Ikea As-Is section for $3!  The “art” inside is actually a thick and gorgeous wood placemat from Pier One I got for $5.  Art is all around us, eh?  The turquoise vase was $10 from Ikea, the gold-ish vase I had on hand, but I believe it is from Ross.  The little natural mirror is from Ikea for less than $3.

Moving down, we have a collection of books and a souvenir from our cruise to Mexico 3 years ago.  The little turquoise glass lamp is from Target for $12.99 and the shade, also Target, was $7.50–although they are currently having a buy one, get one 50% off home decor sale, so the little set was a screaming deal.  (Also–we still need to get a plug plate for the plug hiding behind that, oops!) Below that, is a family photo, a framed envelope from a letter exchanged between Chris and I (we fell in love through letters…handwritten ones), a little green candle and my favorite yellow pear–a $6.99 HomeGoods find.  Two pillows stacked on the bottom shelf (have had them forever!) add color, while still keeping it Greta-friendly.

 On the top shelf of the other side is a great basket I found at Home Goods for $6.99 and a large, glass, turquoise candle holder from target for $11 stacked atop my old year books.  :) Below, “friendship” bamboo from Ikea ($5) is appropriate placed next to a “We Not Me” poster (found here) in a simple black $5.99 Ikea poster frame.  The wooden gesture doll is from Ikea and the little gold pot I had on hand and I spray painted gold.

These two frames I had on hand.  The caricature (I’m pretty sure you’ve seen) is by my talented friend, Lance Fry.  Next door, is a simple $2 white frame from Ikea with a paint chip in it to create a little ombre art.  I threw a couple yarn balls in mason jar and paired it with a vase I had on hand.  Below that are some white storage containers I found in the as-is section of Ikea for less than $2 and a few of my old art books.  On the bottom shelf is a huge storage basket filled with Greta’s blocks.  I was so happy to find this at Ross for $19.99.  It’s big enough to store toys for Greta and narrow enough to fit in the built-ins.  It was one of my favorite finds.

Overtop of the television, is an old encyclopedia collection I found in the online classifieds for $10.  The basket in the middle is from Ross. While we are talking about classified finds, all of the National Geographics I found on KSL (like Craigslist) for $30!  A 13 gallon bin filled to the top with National Geographics. So far, I have discovered some dating back to 1954, and some newer issues from 2003. We have already enjoyed looking through a few with little Greta.

Below the television is another basket (I can’t help it…I just love ’em) from HomeGoods that stores our remotes and a few odds and ends.  In the center slot is our DVD player and Apple TV and a pot of artificial grass from Ikea that is conveniently placed right where all the cords run up to the television.  Next door–our very modest dvd collection.  :) I spy Arrested Development.
Remember the built-ins on the other side of the sliding door?:


We filled those, too:

On the top shelf, is a metal tray we got from my Uncle Victor for our wedding.  It’s gorgeous and we are so glad we finally have an appropriate place to display it.  On the second shelf is all of Chris’s cookbooks.  He reads them like novels. Really.  And having them so close to the dining room makes sense so that he can grab one to refer to when he is cooking, if need be.  Below, I displayed the magazine art I whipped up a couple months ago and a couple more white storage boxes from Ikea.  
On the third shelf from the bottom I paired some more National Geographics to tie in with the other built-ins and a jar we had on hand filled with some dried spit peas for a pop of green–we work with what we got.  Below, is a few board games and on the bottom shelf is a basket of a some of Greta’s books and a giraffe that I have always had, that she has recently taken a liking to.  

Whew! And that, my friends, is what we call a wrap.  Favorite part for me? I honestly love the yellow National Geographics–they were our first find and really served as a jumping point.  What do you love?  What would you change?  Is there such a thing as too many baskets?

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What do you think?

  1. Patricia says:

    I wrote a lengthy comment several days ago nevertheless it never turned
    up here. I ‘dn’t wwant to compose all that again.
    Nonetheless, I have truly enjoyed looking through your web site posts.

  2. Marissa says:

    Looks great! I find that I re-style my bookshelves every year or two, which has been a nice way to enjoy our collections of favorite books and souvenirs (we have too many to display all at once).
    Just one suggestion: have you considered painting the wall underneath the bookshelves white? To my eye, this would give it a more integrated look (especially the solitary bookshelf on the end). They look great regardless– just an option!

    Job well done!

  3. They look great! You did an awesome job and I’m in love with those National Geographics! What a great find!

  4. Patty.Published. says:

    *sigh* It’s gorgeous. I wish we weren’t renting. And I could pay you to come do my house.
    DIY Hint: Libraries often give away or sell (for SUPER cheap) magazine collections.
    You got a steal… but if anyone else is looking… ask your local librarian.

  5. erica says:

    Gorgeous!! I am stealing your idea of placemats for art. I just bought some silver frames and haven’t been able to decide what to put in them. Off to Pier One…

  6. Kim says:

    Wow, those bookcases look amazing! Love all the pops of color, yet it’s not crazy! All I put on my bookcases are book and photos, basically a storage space. guess I should re-think that plan.

  7. I wish we lived closer! Haha. We live about 45 minutes away from the nearest Ikea, which is 25 more minutes than we used to live while apartment dwellers–but I guess it keeps our place from looking like an Ikea catalog–which is a good thing.

  8. The side skinny bookshelf is so classy. You could have so easily just left that small of a space a grey wall, but you built up from it! Your ideas still blow me away like “I think I’ll just frame a paint swatch, put some yarn balls next to it!” Did you consider closeness to IKEA in buying a house? Just wonderin ;-)

  9. Lauren2028 says:

    Wow! This room is amazing! And there isn’t even furniture in there yet :) I regularly read your blog and love seeing your decorating designs. You are so talented! Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  10. Sara says:

    I read your blog everyday and have been for the past couple months and I just have to say it’s great and I can tell you’re going to have a lot of success in the next couple years if you play your cards right. Just wanted to say that but on to the bookcases.

    I love them but I feel they’re a little to cluttered I think you could pull a few things down and it would be more simple. Your design aesthetic is more modern then contemporary so I think it would look better if there was just less. But like I said it looks wonderful that’s just my opinion from what I’ve seen throughput the rest of your house.

  11. Amanda @ Our Humble A{Bowe}d says:

    Looks awesome! Styling bookshelves can be tricky, but I love the National Geographics. Such a fun pop of color and fun reads. :)

  12. Great feedback, Sara! Thank you. I am sure it will go under constant tweak-age as we enjoy it in the days and years to come.

  13. Love everything about these book cases. You styled them beautifully!

  14. just fantastic.
    all of it.
    everything takes the eys away from the tv – so that it’s not the first thing that you look at.
    that is what I call a great successful wall of amazing!!!!!
    well done you two.
    very clever – both of you.

  15. Andrea says:

    GORGEOUS!!! Your styling work is great and I love, love, LOVE the National Geographics.

  16. Kristine says:

    sooo exciting!!! they look so so good! i love them. all the details are so interesting and cool. and you’ll love changing them up when you find new art and books etc. i’m wishing i had some built in shelves..
    good work!

  17. wow!! the yellow bindings of the Nat. Geographics are such a focal point! i’m so jealous of your styling abilities…i don’t feel like i can ever create anything that looks that good!

    plus the mix of nice plates/decor and personal items like the framed letter is just perfect :)

  18. Jessie McKinley says:

    Everything looks incredible!! I love it all. Like everyone else, I love the National Geographics (So clever!) but it is all really awesome. The wooden placemat is such a great idea…I never would have thought! And I love the pops of turquoise. You really do have a gift!

  19. Thanks so much Robin–we’re just getting started!

  20. Oh man, I hear ya. It takes HOOUUUURRRSSS

  21. Thanks–we’re definitely going for casual!

  22. She HASN’T climbed them. There is enough to interest her on the bottom few Greta-friendly shelves to keep her busy…. for now.

  23. brandilyn says:

    bookcases are my latest everest in our (teeny, tiny, 1-bdr) apartment. i’ve been obsessively gutting and cleaning (i hate the word “nesting”) and have spent what feels like HOURS rearranging and fiddling with stuff trying to get it to look just right. you’d think it’d be simple, right? anyways, yours look fantastic.

  24. Robin says:

    They look great all filled in and styled! Its so cool that you were able to get the encyclopedias and national geographics on the classifieds, and I love the large basket on the bottom left for all the texture it brings. The room looks so much better than before already!

  25. Jen says:

    Looks great! Very unique and unexpected. I love how you used so many varying colors but it all still flows well together. The overall effect isn’t too precious or fragile looking – definitely comes off as casual and livable. Nice work!

  26. meaganbriggs3 says:

    I am soooooo overly anal about balance and keeping things the same mainly because I don’t know how to do what YOU do. You have the perfect eye. The right balance. The right colors. The right texture. The right amount of everything. I, obviously, have a LOT to learn :-) the national geographics are perrrrrfect. Holy cow. I knew what they were just by looking at that first picture. We had lots of those growing up and I always loved reading through them. The add a perfect pop of color but still maintaining a purpose since they are educational and totally bookshelf worthy :-)

    Pat yourself on the back!

    Ps, has Greta tried to climb these built ins yet???

  27. HOLY COW!!! You are good at using what you have on hand! “Split peas”?!?!? No way.

    I honestly love it. The National Geographics are my fave. And the baskets work! You need baskets so you don’t have remotes and other odds and ends hanging out everywhere. Great job!

  28. Sadie Jane says:

    That post is VERY inspiring! Everything looks amazing! I love how you put everything together and how all the special pieces look so great together! Great job!

  29. Missy in NoVa says:

    I have seen your comments over at YHL for ages now, and I finally came over to check out your space. I have spent the last week catching up on all your archives (wow, that sounds totally stalker-y!). And, I just have to say, you guys are so inspiring! I love watching your design/style/blog evolve over the years. Congrats on the success! And your “built-ins” are GORG-eous!!

  30. Melinda Page says:

    This is killer, I’m a little obsessed, I’ve been showing Scott the process almost everyday and he is loving it too. We can’t wait until we grow up and get to do cool stuff like this. I love the idea of encyclopedias and also the pop of yellow National Geographics, so cool!

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We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

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