Tanner’s grandfather built this beautiful rosewood cabinet that’s been in his mom’s house for years. When we bought our first home (just over a year ago, time flies) it was the first piece we asked for. The cool tone of the wood and the etched panels in the cabinet doors are just too pretty to pass up.
Plus, Tan is the proud owner of about 400 books. I wish I was exaggerating, but truly, he has read just about every history book in America. And he likes to be able to see them all. Unfortunately, there are just too many. I’m able to keep most of them on display in the top of the cabinet, but the rest are hidden. You can find them in boxes in the closet, in lower cabinets, and still in my sister’s house. It will stay that way until I can afford to purchase him his very own library. So… not any time soon.
History books have notoriously dark covers (especially when you love reading about doom and gloom.) The cabinets themselves are pretty dark, even when positioned across from the biggest window in the living room. And to top it off, there are no holes for electrical wires in the back of this hefty piece of furniture to run lights. I’m definitely not willing to put holes in an antique, so I had to get creative. Turns out, the solution took less than two hours and only two steps. Let’s discuss.
Two Ways To Bring Light Into Dark Cabinets
- Flip your books. Some people fundamentally disagree with this concept, especially avid readers. But let’s remember that Tanner has already read ALL of these books. Actually, about six of them are mine. I contribute! He likes to be able to see them so he can admire exactly how many books he’s read. But flipping them makes it a whole lot more impressive – he can see how many pages he’s read. Tens of thousands of pages of history text all neatly lined up in pretty shades of white. It satisfies my need for a less busy, eye-assaulting book storage system, and he gets to admire his accomplishments. Win-win.
- Get some cheap poster board. I picked up this idea from a friend who used emerald green poster board to brighten up an antique that she wasn’t willing to paint. (Bonnie, if you’re reading this, you are my interior design inspiration ALWAYS.) Pretty genius, if you ask me. I provide some more detailed instructions below, but let’s take a look at the before and afters.
How To Refresh an Antique Without Paint
This is for all you ladies out there who thought about chalk painting a perfectly good antique. Don’t do it. Put down the paint brush. I don’t care how easy it looked on Pinterest. You are about to ruin a perfectly good piece of furniture.
- Get some dollar store poster board. I bought two sheets and cut them to fit each shelf, but most antiques probably have removable shelves or at least the kind that you can slide a piece of paper behind, so you might be able to get away with using just one piece.
- Pick a texture, if you’d like. You might be able to find patterned or textured poster board at stores like Hobby Lobby. Just don’t put contact paper directly on an antique. If you fall in love with a print of contact paper, just roll it only your pre-cut poster and slide her all up in there.
- Keep your patterns simple. I just purchased white poster board and painted a subtle pattern in cream to keep it as low contrast as possible. It’s pretty to look at, but it doesn’t make it too busy or keep from bouncing as much light around as possible. Don’t focus on making it too perfect. My brushstrokes were messy and uneven, but I loved the way it looked.
- Make sure your pattern lines up on each shelf. I tried to paint the pattern the exact same way on each sheet so that they would line up appropriately on the three shelves.
Then you just slide those bad boys in there and put your decorations back. Done and done. With the paint and running to the dollar store, it took me about two hours. Easy as all get out. Here’s the end result. Hope you enjoy, and if you try something similar, tag me in your stories!