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Add a shot of color to a room by painting the inside back of your bookshelves. It’ll give books, tchotchkes and that shiny new iPod speaker set a sassy showcase.

PRIMER Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 water-base primer-sealer lowes.com
PAINT Latex eggshell in Rosemary Green benjaminmoore.com
BOOKCASE “Billy” $59 ikea.com


Remove the bookcase’s back panel. Some units have a track that lets you slide it in and out; others require unscrewing a few bolts. If your shelves are built-in or the back panel isn’t removable, use blue painters’ tape to mask off the areas adjacent to those you want to paint. (Note: Get wide tape and mask carefully to avoid splattery mistakes.)


Dust the panel or the areas to be painted, then wipe with a damp sponge and allow to dry. Lay the panel on newspaper or drop cloth—do this part outside, if possible. Use a roller to coat it with water-base primer-sealer; let it dry according to the directions on the can. Next, use a clean, dry roller to apply a thin coat of latex paint in your chosen color. Apply at least two more coats, letting the paint dry between applications.


Once the surface no longer feels tacky (let it dry for several hours or, better yet, overnight) you can slide the panel back into the track or screw it back on. Or, if you’ve used the masking method, peel off the tape, taking care not to tear the latex paint. Now your bookshelves bring a whole new meaning to the word wallflower.