Best options for tarting up horrid 80s wall unit?
October 16, 2014 3:13 PM   Subscribe

I am going to need a bookcase in a room I am redecorating. Downstairs is a HORRIBLE 80s chipboard wall unit thing with dark, not at all convincing fakey veneer. Complication: I'm redecorating the room to a Hannibal theme.

So... what can I do about this hideous thing to turn it into something Hannibal would have in his house? I'm painting the walls dark blue, maybe the simplest thing is to paint it in the same colour?

Should I stencil it, glue interesting features to it? Or just burn it and get some IKEA Billy cubes instead?

I'm going to get some Van Gogh almond-blossom wallpaper from Spoonflower to put on a comparably crap wardrobe on the other side of the room. I don't know if it would work to do the same trick twice.

How can I customize such a thing to convince Hannibal I am a bleeding edge design vampire and in no way a well scrubbed rube?
posted by tel3path to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Best answer: Put the paper on just the back wall of the shelf and paint the rest of it in the tan/off-white color of the almond blossoms. This is assuming you can get a decent finish on the paint over the veneer. If you don't like off-white, maybe one of the greys from the bark?
posted by soelo at 3:30 PM on October 16, 2014

Best answer: I am seconding soelo's suggestion of just putting the wallpaper on the back walls of the shelves like so (Top 2 photos in link). I also agree with the tan/off-white color of the blossoms for the paint color. But if you think it's too complicated to paint it, then you may consider leaving it as is (with the wallpaper added) so long as the dark hues that outline the branches complements the dark color of the unit. I think this contrast might look nice and differentiate it from the unit across the room that would be lighter (assuming you are using wallpaper for the whole thing). But using the wallpaper twice in the room would bring continuity to the pieces, so I think that is a good idea regardless of if you choose to paint them.

Another option that could work is removing the back part of the shelving unit (if it is cardboard) and letting the wall show through (see link for primer below for photo similar). I did this once and it worked, but make sure it wouldn't compromise the integrity of the unit itself. (I affixed mine unit to the wall to be safe.)

For the wardrobe, you could also consider using the wallpaper for just the door faces, and painting the sides similar to how you would for the shelving unit. It would save you on wallpaper and the complications that go with fussing with corners and edges.

If you paint it, be sure to get a primer meant for smooth and glossy surfaces or else it will literally peel off at the slightest provocation (I have first hand experience with this nightmare!). Here is one And I have found tiny rollers work like a charm and give a smooth finish.

Good luck!
posted by LillyBird at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2014

Best answer: I have Billy bookcases and when I moved to a house with pine paneling, it was so much wood. Took off the backs, painted the back side linen, tacked back on. (the original fake wood now faces the wall.) Lighter, brighter, better. Wallpaper the back, paint the shelves and sides. If this is the room, paint the sides and shelves grey.
posted by theora55 at 8:46 PM on October 16, 2014

Response by poster: theora55, I am applying to Staten Island Museum for permission to reproduce that mural as wallpaper, which I will apply to the interior backs of the shelves and probably to the cupboard doors at the bottom.

If I do this, would you still recommend that I paint the fake woodwork grey? Pro: same colour as woodwork in Hannibal's dining room; con: fake.
posted by tel3path at 2:56 AM on October 17, 2014

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