Just Add Paint! Easy Library Décor Through Upcycling

Paint is one of the cheapest ways to freshen up a space, or tie together a brand new one. But usually people picture painting walls with it…instead, I’m going to encourage you to paint your stuff.

Random, mismatched, eclectic…and most of all cheap…stuff!

First step, mix up some paint.

If you’re working on your home décor, choose three or four colors that go well together. I love the little paint chips you can get that show you coordinated palettes. I usually look at them and am floored because I would never think of combining some colors. Trendy is not my middle name, but I love when other people give me creative ideas!

If you’re decorating a library, check to see if your school has a style guide that can help you choose your paint colors. I printed mine out (make sure your color laser printer’s colors are accurate!) and then I matched them up with paint chips at my local home improvement store. I love these little sample sizes from Valspar…if you only have a few things to paint, or just want to test things out, they are a great starting point.

Tiny little paint samples!

Once I determined that I liked the colors (and had quickly used up the samples!) I purchased a quart of each color, except for my main color that I was planning to paint some bigger projects with—I got a gallon of that.

Also pick up a metallic spray paint for an accent. I chose two, a hammered copper (which hides a multitude of sins/imperfections) and a bright chrome.

Second step, find some junk.

I find things everywhere. Scrounge through the clearance shelves at your local home décor and craft stores. Search for things in hideous colors but with great style at local thrift stores. Discover antiques and oddities at yard sales. When you know you can make anything match, suddenly you see possibilities everywhere!

Because if you have good paint, you can make anything you find anywhere look very intentional. Your space will look like you searched the world over for things that look custom-made for your space. Nobody needs to know that custom-made means spray painting it in your back yard!

Here are some things I have upcycled in this way to match my library:

A map of the United States, found at a local craft store for under $10 (it was originally in pastel blues and pinks).

A set of luggage (beige and dingy…but my parents had the exact same set when I was growing up so as soon as I saw it in a yard sale it had to come home with me.)

Modular display boxes. I made mine out of MDF (medium density fiberboard) which is a very cheap wood composite.

Artist canvases, which were then connected together to form an art piece. Add letters or shapes in your other colors to tie everything together!

Miscellaneous metalwork. I love finding random things and giving them all a coat of my accent metallic spray paint so they all go together. I even painted this old book cart to match! A coppery makeover!

Have fun! Once you know that you can make anything match your décor, it opens up way more possibilities to you!

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