Before and After: A “Buy Nothing” IKEA Bookcase Gets a High-End Look for $70

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Sometimes you have something very specific in mind for a corner of your home. Maybe you just feel it in your gut that a Scandinavian-inspired chair would be ideal in a bedroom nook, or your entryway couldn’t possibly be complete without the right piece of art on an empty wall. In Madeline Scalzi’s case (@tulipsforthetable), she couldn’t shake the sense that her living room desperately needed the right bookcase. 

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She planned to turn it into a replica of the black, white, and glass-faced bookcases she had seen online, which were far outside her budget. “At prices starting at nearly $1,000-plus, I knew there had to be another more affordable option,” says Madeline. So on a very cold, icy January night last year, she bribed her husband and a good friend to carry the IKEA bookcase six long New York City blocks to their apartment. 

“I did not anticipate how many coats of white primer and paint I would need to cover the deep red color of the initial cabinet,” says Madeline. But her efforts were well-rewarded. The bright interior really pops against the dark black exterior, which helps the whole piece hold its own beside an existing wood secretary desk.

“Lastly, I added these gorgeous brass handles from Amazon that are surprisingly high quality for the cost,” says Madeline. In all, this high-impact DIY project took a little less than two weekends to do, and cost $70. As soon as it was finished, she kicked her old bookcase to the curb and made that living room corner a showstopper.

“I love the way this piece turned out, and for $70 all-in, even better,” says Madeline. “I now have a beautiful place where I can show off my favorite coffee table books and trinkets from our travels.” 



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