Love the look of high-end lighting from a designer living room, but can’t afford it? Here are some inexpensive bookshelf lighting ideas.
I added lights to our bookcase that totally look built-in. Except they aren’t. They are plugged in instead. Sharing the easy tutorial other bookshelf lighting ideas here.
Have you ever had a project that turned out SO MUCH BETTER THAN YOU EVEN IMAGINED?
You are sitting there in your living room looking at incredible living room pictures on Pinterest and you look at your living room and get inspired.
You look at your budget.
And then you get creative and imaginative and get an idea for something that might work? Something that might give you the look of the inspiration room for 1/10th of the cost? And you cross your budget fingers and toes and hope for the best.
AND THEN A DECORATING MIRACLE HAPPENS.
Bookshelf Lighting Ideas
Let’s go all Julie Andrews and start at the beginning.
It’s a very good place to start.
Here’s a picture of the built-ins in the family room before.
My mother had them built years ago.
I love them, but this room doesn’t get much natural light and except for a couple of hours a day, it can be pretty dark in here. Also, the bookcases didn’t really have any moldings and the shelves were kind of boring and needed a little molding.
Did I mention that the bookcases needed light?
I fell in love with those beautiful swing-arm lights that so many rooms have over their bookcases. And then? I priced the lights. And having them installed.
And then I found plug-in brass lights.
They were a much more affordable and they just PLUGGED IN.
I wondered if they would work.
I studied the bookcases and planned out how we could make them fit.
1. Add board to top of bookcase or built-in
First, we added a 10″ board to the top of the bookcases.
This gave the lights a place to attach to.
Then we extended the molding from the rest of the room around the top of the board on the bookcases.
2. Frame out bookcase to match top
Next, we added 1″x 2″ boards to the front of the shelves.
This gave the bookcase a more custom look.
You can see how the bookcase molding attaches at the top.
3. Paint the bookcase or built-in
Here’s a close-up of the molding attached to the front of the bookcase shelves.
We didn’t caulk it (but you can if you want to).
We just attached it and then primed and painted the entire bookcase.
4. Attach the lights
Here’s the entire bookcase after it was painted.
The plan for the lights (you can see bookcase lights here).
We wanted to attach them to the front of the bookcase and then thread the cord through the back of the shelves.
So we cut a hole in the board, screwed in the lights and then let the cord run down the back of the bookcases and just plugged them in rather than hard wiring them.
Here are the bookcases after we finished painting them and attaching the lights.
And here’s the same area WITH THE LIGHTS ON.
Can you believe the difference?
I think we need another look.
Here are the lights off.
And here the same angle with the lights on.
ISN’T IT SO MUCH BETTER?
Here are the bookcase shelves so you can see how we threaded the cord through.
I’m actually going to add a few books on the other side to hide it, but I wanted you to see what the cord looks like.
Some of the bookcases were easier to hide the cord than others.
Here’s a close-up of the cord.
It’s clear so you don’t really even notice it.
And when I put a few books in front of it, it will disappear.
We had to drill holes in the built-ins in places to make sure we had enough plugs.
You can see where we’ve drilled a hole here.
To make life even easier?
It was a little challenging to turn the lights on and off because the switch is at the top of the bookcases, so I have the lights on the bookcase plugged into a timer.
It just turns them on in the morning and turns them off at night.
Here’s the view of the lights on last night with the kitchen lights.
Isn’t it amazing how such a simple project can make such a difference in a room?
Even the room was happy.
I snapped this picture last night when the sunlight started dancing across the room.
It heard there were new lights in the room.
And it wanted to say hello.
PS You can find bookcase lights here.
I also have a Pinterest board full of lighting finds.
PPS Have you ever adding lighting to your bookcases before? I’d love to hear your story, glory. 🙂
disclosure: affiliate links are used in this post.