Our landing space a month ago, pre-built ins

A month ago, the landing looked like this.

Two chairs and two baskets and two shutters and two monogrammed chair covers.

And two desks and two walls.

This wall is the first thing you see when you come up the stairs to the top of the landing.  You can see it from the outside at night when the lights are on through the giant window over the window seat.

I liked this look, but I wanted the wall to stand up and be counted.

I wanted it to represent.

I wanted it to think it was kind of a big deal.

In other words, I wanted built-ins.

The new built ins, in progress- I'm so excited!

A month later it looked like this.

The unpainted bookcases.

The built-ins filled the wall.

A detail shot of the new built in book cases

They were built on top of off-the-rack cabinets from the home improvement store.

Wood planks were added to the size and the top to create shelving on both sides and over the door.

The next step was to paint it.  I couldn’t decide if I should go gray or maybe just gray in the back or all white or maybe a patterned wallpaper on the back of the shelves.

But in the end?

After trying different things and different looks, I went all classic.

All white to match the moldings.

Here’s the after.

Here's how they look after- can you believe the change?

I love how they look like they have always been here.

I’m still deciding on hardware and maybe (possibly) (not sure yet) painting the backs.

I have to live with it a little and see if I want to be friends with the gray.

A view of the new built ins from the staircase

Here’s the view when you come up the stairs.


Just saying the word built-in makes me smile.

But here’s the best part.

The story doesn’t end here.


Another look at the built ins, before they were finished off.

I was standing here looking at these bookcases when then looked like this.

Wondering when I could fit in the time to paint them.

I had a deadline for the next book and curtains to sew and an entire photo crew coming to my house.

I didn’t have a single painting minute in the schedule.

And then?

I had the most brilliant idea on the planet.

Here's the finished and styled bookcase in the landingKey decorations and unique items add extra pop to the new bookcases

I went all Mark Twain and came up with a painting contest.

I took the twins by the hand and led them into the landing area and gestured toward the bookcases.

“Which one of you is the faster painter?” I asked.

“Who do you think could paint their side of the bookcase the fastest?”

Here's the other side of the landing, with the mirrored built in bookcase

Natural and unique elements add pop to your home decor

Westleigh told me she was faster.

And then this is where my plan fell apart.

Whitney told me Westleigh was faster, too.

If you know Whitney, you know that she never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings.  She’s always rescuing someone.  She’s always sitting by the lonely person at the lunch table.  She makes extra lunches for friends.  She saves up her money to buy extra school supplies for people.

I love all those things about her.

They are wonderful traits.

But now?  I needed a little competition.

So I upped the ante.

Here's another view of the new built ins

“First finished bookcase side gets a new pair of the flip-flops that lace up,” I said.

That did it.

They were off.

Nothing makes a brush paint faster than a new pair of summer sandals.

Make sure you have a few personal items to add an extra touch to your shelving

And so it was that amidst laughter and giggles and paint drops and Taylor Swift, two bookcases got painted.

I never learned who finished first.

I was downstairs and walked up the steps to see two completed bookcases and two sisters wearing paint clothes and bandanas standing arm in arm.

I couldn't be happier with the end result- these new bookcases are perfect for our space.

“We did it, mom,” they chorused.

And so they did.

I wasn’t sure which made me the happiest.

The finished built-ins.

The smiles on their faces.

Or the fact that they crossed the finish line together. 🙂

The twins- aka my amazing painters

PS  If you are ever in the neighborhood and happen to see two blonde-haired twins wearing matching flip flops….

….now you know the rest of the story.

PPS  This isn’t the first time they’ve crossed the finish line together.

Here’s another story for your morning coffee.

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  1. Image for RW RW

    They do look like they've always been there on that landing. Well done to the painters! Hope to be shown what hardware you select -- and why. BTW, I like them all white, even the backs. The wood flooring pops! ( And I want to fill them with books. And more books. )

  2. Image for Lisa Lisa

    I think this situation is what’s known as a win-win!! I love these built ins and they do look like they’ve always been there.♥️

  3. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    Beautiful, KariAnne!! I'm envious.. but in a good way.. 😋😚. Knowing how I feel about color, I do wonder how some color in the background would look. It doesn't have to be bold, but softer.. ( I'll compromise with you.. 😉) By now, I would expect no less from those angelic twins of yours!!! 😇

  4. Image for Barbara Barbara

    Brilliant! All three of you WIN:) Love the built-ins and the way you styled them. I bet it looks pretty at night with the lamps on!!

  5. Image for graham graham

    I love your girls- can I have them? The bookcases are great all white- but what are lace-up flip flops. I can't imagine- can you show a picture of them too?

    1. Image for KariAnne Wood KariAnne Wood

      Graham, Here you go: https://fairandsquareimports.com/accessories/sseko-sandal-sole They are from a fair trade shop in our neighborhood. You lace them up with these in different colors: https://fairandsquareimports.com/accessories/print-sseko-sandal-straps-uganda Happy day friend! karianne

  6. Image for Cindy@countyroad407 Cindy@countyroad407

    The amount of favorite spots in your house is growing and growing! I really hope one day (just one day) I'm homeless so I can knock on the door and Whitney answers. Then maybe I could live there in all my favorite spaces! The shelves look amazing in white and what a great mom you are...pitting your children against each other like that - genius! ;)

  7. Image for Teresa G Teresa G

    Awesome job from your girls! They must have inherited some of your skills. I might have been a bit hesitant to hand over such an important job to my teens, but yours definitely came through! Can't wait to see the hardware you choose.

  8. Image for Carrie Carrie

    Lace-up flip flops? Please share a picture~ I love flip flops all summer long~ almost as much as I love your stories~ and bookcases and all the things that bring them all together.

  9. Image for Linda Linda

    These are the cutest girls. I love when you share pictures of them, especially of all of them on the stoop of the porch when they were little. Have a great day and stay cool in that Texas heat!

  10. Image for elizabeth@pineconesandacorns elizabeth@pineconesandacorns

    They look beautiful! I love the new look. Your girls paint beautifully, but then they learned form the best. Send them to my house I will buy them and entire wardrobe, I do not like painting and I am trying to muster the energy to paint 2 bedrooms.

  11. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    What a great Mom you are KariAnne! I love that you know your twins so well. Your painted builtin bookcases look awesome, thanks for providing the way you got the bookcases painted. Your lovely daughters did a great job painting.

  12. Image for Janette Janette

    They look like they really 'belong' there, fabulous job and even more fabulous paint job, your girls did good...they deserve the flip flops, enjoy girls...xx

  13. Image for Carol@BlueskyatHome Carol@BlueskyatHome

    The bookcases are beautiful and the perfect solution to the blank wall; storage and display and focal point, all in one. Cheap labor is great, uh? Flip~flops and fun are worth every penny. P.S. I love bookshelves that go over doors.

  14. Image for BeverlyO BeverlyO

    I just LOVE the classic look of your built-ins and how they look original to the space. You are a genius and your girls did a fabumundo job! I think they look wonderful just as they are and cannot believe that I’m going to guide you to an example that is modern and a pop of color but I also love what Jennifer did to hers and I’m considering taking the plunge with the back of a china cabinet I have. Maybe I’ll go with a more neutral color but maybe I’ll be brave and go green! So, I thought you might want to let this idea ferment and then adapt it in your own way as well: https://www.dimplesandtangles.com/2018/03/hand-painted-bamboo-bookshelf-backs.html?m=1

  15. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I absolutely love the white!!! That’s my favorite of your choices! And of course those fabulous twins crossed at the same time—that means they both get those great sandals to support a great cause!!!

  16. Image for Tracy Tracy

    I do not know if this helps but I tacked fabric material that I had extra of to the back of my bookcases. I cut it to fit inside my bookcase to give it a splash of color without anything being permanent. Can change it out also with the holidays. Maybe a cute snowman pattern for winter? Hope this helps some. Take care.

  17. Image for Brenda Farris Brenda Farris

    I love when we moms can be sneaky (in a good way). My eye went from the bookcases directly to the downstairs little peek of the blue small bookcase shown in the picture. Hmmm....maybe it's giving you a hint! Love your joyful spirit, thank you for sharing with us!

  18. Image for RitaJoy RitaJoy

    I don’t even know why...but reading that sentence of the sisters crossing the finish line together just made me burst into a blubber cry... I think I miss my sisters!😉 Anyway, I love the white bookcases, and what a great parenting tip bonus!😊

  19. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    Haha, I love the whole "I went Mark Twain" thing. And it worked! Beautiful painted built-ins and happy girls with matching flip-flops! :D So cute. (the built-ins are too). hugs, Cecilia

  20. Image for Michele (Finch Rest) Michele (Finch Rest)

    Those two beauties - who take after their momma in so many ways - are just growing up so fast, Your bookcases truly do look as though they've always been there. Brilliant idea - looks AMAZING! Well done, ladies!

  21. Image for Diane Diane

    I just happened upon your blog not too long ago... You are a fabulous decorator AND writer. I always get a chuckle out of something you say. And I really look forward to your blog. Great ideas!!

  22. Image for Sandi Sandi

    You make me wish I had given birth to twins! They are so cute and I'm sure so much fun! I love the bookcases and have pinned on Pinterest several pictures like this. I'm fairly new to your blog, but love those twins!

  23. Image for Sue Sue

    Nine o'clock at night; I have a happy story to end my day and two beautiful daughters of yours to see and let's not forget the awesome built-ins!! What an great difference.

  24. Image for Michelle Michelle

    That was Mom Brilliance! Never thought of doing such a thing when my kids were growing up but I sure wish I had. Not too late to pass the brilliance on to them to incorporate with their kids, though :-)

  25. Image for DeMarie Ingraham DeMarie Ingraham

    You rock as a decorator, but more importantly, as a mom, you’re the glitterbomb! Love the shelves the color they are. Hardware will complete their look. I like the books and nickyknacks to speak for themselves.


    Your beautiful twins did a fabulous job of painting! Love that you went with the white paint! Blessings!

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