Painting these shelves took me almost all of last week, plus the whole weekend to dry, but now they are finally finished and styled and I'm super happy with them.
They went from a creamy white to a bright white, and while the color change may be subtle, the difference it makes in the room is huge. The bright white looks so much better with the seating, and the shelves look a lot cleaner. (The old color was starting to yellow a lot and was covered in chips thanks to a bunch of moves in the last few years.) Originally I'd wanted to go with a high-gloss white so that they'd really shine, but I was worried since I was hand painting them that the high gloss would show every single imperfection. So I played it safe and went with a satin finish. Even though they aren't as dramatic as I was originally hoping for, I really really like their new look.
I know the difference in the photos is not glaringly obvious but it's a bit easier to see if you compare the shelves to the wall color. In the before photos the shelves blend into the wall more because they're almost the same color; in the after photos the shelves stand out from the wall and match the white chair rail instead.
Here's a side-by-side of the shelves on the left side of the room to make it a little easier to see:
Accessorizing shelves is pretty much my favorite thing in the whole wide world to do, so I had a ton of fun filling these back up. I kept them mostly the same as before but I loaded them up a little more and a few shelves did get some pretty big styling changes. I think the shelves almost look bigger with more stuff on them. I tried to stagger "full" shelves with more simple ones.
Look what's on this one- my new book.
I'm sure I'll be playing with the accessorizing some more over the next few days but all in all I'm really happy with the whole look. I'm so glad I took the time to paint them; subtile as it may seem in these photos it really does make the whole room look fresher.