A little living room DIY

April 30, 2014



Hi friends! So here’s a little project I’ve been working on off and on for the past week. You may have noticed when I gave the living room tour that I left out one of our four walls. It was on purpose, I’m afraid. :/ I just couldn’t bear anyone seeing our ugly black shelves…


But now they are no more! Thanks to one of my favorite ways to spruce up a room — paint. A small project like this can really brighten up your living space if you rent and your room doesn’t get too much natural light. Adding a pop of gold can give off the radiance of sunshine, almost like a faux spotlight, showcasing whatever collection you choose to place there. And I just really like gold right now, ha. #trending


What you’ll need:

  • Paintbrushes of various sizes
  • Sandpaper
  • Gold paint (I got mine from this amazing DIY home goods shop in Tokyo called Tokyu Hands.)
  • White primer (not pictured because I didn’t use it… and I regret it.)
  • White glossy paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • A painter’s easel (or a paper cup… whatev you’ve got works just fine.)
  • A dropcloth


Originally, what was placed on the shelves were just bits and bobs that were floating around our apartment. For this little makeover, D and I knew we really wanted to show off a cool collection of fun objects because the shelves are one of the first things you see when you walk through the door.

At first we thought “vintage cameras”! Yes, a great collection of vintage cameras can look amazing on shelves. So we headed off to a local hole-in-the-wall antique shop we had found near where we live here in Hong Kong. We found cameras from the early 1900s to mid-century that were so lovely. But, alas, their prices were not so lovely. Each one was about $120 USD. And we needed anywhere from four to eight…

Walking away, disenchanted and gloomy, we realized we happened to be right next to one of our favorite Japanese shops, Village Vanguard. (Think: Urban Outfitters home accessories, but way, way quirkier, and that’s Vanguard.) There, we found the fun mermaid teapot, a bowl wearing another bowl as a hat, an Indian lady made of three bowls wearing earrings and one $3 red elephant that all now align our top shelf. Total cost: $33.

Everything on our bottom shelf we already had and just did a little redesign on how it was displayed.


So back to the process! I painted the shelves in a glossy white after sanding them down and lining the edges with painter’s tape. The man at the local paint shop sold me enamel paint, though, which really isn’t the right paint for shelves. It’s more of a paint for trim or for metal, which I realized too late. To make matters worse, with every stroke, the brushes I was sold would lose their bristles, becoming embedded into my paint. Trying to remove the bristles with my hands only made it that much worse.

So make sure you get high-quality paintbrushes, especially when working with glossy paint, since any mishaps are much more noticeable. You also don’t want to use a glossy coat as your base for the gold (painting 101, which I forgot, of course) because it’s much harder for the gold to adhere. What would have been just a couple coats of gold paint, turned into more like eight. My arm hurts just thinking about it.



Overall, though, we really like how the shelves turned out. The gold gives us that little bit of sunshine we were looking for, while the white makes the space look a teensy bit bigger. Now I’m looking for more things I can paint gold… (besides my nails, ha).


☁ -Kristin