Built Ins in Rich Colors

By Kate Riley April 18, 2023

I’m getting ready to paint the bookcases in our downstairs study that I’m converting to a library/reading room. Right now they’re plain white and that’s been fine for a few years but the more I look at them the more I want to paint them a rich mid tone shade of blue or green. I want to create a moody enclosed space I can retreat to on rainy afternoons with a good book, or early in the morning before every one else awakes.

I went in search of inspiration and noticed how in many of these spaces, the ceilings are painted the same as the built ins which helps to envelop the space. Surrounding the occupants with deep color on the walls and ceilings acts as an invitation to linger longer. Examples below.

byrd design 

meredith ellis

 scout & nimble

marie flanigan


jake arnold

mcgee & co



jillian richey


via high fashion home

christopher scott cabinetry


mcgee & co



amber interiors

via flor 


crate & barrel


bria hammel


  1. Notice that in all your inspo photos ( except the Crate and Barrel one) the rooms have big exposed windows. That’s the key I think. Without natural light the dark ceiling can be overwhelming. But I love the mood!!!

  2. Lovely rooms, but I have to say I’m continually impressed (with a couple of exceptions) by how few books there are in these “libraries “ or on these “bookshelves “. Is this maybe a type of poverty in our culture?

    I love the fact that the room you’re redesigning will be a place for a quiet read and peaceful contemplation.

    • yes I’m excited! I’ve found spending an hour in solitude and contemplation is so healing to the soul. :)

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