Painted Media Cabinet & Bookshelf Styling

Painting the back of our media cabinet was one of the first projects I tackled when we moved into this house over three years ago.  I chose Jamestown Blue and painted the cabinets mostly while my then 4 month-old slept.  It’s a pretty calming blue that worked well for a long time, but I was ready for a change- to dark gray.  I considered having the whole cabinet painted, but the quote was too high and I’m not confident enough in my painting skills to tackle such a big focal piece in our home by myself.  But, I can handle painting the back cabinet walls alone.  It only took one Sunday afternoon.

I used Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze (matte), the same color I painted our back kitchen cabinets to create a cohesive look.  The two photos were taken at different times of day, and the white part of the cabinet (Sherwin Williams Divine White) is more like the top photo- it looks a little warm in the bottom picture.  The Urbane Brown is a dark gray, with a slight hint of brown in it.
I did not prime or paint white over the blue, just applied two coats of the Urbane Bronze.
The best part of painting is removing the painters tape and admiring your work! I’m not good enough for cutting in by hand, but maybe someday.
As soon as the paint was dry, I got to work restyling the shelves.  I changed some objects and books around since they looked different against the dark gray.  I love how white pops against the dark background, so I added more white accessories.  A few books with dreary covers were recovered in a silver snakeskin or plain white wrapping paper.
The faux boxwood came in a brown ceramic pot that I spray painted white.  I found the tiger print on Etsy.  I have a couple more prints I’d like to sprinkle in, but this is good for now.
On the left side, a funky pair of candlesticks flanks a picture of James when he first started walking-sweet memories! Varying the height and color of the books with pops of lime green and pink keeps the bookshelves from looking too serious.
That lime green book on the far left is covered in scrapbook paper too, to bring in more of that cheerful color.
On top, I spray painted a larger black frame white and covered one of the books with blue and white quatrefoil paper.  For almost all of the books on the shelves, the jackets were removed.
Most of you know that this media cabinet was built-in when the house was built, so it wasn’t purchased from a store.  A few industrious people have asked about measurements and so forth, so I measured for you in case you are building something similar.  I hope this helps!  When we had a small townhouse, we used the Pottery Barn Logan as our media center and it was very well built.
Do you like the new dark gray color or prefer the old blue better?

Let's be friends!

Subscribe and enjoy exclusive content delivered directly to your inbox!

* * * * *




  1. August 6, 2013 / 1:03 pm

    Love the gray! It really does make the white accessories stand out more! LOVE your blog!

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:00 pm

      Annette, thank you so much! Thanks for reading:)

  2. August 6, 2013 / 1:22 pm

    I'm usually a blue fan, but I really like how sophisticated the new color looks. Love that adorable tiger print, too.

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:00 pm

      I've been scouring Etsy lately- lots of great finds.

  3. August 6, 2013 / 1:27 pm

    I love the dark gray! Perfect styling!!!

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:01 pm

      Thanks Amy- styling is the fun part, but I'm always rearranging!

  4. August 6, 2013 / 1:33 pm

    Love the dark gray.

  5. August 6, 2013 / 1:50 pm

    Hi Megan,
    It looks awesome!! Gray definitely looks better. It is more on trend now. Blue looked great but the change was needed.
    Kara ( (from Australia)

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:02 pm

      I agree that the grey looks better now- it feels like a neutral that I can work more colors into now.

  6. August 6, 2013 / 1:57 pm

    I LOVE this color. Very subtle, even though it's dark, and so sophisticated. Agree that the white looks great against it. Your styling is perfect!

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:02 pm

      I think it looks more sophisticated too:)

  7. August 6, 2013 / 1:58 pm

    i love the gray! looks great!

  8. August 6, 2013 / 1:59 pm

    Dark gray is the winner! No question!! Aside from looking dramatic against the white cabinetry, it also makes your TV disappear. Great choice!

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:03 pm

      Good point! I hadn't considered that, but it's true!

  9. August 6, 2013 / 2:04 pm

    I love how it turned out. It adds such a richness to the room. The shelves are styled beautifully!

  10. August 6, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    I love your entertainment center! We just had our built ins painted so they went from dark wood to white, and my accessories are popping against the new background. Bookshelf styling, however, is an area I do not feel confident in so I'll be referring to this post for inspiration as I refill the shelves. Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

    -Emily @

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:04 pm

      Thanks Emily! I have pinned so many pics to my Bookshelf Styling board for inspiration too. I like a mix of books, decorative objects and art/photos, but the majority books and in varying heights and positions. Hope this helps! 🙂

  11. August 6, 2013 / 2:57 pm

    I much prefer the dark gray over the blue! Looks really sophisticated. Well done!

  12. August 6, 2013 / 3:26 pm

    I love the grey! Great choice. Also, thanks for all the styling ideas. We bought a media unit almost a year ago and I still haven't styled it, no idea what to do!!!

    • August 6, 2013 / 4:07 pm

      Check out my Bookshelf Styling boards on Pinterest- lots of good ideas there! I start with books first- you can try garage sales or half priced books to get lots of books cheap if you don't already have that many. Baskets or large decorative boxes will also help fill in the shelves, then you can have fun layering in smaller pieces and photos. You can also keep in mind a general color scheme that works best with your room.

  13. August 6, 2013 / 3:59 pm

    I absolutely LOVE how the new color turned out! Beautiful!

  14. August 6, 2013 / 4:47 pm

    Love!!! Gorgeous!! Everything pops! Amazing Job!

  15. August 6, 2013 / 5:36 pm

    I really like the dark gray! The white accents are perfect (we have that little birdy too!). Looks fabulous!

  16. August 6, 2013 / 6:09 pm

    i love the gray! i was a big fan of the blue but the gray is a better neutral for your space.

  17. Courtney {a thoughtful place}
    August 6, 2013 / 2:21 pm

    Girl! I LOVE the urbane bronze in their. It looks really sophisticated and warm. Your styling is perfect, too. I really like all of the white accents.

  18. August 6, 2013 / 7:50 pm

    My house and I need your wonderful decorating eye! 🙂

  19. August 6, 2013 / 8:10 pm

    Hi! Do you remember the Etsy shop where you found the tiger print? It is so cute!

  20. natasha {schue love}
    August 6, 2013 / 3:23 pm

    I la la love the dark gray! What a difference! It instantly updates the built ins! Great move there!

  21. {Hi Sugarplum!}
    August 6, 2013 / 3:47 pm

    love love love the new dark gray!! and your shelf styling is perfection!

  22. Traci
    August 6, 2013 / 4:11 pm

    LOVE the gray!! I'll choose gray & brown over "colors" every time!

  23. August 7, 2013 / 12:29 am

    Ooooh, that gray looks FAB! Great choice!

  24. Allison
    August 6, 2013 / 7:41 pm

    Love the urban bronze Megan! Very classy and sophisticated and your styling is spot on. Those photos of James are precious!

  25. August 7, 2013 / 1:34 am

    I think the grey looks amazing. I loved (& pinned!) the kitchen cabinet you used it in and think it ties in perfectly. I liked the blue quite a lot but this grey looks even better!

  26. August 7, 2013 / 1:42 am

    Love the new Urbane Bronze paint. Like a lot of other bloggers said, a lot more sophisticated for the space, and works better with the aged bronze hardware and makes the white porcelain accessories pop more. Now I am really tempted to paint mine too. 🙂

  27. August 7, 2013 / 1:46 pm

    I love the Urbane Bronze! Its much more cohesive with the rest of your house. It also makes the colors of the books and accessories pop so much more!!

  28. August 7, 2013 / 8:42 pm

    I love the dark grey! Especially with the TV, it just blends in now. And the books and accessories around it pop more. Great change!

  29. August 8, 2013 / 6:55 pm

    I love the grey color!!! Its much more sophisticated and seems to match your other furniture in that room as well !!

  30. August 9, 2013 / 1:11 pm

    Very, very sophisticated! I love the styling and thanks for all the tips.

  31. August 12, 2013 / 2:29 am

    the gray makes the bookshelf and the room look much more sophisticated. I love it!
    where did you acquire the faux boxwood plants. i've been looking around for a couple small ones but haven't had any luck. PB had some recently but way too big for our bookshelf.

    love you blog! 🙂

  32. September 27, 2013 / 2:39 am

    I've kept this post in my mind since it went up in August! My husband and I are fixing up our built-ins and I just linked this on my last post for some inspiration. Loving the cabinet especially the Urbane Bronze on the back panels. Once we makeover our built ins, I may be stealing that color 🙂

  33. October 9, 2013 / 1:00 pm

    I LOVE the dark gray!! You have chosen such perfect paint colors for your beautiful home! Can you please describe Accessible Gray and Anew Gray? Do they lean blue or green throughout the day? Are they warm grays? Gorgeous colors!

  34. October 9, 2013 / 3:30 pm

    I LOVE the grey. It's much more neutral than the blue. Did you have to sand or prime before you painted?

  35. October 10, 2013 / 12:44 am

    Sorry…I just saw where you wrote that you didn't sand or prime before the grey, but did you when you painted it blue? Also, what sheen did you use?

  36. December 15, 2013 / 3:09 pm

    The cabinet looks great in the gray it…Where did you buy your cabinet? The room looks great..nice job….Kat

    • August 10, 2015 / 10:54 pm

      I'm so sorry I'm just seeing your question, the unit was built-in when we bought our house.

  37. February 14, 2014 / 5:20 pm

    I absolutely love the Urban Bronze color you have chosen! It is definitely more dramatic and sophisticated for your beautiful home. I have a similar set up in my family room with bookshelves flanking a chunky fireplace. I have finally narrowed down some color choices for this room and have been endlessly seeking some accessories to style the shelves. I still need more to complete my vision, but after seeing your transformation I can't stop wondering how mine would look painted. My husband is going to love this… 😉

  38. August 3, 2015 / 2:25 pm

    This looks really lovely. I am wondering where you got the entertainment center?

    • August 10, 2015 / 10:53 pm

      Great question, the unit was built-in when we bought our house.

  39. September 22, 2015 / 7:11 am

    I am in love with your media cabinet. I love the new urban bronze color! I am planning to built one similar to it. Could you tell me the dimensions of the shelves and cabinets? Thank you!

  40. November 25, 2015 / 8:53 pm

    love your cabinet and your website!! great great taste….love it all.
    can you please give us the depth of your shelves & the lower cabinet?
    your drawing didn't show that… I am looking to build something very similar..


  41. August 17, 2016 / 4:38 pm

    I love your media cabinet. Did you have it custom made or did you purchase it? If so, who is the manufacturer? Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shop My Instagram