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DIY: A Built-in Bookshelf


I was going to write about our awesome new bookshelf that Landon built (and I painted!) earlier this week, but Snowpocalypse 2014 came along instead. The snow and ice are still hanging around Charleston, but we're doing a lot better than we were 24 hours ago. So, now that all is better with the world again, let's talk about my new bookshelf!

When Landon and I purchased the townhouse three years ago, the upstairs hallway looked really weird. The fireplace flue comes up through the middle of our house and takes up a part of the upstairs hallway (which isn't that unusual in itself).

What is odd is the fact that there were these two oddly empty spots on each side of the flue area. Instead of putting in a closet, a bookshelf, a cabinet, a bench or just about anything, the builders put up a half wall and called it a day. You walk up the stairs, turn a sharp corner to go to the bedrooms, and there's just this sheetrock box along the left side of the hallway.

I always thought the arrangement screamed for some additions, so Landon and his dad walled in one side when I was in London for a school trip, and turned that area into a closet. Now, we've got somewhere for all of my craft stuff!

Now that the closet was in, the other side of the hallway looked even more awkward. It took us forever to get back to this project (due to Britton's arrival!), but we made it a priority in our 2014 house goals.

Here's what we did:

First, we took up the carpet and padding. That way, if (heaven forbid) we ever have a flood again, we won't have to destroy the bookshelf in order to replace the carpet (which is what happened to my beautiful book nook. RIP book nook).

Next, Landon (and his dad) put up the backing boards.

The next section went very slowly, as Landon had to custom fit every one of the shelves after he cut it. Our house has some funky angles so he couldn't just make a 90 degree cut and call it a day.
DIY built in bookshelf

We wanted a storage cabinet at the top of our shelves (because this house has zero storage, we're always looking for ways to add some in), so Landon framed that out next.

Then, we sanded it until the wood was super smooth. Britton wanted to test out the new shelves to make sure they were up to code.
Don't call DSS yet. Landon was ready to catch Britton if she decided to take a nose dive. Also, can we talk about how my baby isn't scared of ANYTHING?!?!
After the shelves were through being prepped, I prepared the area for painting and went to town. We wanted a white finish with little wood grain showing through, so we opted for one coat of primer and two coats of white paint. Those nooks and crannies were so hard to get!

Landon and I both decided that, if we need to build a shelf in the future, we'll prime and paint one coat prior to installation. Painting the bottoms of the shelves after they were in place wasn't the easiest. But you live and learn, right?

how to build a bookshelf

Since the cabinets are a funky shape, Landon had to make them. They were really easy: one piece of bead board (that he cut down into two smaller pieces), one piece of Luan, and cut-up pieces of 1x2 pine boards. He assembled them, and then we painted them. One coat of primer and two coats of paint, and we were ready to hang them!

I'm so in love with the bookshelf: it's so nice to have somewhere to put those books--they've been living in bins in the hallway for months now.

The project took two days of two people working to cut, frame, and sand the wood. Then, it took another six to eight hours to paint it (including allowing for dry time between the coats). It definitely could be a long weekend project, but you'd be tired at the end of it!

The cost was mostly in wood, and came out to around $150. We already had the primer and paint left over from another project, so if you had to purchase those elements, the project would come to around $200. Not bad for a custom built piece!