Built-In Bookshelf!

We’re moving into a new apartment! For the first time in almost five years! The last time we moved, I was in law school. Needless to say, we had time for only a very meager attempt at space-making. This time around, we have the luxury of a long move in, so we have the chance to make this space our own!

Project #1

IMG_3285The first time I saw this wall indent, my mind immediately leapt to the many books stored in my parents’ attic and how many of them would fit on 54 feet of built-in shelves (the answer is 419… so far).

With some power tools and a little free advice (thanks to Ray at Home Hardware!) we managed to piece together the rickety built-in bookshelf of my dreams!

I measured my books (no… actually) and figured out what height I wanted each shelf to be for maximum fit. It’s important to take into account the width of the strapping (3/4″ – see below!) and the shelf itself (3/4″!) when calculating the total height. As you can see, the walls are a bit crooked, so every shelf also had to be a different length.

hale-navy-doorI was spending a lot of time on Pinterest and loving the look of Benjamin Moore Hale Navy so I decided to use it as a background for the shelves, kind of as a test run for the main room accent wall. I find it a bit too dark for a large space, but I like the effect in this space.

The first step was to install 1×1 in strapping all the way around, cut wall to wall (when planed, 1×1 in strapping actually turns out to be 3/4 in thick). There’s brick behind that drywall (exposed on the opposite wall!) so we drilled and used anchors that gripped from behind. Careful measuring and pre-drilling holes in the strapping were key in avoiding (too much) crookedness or split strapping. IMG_3319

We then cut down our boards. The space is roughly 6 ft long, but each one needed to be trimmed incrementally more to fit, as the width was 71″ at the bottom. Labeling them with a pencil on the back helped keep everything organized. After cutting, I sanded down the outer-facing edges, gave each board two coats of Minwax Whitewash Pickling Stain and then one coat of polyurethane for a nice finish. As per the aforementioned free advice, I used cheesecloth to apply the stain.

It was a bit difficult to screw in from the bottom (I love building – EVERYTHING sounds inappropriate) so we decided to nail down from the top. The bowing on the strapping meant that some of the shelves don’t fully connect, giving an entirely new and unintended meaning to the concept of “floating shelves”, but we managed to get in enough nails that we’re pretty sure they’re not going anywhere.

Et, voilĂ !

IMG_3330I am absolutely giddy to introduce our new, slightly crooked, built-in bookshelf!

(And check out that sweet writing desk I found on Kijiji for $200..)

The “solarium” is coming together nicely. Stay tuned for more!

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