Tuesday, May 24, 2011

{We Built Bookshelves!}

**Edited to add questions and answers at the bottom!**

I'm sure I've written to you folks about the inconveniences of my home.  One of them is storage (but doesn't everyone complain about not enough storage?) but the layout of the house is kind of annoying too.  The square footage just isn't used very wisely.  A prime example is our hallway; at 5 feet wide by 20 feet long, it's almost wide enough to be a room, but not quite.  I've dreamt of bookcases in this hall for EVER, but we all know how expensive good bookcases are.  I really liked these one here, but yeah... $400 each? So not gonna happen.  Plus we have some pretty super high ceilings in this old house, like 10 feet throughout and I wanted to be able to take advantage of the height here.

A plan was born.... we're gonna BUILD them. By Ourselves.  Armed with this tutorial from Popular Mechanics, I drafted up some to scale drawing to plan the heights of each shelf, how much moulding, etc.  I wanted them to work well for this house, but then when we buy a house in oh, 4 or 5 years, I want to be able to use them in that house too.

The Plan: 3 separate bookshelves, each 2 1/2 feet wide by 7 feet tall, then base moulding and crown moulding to tie them together. All anchored to the wall, and to each other in the back.

There was cutting outside, and then building inside:

We used whitewood for all the structural parts and then inexpensive wood paneling for the backs, but turned backwards so the raw wood was showing.

It took us about a day and a half of work, but here they are finally standing up, just missing their shelf moulding:

Once I saw them here like this, I decided I liked the raw wood look for a while.  I was thinking first I'd paint them white, like my inspiration bookcases, but then I was thinking that since we bought real wood for all of it, not mdf or ply, that it would be sad to paint.  I began to think about staining.  In the end I think I've decided I like how they are now in this house, and when we move somewhere more permanent, I'll decide then what colour they should be.

After dinner yesterday I started to pull books from everywhere: the shed, under the bed, in plastic storage bins in the office, from under our nightstands, and from the older not as nice bookshelf in the living room.... holy macrel.  I don't think I believed we'd FILL the cases just yet!

But there ya go.  They're pretty much full.  I had no idea!  Now we have about half a dozen free plastic totes for organizing the shed today!  Maybe I'll be brave enough to take pictures of that too. LOL We'll see!

You've never seen two people more proud of themselves this morning than Mr. Pie and I.  I think this is the beginning of a lot more furniture being built around this house.

Edited to Add:

I've had a few questions so I thought I'd put them here at the bottom, okie?

How much did lumber cost?  We spend about $250 on the 1"x10" lumber, plus the trims, for all three bookcases, then the backing for all three was about $50, so a total of $300 for all materials.

How much lumber did we use?  It was 10 -  1"x10"x10' and 3 - 1"x10"x8', then 10 feet of base moulding, 10 feet of top moulding, and I think 6 - 8' sections of 3/4" shelf trim, and 6 - 1/4" x 1 1/2" x 8' side mouldings.  The other part we added was some 1x1's to hold give the shelves some support, so I think we bought 6 - 8' sections of that those too.

Was this hard?  It was labour intensive for sure.  We're lucky that Mr. Pie had most of the tools we needed like the electric saws and whatnot.  We did decide to invest in an electric nail gun since we know that this won't be the last of the furniture we build, but it totally crapped out on us half way through.  We hoofed it old-skool with a hammer and nails the rest of the way. That sucked.

How much time did it take?  not counting the whole day sucked from our life in the lumber store,  it was about 8 hours one day, and about 4 hours the next day, so about 12 hours total with both of us working.  Mostly I did the measuring and the holding, and Mr. Pie did the operating of spinny blade tools.  It's probably best that way. hehe

Thanks for the questions!

Linked to: http://www.bystephanielynn.com

and http://www.flamingotoes.com/


  1. I love the shelves! They look awesome in the hallway, reat way to use up that space. And you have about as much books as we do!


  2. Yay for new bookcases. I think you are right, there are never enough.

    I have a space in the basement that I plan to put shelves someday.

  3. Abso-freaki'-lutely AMAZING!!! Wanna come build some at my house? ;-)

  4. If you want to see the wood (I like it too!) You can still help out a very dilute water paint for a nice effect shabby!
    Wonderful Congratulations!

  5. Hi Sarah, Your book shelves look incredible - fantastic job! Books make the best accessories too. Thanks so much for linking to the Sunday Showcase - I greatly appreciate it. I have featured this on Sunday - I am a little behind getting to the comments though. Have a wonderful week ~ Stephanie Lynn

  6. Those look great! I love that you used the paneling for the back of the shelves--clever!!