Saturday, March 2, 2013

Built-in Bookshelves IKEA Hack

First of all, let me just say this post is extremely belated. This project started in November!! Though sadly, I literally JUST I just a procrastinator? Maybe we can all agree to be kind and just say that I was taking my time so it would be just right....

So I've had this crazy idea to add built-in bookshelves to the living room for a while now, so when my dad came up from SC to visit me a while back, I asked him if he would help me build these shelves. Thank goodness for handy dads!

The bulk of the work took about a day, and it was mostly not difficult. However, what Dad and I didn't finish together was left to me to finish, and even though I've chipped away at it here and there, it's taken me longer than it probably should have to completely finish.

First, I measured the width of the room to be sure how many sets of shelves I would need. The living room is about 11' wide, and four sets of Billy bookshelves left about a foot of extra room. I wasn't really sure how to deal with this, but my dad suggested we make those narrow shelves in the middle to span the distance (he's so smart!).

Since we don't have an IKEA here in Nashville, Dad was nice enough to bring them from Charlotte (my parents live in that area, but on the South Carolina side of the border). We assembled the shelves and clamped two at a time together to be sure everything was flush. Since my house is on the older side, my floors aren't completely flat, so we slid wood shims (those little wood wedges you find at the hardware store for keeping furniture, dishwashers, etc from wobbling) under the fronts to get the shelves flush with the wall, and then bolted them to the wall, making sure to go through a stud. Wouldn't want them tipping over on anyone!

Next, we picked up some 1x2's, 1x4's and some molding at the hardware store to build a face frame for the shelves. This is what actually makes the shelves look built in and not like they came out of a box. The molding at the top went up first, followed by the side pieces and the two middle pieces where the IKEA shelves actually meet (the vertical pieces surrounding the narrow shelves came later).

Oh, and I learned that since my home is old-ish, my walls aren't necessarily square. To circumvent this problem and get those 1x4's flush with the wall, Dad showed me how to scribe. I'm not very good at it (yet), but the basic idea is that you use a compass (like you used in geometry class) to trace the shape of the wall onto your 1x4 and then cut off the excess material so your board will fit to the wall. It was really hard to do, and Dad had to re-do the side I did because I messed up the bottom where it had to fit to the existing molding. Oh, and yes, I did get paint on the existing baseboards, but I am going to paint them soon-ish anyway!

I did the narrow shelves by myself. Those are just pieces of melamine cut to the width of the narrow space and held in place with pieces of 1x2 rails nailed underneath.

Next, I drilled the two wiring holes through the shelves (you can see it peeking out from behind the owl vase) and painted the backs of the shelves. The color is Starless Night by Behr and I love how the super dark navy blue lets the items on the shelves really pop.

Next up was the last two pieces of the face frame, then caulking to fill nail holes and gaps, then painting the frame itself.

Not too shabby eh? Oh, and the whole project was under $300.....real built-ins, while more authentic, would have run me several hundred dollars more....yikes!

Anyone else been doing construction in their living room? Or anywhere else in their house?

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