Before we get too far into this post, let me be clear about the bookshelves. They are very basic. The only thing more basic might be boards and cinder blocks and I’ve had a few of those in my lifetime. Nevertheless, basic or not, I love them.
I’ve wanted built-in bookshelves in the den since we moved in. I had visions of beautifully constructed built-ins along the wall behind the sofa. But because other needs/expenses almost always seem to take precedence, we’ve never been able to do it. We’ve lived here nine years. Last year, I saw a post on another blog where the thirty-something owners had put up bookshelves using standards and brackets. I was immediately taken back in my memory to a house I lived in in my mid-twenties. I remember doing that very thing, on a more modest level, in my bedroom. It seemed a bit retro – sort of mid-century modern, a style I grew up with – it was just called contemporary in those days – and not necessarily a look that I wanted to recreate in my current home.
But I kept going back to that photo and eventually came to the conclusion that it would look entirely appropriate in this den of ours.
Why not? Why not, I said to myself, do something like this NOW, rather than wait for some date in the far-off future when I might have the funds to hire a carpenter to build a fancy bookcase? I showed the blog photos to Don, and he said, “Go for it.”
Even so, I didn’t get around to it until this year. When I decided that now was indeed the time, I measured the wall space and the length of the sofa, checked for the location of the studs using my stud finder, which can be finicky, so I checked it over and over again, devised one configuration, then scrapped it and went for another. I drew up a plan.
Then I figured out the length of the shelves, based on the footprint of the sofa and the location of the studs. Left side of the sofa: 37″. Right side of the sofa: 24″ Three standards on the left. Two standards on the right. Six shelves on either side. A total of 30 brackets. Last week we went to Lowe’s and purchased everything – the pine was special grade because I was planning on staining it and didn’t want a lot of knots. One very nice guy at Lowe’s figured out how much wood we would need and another very nice guy cut all the wood for us. I crossed my fingers and hoped all my calculations were correct.
We brought everything home and earlier this week, taking advantage of a very warm day for this time of year, I sanded and stained all the shelves-to-be.
Yesterday we put them up.
After sleeping through most of it, Scout decided to check out the action in the den.
That drill has to be about 25 years old. I bought it when I was living in Cambridge, MA. Someday I’ll upgrade to a fancy new one, but for now, it works.
I originally considered painting the wood, but I’m glad I decided to stain it instead. We have lovely pine floors and wood blinds and I felt that staining the wood would result in a warmer, cozier look. We really like it.
Late in the day: shelves in place, drill, chuck, wood, measuring tape, screws, screwdriver, and level scattered around the room.
Photo taken this morning, so it’s still darkish in this room. I’ve added a few books, but I’m going to let the shelves evolve. I’m not going to grab a lot of books from the upstairs bookshelves and move them down here. Both of us added a few favorite books, some signed by the authors, some vintage. My To Be Read pile moved from the desk to the shelves. I’ll eventually add some books from the shed (fingers crossed.) And let’s face it, I accumulate a lot of books, so these babies could be filled in no time.
I forgot how fiddly brackets can be. They don’t always fit snugly, they sometimes move to the right or the left. And I’ve learned, especially on these shorter shelves, that things need to be balanced, not necessarily visually, but most definitely in terms of weight distribution.
This room is very small, with windows on all sides, so it’s notoriously hard to get a good photo. But here’s my best shot this morning.
We never think that something like this will make the room look bigger, but, as is often the case, it does. And Don loves the way the shelves on the left and the window frame one of our favorite pieces of art. Me. too.
I’ll post more photos as I add to the shelves and one day I’ll take you on a little tour.
Total cost for everything was about $300.00. We used a prime grade of pine, bought stain and a paintbrush, screws, standards and brackets.
Oh, and one of the first things I added to the shelves?
The wooden egg cup Scout and Don gave me for my birthday. Isn’t he adorable?