I have a room in our home that I haven’t shared much on the blog. It serves as our guest room, library, and Matt’s office all in one. I’ve never been happy with this room, so I’ve just chosen to close the door and ignore it. This summer, I have been on a mission to tackle the things in my home that I dislike and this room was at the top of the list! We sold the trundle bed, added our former master bedroom queen bed, and sold all of the bookshelves. I really wanted a cleaner look for all of the thousands of books we have spilling all over the place. Matt is an intellectual, has his PhD in Religious Studies, is a teacher, and is completely addicted to books. We desperately needed a better system. Creating an Ikea built-in Billy bookshelf is something I have wanted to do in this room for years. As much as I would love to have cute shelves showing off fun coordinating tchotchkes, these bookshelves will contain 100% books! So let the fun begin!
The first thing we did was measure the wall to determine how many Billy bookcases we needed to fill the wall. I knew I wanted the bookshelves to run all the way up to the ceiling, so we purchased the extender kits for each shelf. I also knew that I didn’t want to cover up my brick wall, so we chose to put the bookshelves together without the flimsy cardboard backs. Those things seem like way more trouble than they are worth! They are so thin and basically made of paper. Not using them was a blessing.
Next, we removed our baseboard and determined what kind of board we needed to place underneath all of the bookshelves to prop them up so that the baseboard would fit in front of the shelves. We used a 2x10x12. Our floors are uneven so we used cardboard as a temporary prop, but those were replaced later on with wood shims.
Next, we separated the shelves evenly and secured them together using wood shims and wood screws.
Anytime you DIY—and I literally mean nearly EVERY time—you run into some type of glitch. It is simply to be expected and embraced. Glitches come with the territory of taking on a new project, typically for the first time ever. In building these shelves, we ran into a myriad of glitches!
Glitch #1: I wanted a built-in look of course, and I wanted them safely and securely attached to the wall. Drilling into our brick is a nightmare, and something I definitely wanted to avoid. The brick is over 100 years old so it is brittle and we haven’t had good luck with fastening anything to it securely. We chose to attach two blocks of wood to the studs in the wall on the right and left-hand side. Then we ran two 2x4x12 boards across the entire span of the bookshelves and secured them with wood screws through the top of the bookshelves. We attached the 2x4x12 boards to the blocks of wood on the wall using L-brackets. Things were moving fast, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of any of this :(. Matt’s not really used to working with me on projects and forgets that we need to take pictures!
Glitch #2: We have a heat vent underneath the bookshelves. We had to cut a portion of the wood underneath the bookshelves to expose as much of the vent as possible. Next, we drilled holes in the floor of the center bookshelf and we will eventually cut this piece out and place a decorative grill here. I’m not sure what I’ll place in this nook since books will block our heating and cooling. I’ll worry about it later.
Glitch #3: We had a full foot of space above the bookshelves and needed a ton of moulding to cover up the space. I wanted it to be decorative and pretty and Matt just wanted it to be done. LOL! We had a few “please can you just jump into my brain and understand what I’m saying here” moments in the middle of Lowes. After a lot of discussion, we were finally on the same page as to how to fill that 12″ gap. Crown molding wouldn’t work for us because we didn’t have enough wall space for the crown to sit. Pushing back all of the molding on the top of the bookshelf would have looked weird. So we wound up using four separate pieces of molding and layering them to create a built-in look.
To cover the seams between the bookshelves we used 2″ moulding cut to size and glued on with Loctite.
Glitch #4: We had weird gaps at the top of our bookshelves between the moulding and the shelves because the bookshelves are not completely flush across the fronts. We glued in square dowel rods into the gaps.
Glitch #5: Our door was a hinged in the other direction. We had to remove the moulding and the door to fit the bookshelves and also needed to flip the hinges so that the door would close properly.
Some magic needed to take place here so that the door would close. Matt shaved off some of the moulding with a rip-cut so that is wouldn’t get in the way of the door. This glitch was probably the most challenging for us to solve!
Phew! That was a lot of problem-solving for amateur DIY’ers like us to solve. But we did it. Here is where we are at today.
All of the hard part is over and now I just need to caulk, prime, and paint the moulding.