RevolvingDork and I have completed our first DIY home improvement project together: built in bookcases for our living room. It was only a little nerve wracking to coordinate on a project where neither of us really knew what we were doing.
We used Billy Bookcases, closely following the example from Centsational Girl’s blog. After trying a few different combinations we went with four full-width and one half-width bookcase. In between each bookcase is a strip of 1 11/16th inch moulding. We were able to pull up and reuse the floor moulding from the back wall (though as you can see in the photo above we need to get new quarter-round shoe moulding).
Our base moulding is pretty tall, and because we planned to install doors we needed to make sure the bottom edge of the lowest shelf was above the moulding. All together we needed to raise the bookshelves by 2 and a half inches. We built a frame out of two by fours, and nailed little wooden “feet” to the bottom to get things to the right height.
Like most houses, our walls and floor are not perfectly square so we had to fudge things a little bit to get them to line up. We used some scraps of the flat moulding as shims to convince the bookshelves to line up correctly. Conveniently, the crown moulding at the top hides any uneven edges between the bookcases. Once everything was in place we painted all the moulding to match the trim.
I’ve seen a lot of Billy build-ins, but none with doors. The doors weren’t quite as much of a problem as we’d expected; you can get away with up to 1/4″ thick moulding before you have to re-drill and reposition the mounting holes for the door hinges.
The bookcases themselves came in at $500 (more than half of which was the doors), and we spent about another $150 on wood, moulding, nails, etc. Despite being very crafty / hackery, neither of us is very handy so don’t have much in the way of spare lumber or hardware lying around. Thankfully we were able to borrow a compound miter saw from RD’s dad. We started the project on Wednesday and finished it Saturday morning, though it took longer than it needed to because we don’t have a car to easily get large things from the hardware store.
It may not be the most technically perfect bookshelf in the world (don’t look too closely at the mitered base moulding…) but we’re pretty proud of our first home improvement project. As a bonus, the living room is finally a livable space instead of a box maze.