Build in Shelving
I love storage and organization. I like to have my closets organized and used to their highest potential. I also like to display meaningful items in a special way. I don’t like to have a lot of needless clutter but I do have a few items that to someone else wouldn’t mean much but to me hold a special place in my heart.
When we had our semi custom home built 4 years ago we had the option of having a space be an office or leaving it open to the family living area. Since Monte works from home when he’s not traveling we knew it needed to be an office. When you purchase a semi custom home there are changes you can make to the home, that’s where the semi part of the custom comes into play but you’re also limited on what you can do. There wasn’t a model home of our floor plan to look at but we were able to walk through some homes under construction. Of course there wasn’t one exactly like we were having built. We got a really good feel for what to expect but there are always surprises. For some reason they don’t give you blueprints of the home you’ve purchased just a print out of the floor plan but not a lot of detail.
Since we were doing a home office they closed in the wall that would have been open to the family living space. I was pleasantly surprised to see they weren’t doing a straight wall from the office side but there was an indented space on part of the wall. I had a fleeting thought of that’s a little weird, why would they do that. Then the wheels in my head started turning and I quickly thought of the possibilities. A customized built in shelving unit to place special items and display books.
It was one of the first projects we worked on because I had several boxes stacked in the office waiting to be unpacked once the shelves were built. I had a bit of a vision but knew I couldn’t sketch it out or draw up an exact plan. We were going to have to start building and see where it went. I knew I didn’t want long boring horizontal shelves but something a little more interesting.
Our originally plan was to start framing on the driveway and then move it into place once it was part way built. That is how we started but after struggling to keep it straight and then trying to move it we realized we just needed to build it in place for a couple reasons. It is super hard to keep the shelves from breaking apart and second , the main reason, the walls were not square so no matter how careful we were with measuring and cutting it just wasn’t fitting right. We thought building on the drive way would help keep the dirt and sawdust off of our new flooring. When you can’t move into your house until it is 100% completed and you aren’t able to work on projects until you move in you end up doing things a little out of order. Ideally adding all the fun accent and custom pieces would be done before flooring and trim.
As we built the shelves we worked our way from the bottom up. I knew I wanted a variety of shelve sizes. Spaces for books and places for decor. We designed in sections with either longer vertical pieces or longer horizontal pieces then filled it in. It was one of those projects that I just did what looked pleasing to my eye at the time and also having an idea of what I wanted to display . This is what we ended up with. I was a little nervous because it looked like a tetris game at this stage. As you can see from this picture we didn’t remove the baseboards but just built around them. I was planning on painting the shelving unit the same color as the baseboards so it was worth just leaving them in place. The sides pieces of the build in are the same width as the baseboard so we stacked it on the baseboard. On the bottom back where the baseboard runs we notched out the 3 vertical pieces that were affected. There is also an electric plug in that we just built around making sure the wood didn’t cover the outlet.
The next step is caulking. Monte is a master ‘caulker’. Caulking is an important step to making wood projects look custom and complete. It takes a little time and can be a bit rough on your fingers as you continue to wipe the seams and smooth them out but it is key to making your project look amazing. This is also the time to fill in any exposed nail holes. After all the seams and nail holes are caulked Monte hands me the torch and I started painting. I love this short handle paint brush for tight spaces. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to fix something I just painted because my paintbrush handle scrapped against the opposite side, very frustrating. I also love these mini rollers. They get in the edges pretty good, so you may not even need to use the brush on the last coat. There are disposable foam rollers that work really well. I’ve used both and like both rollers. This one is intended to wash and reuse, the foam ones don’t usually last for more then one project. I like to use a semi gloss paint for shelving. It gives it a subtle shine, holds up really well to chips and scrapes plus is easy to keep clean with a damp cloth. For me the biggest key to painting wooden shelves is fine grit sand paper. To get that beautiful smooth finish you MUST do a light sanding between each coat of paint. It only takes a few minutes but the results are amazing. I use the dry time instructions on the paint can as a suggestion, if I’m trying to get it done I never wait the instructed amount of time. When the paint feels good and dry I take my sanding block and go over each shelve softly. It takes just a light touch to knock off the wood “chips” that have raised during painting. Once you’ve sanded lightly, wiped the dust off with a damp cloth you can add the next coat of paint. I ended up doing 3 coats on these shelves. We used raw wood that wasn’t primed so it took a little extra painting. The third being a light coat then followed it up with a quick sanding.
I am so happy with the way they look after they were painted. It still looked a bit like a tetris game but more on purpose. I choose to only paint the shelves white and not the back wall. I left it the same color as the other walls in the office. I have even considered painting it a dark color to make it stand out but chose not to. There’s no right or wrong to painting the back wall white, leaving it the same color as the other walls or painting it a bold color just make a decision and love it. Who knows one day I may decide to change it. It would definitely be easier to paint the wall before you add the shelving unit but could be done at a later date if you decide.
This is the end result a place to display some of my favorite pieces. I have wedding pictures of our 3 married sons and their beautiful wives. I also have photos of my grandparents on they’re wedding day and pictures of my great grandparents. Family pictures from when Monte and I were children, a Royal Doulton doll that I was given from my grandmothers collection. Cute gifts from loved ones that I love to see and be reminded of them and their thoughtfulness. Some of our favorite books.
I love the way it turned out. Having this shelving unit in our office keeps it a little private from all visitors but still out in the open enough to enjoy. It brings me a lot of joy and fills me with wonderful memories. Exactly what I was hoping for.
This project cost us approximately $200 for the wood and paint. A great value for what we ended up with and I have a lot of paint left over for other projects.