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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Massive Bookcases=Massive Post

David and I are bibliophiles. I don't read as many books as I used to now that I discovered the joys of the internet and blogs, but I still read fairly voraciously. If I get on a reading kick, reading material becomes scarce quickly. I can't do a thing (except eat bags of M&Ms one M&M at a time) until I've finished reading every book in the vicinity. Usually I get my reading material from the library, but we like to buy our favorites to have on hand for multiple readings (I mean, who doesn't, really?). I also have a lot of my favorites from childhood still around. I'm hoping the kids will start reading them at some point. So far, I've only convinced Xander to read Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.

Our books have been lugged around in boxes from apartment to apartment. We have never owned enough bookcases to have them out properly. For a lot of the time, they've lived under the bed or our in the garage in plastic bins. This is less than ideal. I cannot tell you how many times I've been in the mood for a certain book and not been able to find it.

Anyway, that's the set up for the need for some massive bookcases. When we moved in, we mounted our flatscreen on this wall downstairs, planning to build a huge entertainment center around it.

Also, this is a blank wall (more on that in a minute). It's only tangentially related to the bookcases, but since what we did on it showed up in the photos, I'm showing it to you. I can't believe how much taller Griffin is now, compared to last year. He's the blur slightly to the right.

Well, that TV didn't exactly stay there. David won a TV at work (!!!), so the wall-mounted TV moved up to our bedroom, and the new TV was moved in. Good thing we didn't start building the entertainment center yet, because I'm not sure we would have planned for a TV quite as . . . gargantuan. I feel like I need to install velvet curtains and a popcorn maker to help it feel at home. You'll see what I mean in a minute.

David and I started building the bookcases. David really did most of the work. I helped, but I was mostly grunt labor. I maybe got in the way more than I helped. We built them out of MDF and plywood. We actually got them built with MDF shelves, but they were strong enough and once we put books on them, they started to bow, so it was back to knocking out the shelves and putting in stronger ones. But, luckily, we found out before we painted the second one.

It took a long time. About four hours to build the first one, then about an hour to build the second one, then about three hours to paint the first one, then about three hours to fix our shelf mistake, then about four more hours of painting. You get the picture.

We also ran into a problem of an electrical outlet. The shelves are 12" deep, but would have covered one electrical outlet about half way. Not good. So, we knocked a hole in the wall and moved it over. Not exactly a small job. At this point, I was deeply worried we were getting into a Give a Mouse a Cookie situation. The type where you end up with pink walls and a new tile floor with radiant heat and you wonder how you got there. We managed to stop though. After a little bit.

However, while we were patching that, we figured we might as well patch the other holes that happened to be in the room. It turned out to be quite a lot, actually.

1. The hole for the electrical outlet.
2. The hole we knocked in the other side of the wall while moving the electrical outlet
3. A hole cut at the top of the wall that was there when we moved in--for some work that was done--who knows what
4. A slight dent we made while moving in while getting the couch down the stairs
5. Someone got over-zealous when putting in an electrical outlet and cut the whole too big (not the one in the above pictures, someone who I don't know who did this before we moved in)
6. Our children put a slight dent in the wall (this is not surprising. It's actually surprising that of the six patches, only one was caused by our offspring).

That was a lot of patching to do. Really, the rest of our house does not resemble Swiss cheese. It was odd to look around and see just how many spots needed to be patched.

Then, we were able to put the bookcases into place. We realized that we had not built them quite high enough to have the gap between the wall and the ceiling be able to be bridged by the crown molding we plan to put up. So, we had to figure out a solution to that problem. But, otherwise! YAY! And other words which I will not say on this blog, because they involve curse words of joy.

That picture makes me laugh though, because the large TV just throws the scale all off. Those bookcases are over three feet wide. The TV is sitting on an old computer desk. That's a nightstand underneath the computer desk. Yet, I still feel like my eyes are telling me that's a small wall. It gets bigger once you put books on it.

We eventually settled on a trim. Here's a close up. It will be covered a lot by the crown molding, but we planned on that. It will give us something to attach the molding to.

Through the magic of the internet, you get to skip the six or seven hours I spent categorizing, organizing and cataloging books! I made a spread sheet with every single book we owned! Then I sorted them by genre, making very tall stacks! Tripping hazards for more than two days! I didn't actually put them up on the shelves in alphabetical order though. Even I have my limits.

The only thing is, we are missing a box of books. I'm almost certain it is not in our house. We looked pretty thoroughly at my parents' house (our last residence). It's a box that was probably books that we hanging out in our master bedroom. It had my Anne of Green Gables series in it, a few books from my childhood I was trying to convince the boys to read, a Chelsea Handler book (verdict still out on whether or not I liked that one), one of the Borne Identity books in it. Probably quite a few more that my brain has filed away somewhere. I hope that box didn't get donated. I WANT THAT BOX. I'm mostly concerned about my Anne of Green Gables series. My aunt LuAnn gave the series to me when I was nine or ten and I opened it on Christmas Eve and read about most of the first book that night. It will be sad if I can't find that series--it has sentimental value.

Anyway, here are the finished bookcases in all their glory.

A close up of some of the decorated shelves. These will probably evolve some more.

That blank wall I showed you earlier? We actually did this project months ago, but we put up a map and framed it with trim. It's an idea floating around blogland that I saw and loved. When we first talked about buying a house, we ordered this map. It was the first thing we bought specifically for our first house. Cue cute awwing noises. (We might have hung it a little high, but. . . with all the staples and nails in that thing--it's staying.)

And here are some more views of the room. Because I always want more views of the room when people do huge projects like this. These views make the room look huge--wide angle lenses do that. It's pretty big, but probably not as big as it looks here.

And one of my couch cushions looks oddly purple. The color balance on these photos was giving me fits. Oh, and we are not planning on leaving the desk and the night stand as our TV's home. We are planning on building a media cabinet to go between the two bookcases and a bridge along the top. But, it works for now. And I have an awesome photo arrangement planned for under that airplane. One thing at a time. . .

And that concludes this massive post about massive bookcases that I alluded to in this post.
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  1. They look great, Kara! Love the built-in look.

  2. This turned out fantastic! We built a built in bookcase in our old house! Years ago! It was quite a project.


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