What’s more important than bookshelves?

Phew. As I write this, my hands are aching from operating heavy machinery all weekend. Just kidding, it was a power driver and a paintbrush, but still. This weekend’s project was perhaps one of the biggest ones I’ll personally tackle in this whole house. When I walked into the room that is to be my office, the first thought in my mind was, how many bookshelves can I put in here? I have a lot of books – I mean a real lot of books. Not Beauty and the Beast Library a lot of books, but enough that if I was trapped in my house for three years, I definitely wouldn’t run out of reading materials. And it’s not like I’m ever going to stop buying books. Amazon Marketplace kind of guarantees that I always have $1 to spend on a worn paperback. But I digress.

The back wall of my office was perfect for built-in bookshelves, and I got it in my head to achieve that dream. Not that I’ve ever built bookshelves before (or much of anything), but I was still determined to do it. I mean, look how boring my office was:


A blank canvas for shelves! This window is great, it looks out over the wrap around porch, and if you peer through the leaves you can see the lake; I’m sure the winter time will give a much better view. Also, we are 99% sure that the windows here in my office and the ones in our bedroom are original. They operate with a string and pulley system, and they actually still work, with a bit of effort to get them open.

So to start, I wanted to paint my whole office. We’re doing all cold neutrals in the house (we did warm in the last, and I ended up hating it), and if you follow us on Instagram, you’ve already seen a sneak preview of the scheme (follow us @eighteenninetyfarmhouse). I wanted my office the darkest color of the scheme, Berh’s Anonymous, because I love love love how dark gray paint looks with white trim.


Some edges prepping first, before rolling on the full color.


IMG_2830These pictures really don’t do this color justice at all, but I haven’t installed the light fixture yet, so you’ll have to use your imagination a bit. Once the room was painted and dried, it was time to start cutting wood. I rent a saw from Home Depot, and I was lucky enough to have my two helpers do the cuts while I measured and assembled. Please excuse our makeshift construction area, we still don’t have all our things from Maine!


In assembling the bookshelves, I had to get creative. I followed this blog for basic bookshelf plans, but my office has a heater along the left side, and I needed to make it so that the shelving didn’t cover it, or inhibit the heat flow. So I built some extenders for both sides of the room, to bring the shelving in and keep it symmetrical.


Once the extenders were on, it was time to build the main structure. I built boxes for the bottoms and tops of each case, then mounted it to the wall, and to the extender. Then I added the other side of the case, and ta-da, the bookcase was built, sans shelving. Also, this may seem to be a quick task, but it took Cat and I two full days to complete this whole project, including painting and numerous trips to Home Depot. But the time was worth it, because by Sunday around noon, I was ready for shelving:


The shelving was fairly simply, just 2×1’s cut to size, and screwed into the wall and the sides, and then topped with a 2×12’s. If you’re curious about the materials, I used 2×6’s to build the boxes on top and bottom, and 2×12’s to build the sides. Here we have the shelving completed:


Once everything was secured, it was time to paint! The trim that I’d taken off the walls had been a dark stained wood, so I brought that outside to paint white, for that excellent contrast between the dark walls and the light trim. This picture also shows how beautiful and HOT the weekend was, and how dark and also HOT my office was.


While the trim was drying, I took to painting the shelves. I wanted them pure white to match the trim and give that same contrast. I painted two coats to cover most of the knots in the wood, but I didn’t sand anything, nor did I add wood putty to any cracks or seams. Cat said that I didn’t do that on purpose, and sure I was exhausted and really didn’t want to get super fancy with it, but it also had another purpose. With the cracks and seams and the roughness of the wood, it lends to the farmhouse style, and makes it look like the shelves have been there for a long time. Regardless, I love how they came out.




I’ll upload more pictures once they’re decorated and I have actual lighting in my office, but for now, I am super happy with this achievement! Now I have room for my books, but as Cat pointed out, is it enough room? (Probably not, good thing there will be bookshelves all over the house soon ;)).

Thanks for reading!
* Update! *
We brought all my books home and I finally got to decorate my shelves and fill them with my favorite things (lots and lots of books!)

All the books from storage are seen below. If you’re ever moving, the best moving tip I’ve ever heard is to pack your books on suitcases. Since books are so heavy all together, the wheels make everything so much easier.

Once all the books were alphabetized, I decorated and filled! So happy to have everything in place ๐Ÿ˜Š


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