I have a crush on books. I’ve accumulated hundreds (at garage sales) because I love the idea of someday feeling like I live in a library. And I feel like owning lots of books is permission to buy shelving, or, in this case, make shelving. I love shelving. More to come on that someday.
Sometimes there’s a space in your house just begging for built-in shelves. In my case, I had a naturally (or, really un-naturally) inset area in the dining room that the previous owners had stuck some shelving in. Here’s the space the day I moved in; I’m surprised I stepped back from ripping them down long enough to snap this shot.
Once the shelves were down, I left it empty for quite some time, nearly a year, actually, just to make sure I really knew what I wanted to do. It was painted over twice in that time period, and I was finally happy with the final Venetian Gold color and decided to take next steps to do built-ins. Myself.
The inset area is conveniently 12″ deep, so the shelving boards I purchased were 11″W. I selected an MDF board over hardwoods because it was less expensive, and felt stronger than some of the hardwoods I explored. Don’t criticize me if it was the wrong decision, I’ve never claimed to be a professional at all of this stuff so live and learn.
I collected the tools and spent 6-hours putting this together:
- Circular saw
- Tape measure
- Primer, White Paint (Behr), roller and paint brush
- Nails (or screws, can’t remember)
- Lightweight wood filler + sand paper
My decided method for assembly was quite simple. Stacking from the ground up. Track with this:
- I carefully removed the baseboard trim. Saved it to be reinstalled upon completion.
- I cut all of the MDF boards to length; (2) 36″ boards which would stand directly on the ground, (8) 16″ boards to act as the wall-facing spacers and main support for the shelves, and (5) shelves.
- Primed (twice, because that MDF was thirsty) and painted (twice). It was warm that day and Cody thought he’d help by napping in the shade of the sawhorses.
- Installed the boards one by one; each of the “frame” boards that run against the wall are nailed into the wall, so it is very solid. Note that it goes all the way up to the ceiling; it was measured and planned in such a way that the last 1″ space at the top would fit a shelf board to tie together the “real built-in” feeling I was going for.
- Picked out some 3″W trim boards to face the top and side edges of the shelves. Before the trim, you could see the way the boards were layered together, which didn’t lend itself to a nice finish.
- Filled nail holes with my favorite lightweight patch, sanded, and did some touch-up painting.
- Caulked along every single seam to fill in any visible gaps between boards.
- Reinstalled baseboard (which had to be carefully trimmed to back in perfectly)
- Loaded in my goods!
And a closer-up shot so you can see a little more detail:
Now, this is titled Part 1 of 2. The problem with these shelves? There’s no hiding it, they’re starting to sag a little in the middle under the natural weight of… stuff. But I’ve finally figured out my solution, which I’ll fill you in on as soon as I finish it (and am satisfied) – I think it’ll be a good fix for sagging shelves of all kinds, DIY, built-in, or manufactured.