This past weekend our home has seen some major transformation. For one, it is no longer a construction zone filled with drywall dust and power tools. More importantly, it became home again – clean, calm, and comfortable. All thanks to the fact that all of our books are made onto the shelves.
To remind you of where we started, this was the same wall:
Since we started the office renovation two weeks ago, our main goal was to get the books off the floor ASAP. Before it could ever happen, we had a lengthy to-do list:
1. Reverse the closet
2. Create a new opening on the living room side
3. Frame the old office doorway
4. Drywall the closet and over the old doorway
5. Assemble the bookshelves and build a 2×4 platform to boost them up
6. Bring the wall switch and outlets out 1″ so we can still access them with the bookshelves
7. Secure the bookshelves onto the wall and to each other
Last time I left you with the office, the closet was reversed, all the openings on this wall were covered, the wooden base was built, and Billies were assembled.
1. The Electrical Work
The bookcases were not secured yet, because we needed to do some electrical work first. The wall switch that controls the ceiling light is right between the two drywall patches. And we needed to reveal it through the bookcases.
This wall switch lands behind one of the bookcases. While cutting an opening on the back of the bookcase is not difficult, the backing recesses into the bookcase. For fire safety, the receptacle needed to be moved forward so it could sit flash to the back of the bookcase.
Slav opened the drywall around the wall switch so he could free the receptacle from the studs, (with the main breaker off, of course).
I did not get any photo of him moving the receptacle forward. But what he did was simple: free the receptacle from the studs, add a piece of 1″ scrap wood in front of the existing stud, then attached the receptacle to the side of the scrap wood. The drywall we used is 1/2″ and the backing of the bookcases recesses 1/2″, so mounting the receptacle 1″ forward allowed the receptacle to sit flash to the back of the bookcase.
We updated the old wall switch with a new model and in a darker color, then Slav cut the back of the bookcase where the wall switches would sit:
The switch was mounted back onto the receptacle, with the back of the bookcase sandwiched in between. Slav added the cover plate on and it was perfect.
While left completely accessible, the dark wall switch blends into the bookcase very well. Adding bright decor near it distracts the sight and makes it less noticeable.
The silk bouquet was actually my wedding bouquet. I love seeing it every time I use the wall switch. It is a lovely reminder of the happy life we are sharing. 🙂
2. Securing the Cases
Next, we moved onto securing the bookcases onto the wall and to each other. Since the wall is 166 3/4″ long, 9 1/4″ wider than five bookshelves combined (31 1/2″ x 5), we needed to make sure the bookcases are spaced out, with the middle bookcase centered on the wall.
I decided on 3/4″ spacing in between the bookcases. I cut some scrap wood to use as a filler to stuff between the bookcases:
I attached scrap wood pieces on each side of center bookcase, so I could link it with the neighboring bookcases at different heights and gain more stability this way.
Next I marked on the floor where exactly every bookcase needed to be, then placed the center bookcase (the 3rd one from left to right) onto the 2×4 base according to my mark.
With the center bookcase in place, I attached it to the wall studs with L-brackets (provided by IKEA):
Then I bought up two neighboring bookcases (2nd and 4th) and attached them to the center bookcase by driving screws through the side of the bookshelves and into the scrap wood pieces:
I used the pre-drilled holes for attaching the cases together, so I would not cause additional damage to the veneer. It also helped me to keep them perfectly leveled.
With the 2nd and 4th bookcases linked to the center bookcase, I attached them to the wall using more L-brackets. Now all three middle bookcases were perfectly secured to the wall and to each other.
I moved onto attaching the last two bookcases using the same method – linking the sides first using scrap wood, then attaching them to the wall using L-brackets.
Now all five bookcases were perfectly centered and secured. They felt solid and I could grab onto any of them without causing vibration on the others. With the middle case perfectly centered to begin with, exactly 3 1/8″ space on each side of the built-ins was left.
3. Filling the Cases
It was finally time to load all the books! I was a bit worried the weight of the books would shift the screws that link the cases together and to the wall, but it turned out perfectly. These bookshelves are plenty strong and did not move at all.
It took me a whole day sorting out all the National Geographic we have. Our collected dated back to 1914 (!), when the magazine was only 16 years young. It was a rare find at an estate sale. We do not know much about the man who collected them, except that he was a pilot and his collection ended on November, 2015. 🙁 After finding his correspondence with the National Geographic editorial office in between the book pages, I could not help but preserving his legacy by bringing the whole collection home.
We started subscription again after moving into our ranch and plan to fill the missing issues between 2015 and 2017. But I will forever remember the month the original collection stopped.
4. Trims and Moulding
The usage of scrap wood piece ensured that the bookcases are spaced exactly 3/4″ apart. These gaps will be covered by 2 1/2″ vertical trims.
As of the space under the cases, Slav has requested baseboard drawers. I guess I will be making drawers again!
We also have 9 1/4″ height to fill on the top of the built-in library, which will be covered with trim and crown moulding.
Although we are eager to finish the built-in, we are soaking in the rare normality in between renovation episodes. Roxie and Charlie can now hop around without worrying about sharp objects, and finally nap in peace. We could all use a break.
I love crossing off a to-do list. So here it is:
Reverse the closet
Create a new opening on the living room side
Frame the old office doorway
Drywall the closet and the old doorwayl
Assemble the bookshelves and build a 2×4 platform to boost them up
Bring the wall switches and outlets on the office/bedroom wall out so we can still access them with the bookshelves
Secure the bookshelves onto the wall
8. Load the books; clean up the office
9. Add trim and moulding to create a built-in look
10. Build baseboard drawers