DIY Bookshelf

If you’re like me and you have a habit of occasionally reading and getting angry, as most people do, you’ll know that “bookcases” sold in stores exist only for storing a small pot of flowers and a couple CDs. Trying to store actual books on them is an absurd idea, as you will no doubt see here.

Sonofabitch!!

Sonofabitch!!

It is almost always true that the older something is, the more it was built to last. So vintage or antique bookcases are always superior, and often more beautiful, ┬ábut not always affordable. It may also happen that the place in which you’d like to store your books is not ideal for a bookcase. So this, Strangers, is why I built my own, and why you should consider doing so too.

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First of all, this shelf is built right into the wall, instead of being a standalone book case. So to give it a more “complete” look as opposed to something just floating (which is still not at all a bad choice) I covered the wall where the shelves would be with an accenting wallpaper, which came in a little roll at Walmart. Our living room is a beautiful grey-blue, so for the wallpaper I chose a distressed silver damask. I would also love to make a second accent with this above the mantle, but that will be for another day. The exact height of the paper doesn’t really matter. I matched mine up with the light switch and thus is looks somewhat like a back splash. You may want to get some help with this, because putting it up is very awkward. Consider it a team-building exercise.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

A shelf I built 8 years ago with bird feeder hangers, and a great place to display my sword.

Next up, the brackets. To know how far up the shelves need to be from each other, measure with your largest book. That way you’ll know that all of your books will fit and won’t have to be placed front end down, because that’s annoying and you can’t easily see what the book is that way. As far as horizontal distance, we placed each bracket more towards the center than on the absolute edges of the space to prevent bowing of the shelves. The longer your shelves are of course, the more brackets you’ll need. You can get these at different price points from Home Depot, but years ago I used beautiful wrought iron bird feeder hangers that cost just $2 each, so keep in mind that improvising is totally ok here. Remember also to use a level.

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For our own shelves we salvaged what was left of the old bookcase, but barring any available scrap you can get some small sturdy shelf boards from Home Depot or even better just cut some solid wood to size and stain it the shade of rich mahogany, or whatever color you prefer. You don’t absolutely need to secure the boards to the brackets. We didn’t. You’ll see here that although we used a level, the boards appear to be slanted. This is because the actual house is slanted, so what can you do.

Because our baseboards are quite high and we didn’t want to ruin them with holes, we used the baseboards themselves as a support system for the bottom shelf. To prop up the remaining corner we piled beautiful yet totally useless old dictionaries to the correct height. If your house is similar to ours in this way you can do the same thing, and use anything you like here, like a pretty dowel or a skull.

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Speaking of skulls, no spooky library is complete without one, so among some of the decorative features I placed on the shelves is a beautiful skull candle. The wax inside is red so it looks like it’s bleeding when you light it, but we thought it was just too pretty to burn. Don’t overdo the decorations though, this is a place for books after all. If your decorative items are heavy and unbreakable enough you can use them as book ends. Just to be sure though I used some cheap standard ones I got from Staples. You’re going to need book ends if your shelf doesn’t have sides!

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Ta-Da!

Creating shelf space in this way doesn’t have to be just for books, and is ideal for small spaces. We did this for night stands, and you can also put a very long shelf on the wall behind your couch to act as a console table or end table. You can even create a lovely little surface by lining an old drawer with beautiful wall paper and hanging it vertically on the wall as you can see in this lovely example. Of course once I do this I’ll probably still fill it with books.

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Small House Decorating – Dressing Room

I’m late posting, I know. I’m way behind on a lot of my reading and writing, I have no idea what to catch up with first. But I have an excuse, I’ve been very busy transforming my dressing room from an ugly kid’s room into a glamorous adult refuge.

I’m pretty damn good at decorating. I get it from my dad. Nobody seems to know this, but he has a fantastic sense of style in all things, and he’s awesome. We enjoy discussions about warm vs cool colors, refinishing old furniture, and how much we hate wallpaper borders. Even so I was a bit nervous about this, because I was going bold. But a small room that you’re the only real user of is a pretty good excuse to be experimental.

Before: I forgot to take any official before photos, so this is one of the dresser that I took for the purpose of telling Facebook it was up for grabs.

Before: I forgot to take any official before photos, so this is one of the dresser that I took for the purpose of telling Facebook it was up for grabs.

The previous owners of our house were using this room as a nursery. It was pastel purple with white trim, and during the showing had a white crib and changing table. I have to admit that even for a baby this room was tiny, being only twice the size of our bathroom, so I’m pretty sure this is why they moved out. Of course I have no use whatsoever for a nursery, so what’s a girl to do? Dressing room!

Before: I had started moving things out of the room, and in my moment of color-anxiety I took this so I could try out different shades in good old photoshop.

Before: I had started moving things out of the room, and in my moment of color-anxiety I took this so I could try out different shades in good old photoshop.

For the last year or so though, this room still looked like it belonged to a little kid, just one that had no need to sleep. I was still using the dresser my dad had bought me when I was 12, supplemented for storage by a ghetto, sagging bookshelf that belonged to my father in law in the 60s. It had one of those big old pencil sharpeners on it that you’d see in classrooms. I’d always wanted to upgrade my dresser to a glamorous vanity and couldn’t afford one, so when my mom and step dad were downsizing from their condo into a smaller house, I got crazy lucky in that I got to take the vanity and cabinet set that had been in my family for many years. I remember these things being in the spare bedroom of our house when I was 7 or 8, but of course back then I didn’t appreciate the beauty of them. To a kid who grew up in the 90s, everything wood, old, or even just brown is often assumed to be “70s” and not worth paying much attention to. Kids are stupid.

After. That is one hell of a transformation. These hat boxes are decorative that I bought from Homesense. I use them for lingerie, which is brilliant. The dresser itself is also jam packed with lingerie.

After. That is one hell of a transformation. These hat boxes are decorative that I bought from Homesense. I use them for lingerie, which is brilliant. The dresser itself is also jam packed with lingerie.

When my step dad and brother brought these over to my house unexpectedly one recent afternoon before their move, I was stunned. These were just TOO gorgeous, how did I get so lucky? Of course it makes sense to paint a room before you get the furniture in, so I decided that was what would be happening this weekend. FINALLY.

This bench that my mom gave me out of her foyer with bolster pillows is a necessary soft place to sit, because there's absolutely no room for a bed. The space just wouldn't be complete without it. I'm aware some spots in the painting were missed. I'll have to get to that later.

This bench that my mom gave me out of her foyer with bolster pillows is a necessary soft place to sit, because there’s absolutely no room for a bed. The space just wouldn’t be complete without it. I’m aware some spots in the painting were missed. I’ll have to get to that later.

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At first I was going to go with a bright classic teal, the kind you see in 50s style decor and graphics. I figured it was still kid-friendly enough that it would keep the room “sellable” when we decided to move again. At that last minute though, I changed my mind. I wanted to distance myself from that look as much as possible. So I took the shade much, much deeper.

This is the vanity, and pictures just don't do it justice. The grain of the wood, the detailed craftsmanship, this thing is stunning. Because it's so small, a regular chair is enormous, so I'm using a small fold out ottoman/seat that I got for Christmas. It was probably pretty cheap and the top comes off for even more storage, and after using this three different ways in my house already, I totally recommend them. I think I should get a couple more.

This is the vanity, and pictures just don’t do it justice. The grain of the wood, the detailed craftsmanship, this thing is stunning. Because it’s so small, a regular chair is enormous, so I’m using a small fold out ottoman/seat that I got for Christmas. It was probably pretty cheap and the top comes off for even more storage, and after using this three different ways in my house already, I totally recommend them. I think I should get a couple more.

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I love those colors that are in between two or three things so they seem to change with the light. That’s what this is. I would consider it more or less straight up blue, but in the golden glow of artificial light, it turns teal green. It looks like the sky moments before full darkness, and that reminded me of New Orleans. Suddenly I had a theme in mind. I’ve always loved decorating with Mardi Gras beads, even our Christmas tree looks more like something off a Mardi Gras parade float, so why not run with that?

This is the matching cabinet, and it screams art deco. It holds plenty of stuff, but I won't be putting anything very heavy in it. It's very light and feels a bit delicate so I'm going to be very careful.

This is the matching cabinet, and it screams art deco. It holds plenty of stuff, but I won’t be putting anything very heavy in it. It’s very light and feels a bit delicate so I’m going to be very careful.

It’s not finished yet, but the big stuff is done. I still need to get a non-modern area rug to cover the multiple stains on that nasty grey carpet. One day we’ll pull it up and bring it back to its former hardwood glory. I’m going to decorate the walls with wrought iron and jazz album covers. I plan on making a shelf above the vanity that looks like a mini New Orleans balcony complete with wrought iron railing, ferns, a Bourbon Street sign, and with a MAD curtain of beads hanging from hooks underneath. But so far this looks like an entirely different room, and I’m finally not disgusted by it.

And now for more pics!

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When you just don't have much space, go vertical. These wall shelves are great for keeping all my bottles of perfume, jewelry, and some other things out of the way, and are decorative too. Attaching shelves directly to the wall is also great for nightstands in small bedrooms (which we've also done) or console tables above the couch when you just can't squeeze in an end table.

When you just don’t have much space, go vertical. These wall shelves are great for keeping all my bottles of perfume, jewelry, and some other things out of the way, and are decorative too. Attaching shelves directly to the wall is also great for nightstands in small bedrooms (which we’ve also done) or as console tables above the couch when you just can’t squeeze in an end table.

Goth Rosary and Britney Spears perfume, a winning combination.

Goth Rosary and Britney Spears perfume, a winning combination.

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If you're the type that loves flower and feather hair clips, keep them on a ribbon. They're easier to access, look great, and it fits as many as you'll ever want.

If you’re the type that loves flower and feather hair clips, keep them on a ribbon. They’re easier to access, look great, and it fits as many as you’ll ever want.

Shot glasses can be a cool way to store small items like bobby pins and earrings.

Shot glasses can be a cool way to store small items like bobby pins and earrings.

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Well, I guess that’s it for now! What do you think?