a quick project

Hello friends!!  As you know we have many projects in the works here at our Love Nest!  We have moved our family room from its temporary space (at the front of the house) to its intended space (in the rear of the house) with the built in entertainment center.  This left a large room just off the front foyer empty, except for a lone sofa.

My initial plan for this room was to create a more formal sitting area, or possibly a library space, with a fireplace and maybe even a cozy reading nook.  We have been focusing our energy in the new family room, (completing the built in) but every time I come in the front door I cringe at the empty space left in that front room.  It’s just begging for some design!

Of course, we are on a pretty strict budget when it comes to overhauling this house of ours, and the ‘Home Improvement’ jar has been ominously empty since we began work on the new family room, all funds being diverted to this project.

But I just HAD to do something!

A few months ago I read this post by one of my favorite bloggers over at Centsational Girl.  Please visit her blog, she is a fabulous DIY’er with a keen eye for design.

Her, and her husband ‘Ikea Hacked’ the Billy Bookshelves from Ikea, and created a built in bookshelf with them.  The result was pretty awesome, they took those simple Billy Bookshelves and made them into a custom built in unit.  When I first read the post I was amazed at what you could do with Ikea products!  but I wanted a gas fireplace insert, shelves that continue straight to the ceiling, and possibly some closed storage space incorporated into a built in for our front sitting room.  Even though ‘Centsational Girl’s’ built ins were gorgeous,  I still figured we would just build what we wanted with the same paint grade veneered plywood we had created the family room built in from.  This way I would not be limited to the confines of the size and shape of an Ikea, Billy Bookshelf.

….Well, two months and one empty renovation jar later this option was beginning to look better and better!  So, we got creative.

We had a large Rona gift card from returning the unopened boxes of hardwood flooring we didn’t need to use, but……. you can’t buy Ikea shelves from Rona….obviously.  My, oh so clever, husband pointed out that you CAN, however, buy pre-finished laminated particle board (the same product Billy Bookshelves are made with) from Rona…..and then it was ON!

In order to keep within the limit of the money on the gift card I had to make some sacrifices.  The fireplace was out right off the bat *tear.  As was the option of creating a built in bookshelf made from veneered plywood.  Laminated Particle board, although used in quite a lot of furniture pieces these days, is not as durable as the veneered plywood we have used in the past.  It was difficult (for my husband especially) to trust in the functionality of a laminated particle board. Also, the finish of laminated particle board also has a lower grade appearance.  BUT, like a Billy Bookshelf, it is very affordable.

There are also upsides to using this pre-finished product, the most obvious being: it’s pre-finished. WOOOO HOOOOOO!!  I am getting tired. of. painting.  It’s the truth, people, one can only take so much painting.  The panels also came in 16″x96″ sizes which means we could go straight to the ceiling, and have a little more depth than the Billy’s would provide.

5/8″ white laminated particle board

Once we had our design all figured out, we purchased some 16″W x 96″ H panels to serve as the sides, tops, bottoms and shelves, as well as some full sheets (48″x96″) which we used for the backs of each shelf.  The idea was to essentially create our own Billy Bookshelves but with the height and width we required.

four bookshelves
It really didn’t take much to create each shelf, a few cuts to make the proper width for the tops, bottoms and shelves, cutting the panels to size for the backs, and then screw them all together.  I figured it probably took the same amount of time to build these as it would to put a Billy Bookshelf together, if you take into account the hour it takes you to decipher what the strange man on the Ikea instructions is trying to explain…..
Then, exactly like ‘Centsational Girl’ did here with her baseboard, we did with our crown molding.  Hubby very carefully cut out the existing crown from behind where the shelves were being installed so we could reuse it across the front of the built in.
existing crown
crown removed
Once the crown was removed we could install and trim out the shelves!

We simply capped the fronts of the bookshelves (again, just like they did in the post I have referenced) with MDF trim pieces to hide the spaces between each unit.  The baseboard for the room (still unpainted in this photo above) runs around the room and right along the front of the built in as well.  The shelves that are shown already installed in the photo above, are fixed in order to create a space along the bottom for us to add drawers.  These drawers will be mainly for filing, as I need the space, but can also be used for storing things that don’t need to be on display.


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