Tuesday, March 20, 2012

"Built-in" Bookshelves

When I first started envisioning our formal living room, I knew I wanted to transform the room and make it more like a library or reading room.  Bookshelves are critical for achieving this look.  But, bookshelves can be difficult,  you have to find the right ones that are the perfect dimensions, match your style and hopefully they're not outrageously expensive. We briefly considered having a carpenter build us built-in shelves but decided it wasn't right for this room and we just didn't want to spend that much.  I seriously considered these shelves from Ballard and many other systems like it.  However, I didn't like the cream color of the Ballard shelves and the dimensions still weren't right for our space.  Around this time, I saw an amazing tutorial from Centsational Girl about an amazing "Ikea hack" where she took Billy shelves and turned them into a custom wall feature that turned out beautifully.  Check that out here and here.  After never really finding the perfect bookcases for the room, I revisited this idea and finally just decided, heck, let's give it a try! So, here you go, this is our own version of a Billy bookcase conversion to a built-in shelving system.

The main wall in our library is about 105" wide from the wall to the window.  When allowing for curtains to be placed on the window, I had about 96" to cover with bookshelves. I ordered three 11" deep Billy bookcases (31" wide) and three height extension units. I really wanted tall bookshelves that were nearly floor to ceiling, so this made them 8 ft tall and they look great with our 9" ceilings.

Because we live about 3 hours away from Ikea, we decided to have the bookshelves shipped to us, which added a lot of money to the price, but was nice for my sanity's sake.  We started this project on Saturday morning and were done with paint touch ups on Sunday afternoon. Here's what we did:

Bookshelves in their packaging from Ikea

The boxes arrived from Ikea on Saturday morning. We unpacked everything and started to assemble the shelves according to the pictorial Ikea directions. This was the first thing I've ever really bought from Ikea and it went well although I was a little weary of the process. We put the frames of the shelves together first.

Putting the shelves together

Then, I painted the back panels of the bookshelves with Sherwin Williams Shagreen paint. I had been wanting to incorporate green into this room in a big way and decided that this would be better place for the green than the walls. Shagreen matches the green in the leaves of the fabric really well and I think this really makes the bookshelves look custom.

Bookcases and height extension units are assembled
With the bookshelves assembled, we moved them around until we had them exactly where we wanted them. Then, we used the wall brackets to anchor them to the wall for safety. You definitely don't want a wall of bookshelves falling over on you ;)

Bookcases placed next to each other and secured to the wall

We positioned them side-by-side and secured the height extension units. In the picture below, you can see what the shelves look like, with little changes made.  These are the basic Billy shelves from Ikea, with the height extension units on each, that make them 8" tall.

Billy bookcases without custom trim

To make the shelves look more custom-made and like one solid wall of bookshelves, we added trim.  First, we added baseboard to the bottom of the shelves.  The standard Billy bookcase feet are not that attractive, so I found that adding baseboard really made a big step in the right direction. We used a fast-setting epoxy to attach all of the trim to the bookcases. This was really easy and allowed us to avoid hammering into the bookshelves or damaging the molding. The trim was painted Dove White by Valspar to match the color of the  Ikea white bookshelves.

Standard bottom of a Billy bookcase
Bookcases with baseboard trim added 
 Then, we added crown molding to the top of the bookcases. This also really helps make the three bookcases become one large wall of bookcases. I love the way the crown instantly gives these shelves a new look.
Adding crown molding to the bookshelves
In progress picture of attaching trim
 After installing both the crown and baseboard molding, we placed pieces of flat wood trim where the bookcases meet.  We used pine 'lattice' boards for this, 1" wide pieces for the two outside edges and 2 1/4" wide pieces for the middle two columns.  We allowed the trim to overlap the shelves slightly and I think this is a really nice effect.

Adding the trim pieces between the bookshelves
 After all of the trim was up, we just had to caulk and touch up in a couple of places.  It was a long Saturday of work, but we are so thrilled with our result!

Finished built-in bookcases in our new library
Custom 'built-in' bookshelves from Billy bookcases
Here are some more pictures of the shelves. I'm really loving them and I know the green is bold, but it's fun and completely reversible in the future!

Now, I just have to fill them and get to styling my shelves! :) 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Pinch Pleat Curtains

I am so excited to show you the amazing progress that we've made in our library/living room this weekend. Seriously, it's looking so different now!

On Friday evening, after some amazing sushi, my mom and dad came over to bring the curtains that my mom sewed for the room.  I ordered this P. Kaufmann fabric from LS Fabrics in Atlanta.  I chose this fabric as the inspiration for the room, so it was pretty important that we get the curtains right. I love the pattern, linen fabric, and the color palette.

We chose to do pinch pleats because they're so pretty and go well with the theme of the room.  My mom sewed  the panels and used pleat hooks to form the pinch pleats.  These pleat hooks are so cool, they make the process of actually forming the pleats go so much faster. Plus, they can really help you to get a professional look.  You use pleater tape on the top of the back of your panels and insert pleat hooks to create the triple pinch pleat. There's a great explanation of this technique here. This is kind of what the back of the headers of our panels look like, except we have a fabric lining:

Pleated drapes with pleat tape.  source: prudentbaby.com

I purchased silver curtain rods with faux-mercury glass finials for the curtains.  I got matching silver rings for each pin in the back of the curtains to hang on. We also chose to make the panels full length and go from floor to almost the ceiling. I love how this makes our ceilings feel tall and the windows feel bigger than they are. In the end, I love the look of our new curtains and I'm so happy that my mom was able to help me and them look so beautiful!! Check them out in the room:


Those pictures were all taken at night, here's what they look like in the daytime. The room is really bright and airy, so relaxing!

So, what do you think? I love them and I think they're really going to bring the room together.

Come back tomorrow for a reveal of my built-in bookshelf project!! We are so excited about showing off our weekend project. It's a big one, can't wait!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Vintage Book Bundles

While we were shopping in Charleston, we found an amazing French antique store on King Street.  I loved almost everything in this shop, but it was outrageously expensive... rightfully so, because everything was really, really old and direct from France.  I fell in love with some book bundles that they had on display at the front of their store.  When I asked about them and how much they cost, the owners told me that the ones I liked weren't for sale but there were similar ones that were $250+ for a bundle of 2-3 books.  At that point, I decided that was crazy and just decided to browse around for inspiration not to buy anything.

When I got home from Charleston, I started looking online for similar book bundles and found some cute things on Etsy and a few on eBay.  But, it's really hard to tell what they look like in person from the pictures. So, I thought that I might be able to recreate something similar myself.  Yesterday, I went to Goodwill to look to see if they had any books that I could use for our new bookshelves in the library/sitting room.

I wound up buying 14 hardcover books and 10 paperback books, all very random in subject material... things I probably won't read, but will look pretty on the shelves. I chose most of these books based on the color of their spine or the condition of the paperback books.

I grouped the hardcover books into stacks that will go on the shelves eventually and then I got to working on turning the paperback books into bundles.  I removed the thick paper covers and paper over the spines to reveal the main part of the book.  I tore out a couple of pages so that the first page was one that I thought looked pretty.  Then, I stacked 3-4 books together and tied them with twine to create my bundle.

I'm pretty excited that I was able to create each bundle with 3-4 $0.75 books, what a bargain! This is especially cheap compared to some of the options on Etsy, these discontinued Pottery barn book bundles which were $40.

We're starting our bookcase project this weekend and I'm getting really excited about filling the shelves. These books and book bundles will look great with the other accessories that I've collected for the shelves. Here's a sneak peak at some of the items I've got so far.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Weekend in Charleston

King St in Charleston

We took off Friday to spend a long weekend in Charleston, SC. My family was there for spring break, so we met them there on Thursday night and then spent Saturday and early Sunday exploring downtown Charleston.

 Here are some pictures from our trip:
BLT with fried green tomatoes at Poogan's Porch on Friday for lunch
Jennifer and Beth at dinner on Friday night

On Saturday morning, we spent the day walking around downtown Charleston. It was a really pretty day :)

We ate lunch at Magnolias and it was delicious! We had an appetizer of wonderful pimento cheese on their homemade flat bread. For lunch I had a shellfish(shrimp, scallops and lobster) in a cream sauce over grits. Kevin had a spicy shrimp and sausage dish.
Magnolias in Charleston
After lunch, we walked more around the city and had a lot of fun exploring.  I really enjoyed taking pictures of the cute scenery.

Saturday night we ate at 39 Rue de Jean, a French restaurant. We found a french pastry shop that sold macarons while walking to dinner, so that was fun! For dinner, I had duck and Kevin had braised rabbit. It was a fun night!

Sunday morning, we ate brunch at Hominy Grill before leaving to head home. We both ate shrimp and grits... a fabulous last meal in Charleston!

We were excited to get home to see Darcy though :)
After picking Darcy up from the kennel/groomer

p.s. A big happy birthday to Kevin!! It's his 25th birthday today :) 
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