Sunday, April 26, 2015

DIY Wall of Built-Ins Made From Cheap Bookshelves!

Hey dolls!

I've been meaning to share one of our recent projects with you for weeks, but due to it being my busy season at work just haven't found time. Hubby and I (lets be real, mostly hubby) completed this project in February in less than a day! We wanted something to jazz up our big, bland and empty master sitting room, but didn't want to spend a fortune since we don't really anticipate using the space much. I asked hubby to do a big built-in wall unit when we moved in, but the size of that project is I think what ultimately put it on the back burner for 2 years. On a whim, we decided to use a time and money saving hack instead and I'm so glad we did! Ultimately, I think we have less than $170 and 8 hours in this project, which is minimal compared to the labor and cost of having custom built-in cabinets installed.

Pinterest is literally bubbling over with posts on "Ikea built-in hacks" or "DIY Ikea Cabinets" where folks buy several sets of inexpensive white Ikea cabinets, mount them to the wall, then add frame pieces or crown molding on top and quickly and inexpensively have something that looks like custom built-in cabinets.  It's genius! Our idea was really similar, but we didn't want white, don't have an Ikea anywhere nearby and wanted to add face frames to ensure all of the cabinets looked like one unit.

Since our bedroom is decorated in black, tan and gold, we decided to go with black cabinets. We went to our local Big Lots, where we bought 4 black bookshelf kits for $30 each, which I assume even outcheaps Ikea.  I've seen them at Walmart too, so you definitely don't have to live in an Ikea town to make this work. After bringing them home, hubby assembled them, which didn't take long. To add height and make them look more custom, he built a base in the footprint we decided on out of 2x4s, attaching the base to the wall for stability. We decided to position the middle two bookshelves further out to make it more dynamic.

After situating the bookshelves in place, he attached each of them to the wall. The last carpentry steps were to cut then nail base molding and crown molding to the top and bottom (covering the base and sitting above the top) then, and I felt strongly that this was the most important step, added face frames to each and every board out of inexpensive 1 inch by 1.5 inch pine strips. This made the unit look like one piece as opposed to what it really is, 4 cheap bookshelves placed side by side. It also gives the illusion that the cheap, thin boards are two or three times as thick as they really are. One thing I've found in all of our DIY'ing and home design adventures is that the thickness of your boards goes as far as anything else aesthetically. Thin wood almost always looks inexpensive, and unfortunately, $30 pre-fab bookshelves are made of very thin wood.

We then painted all of the molding and face frames black to match the shelves, paying close attention to match the gloss level of our pre-fab cabinets, again for the sake of cohesion. After everything dried came the fun part - decorating! Leaving the bottom row open for utility/storage, I decorated the top rows in black, gold and white, mostly with things I already had.

True story: I have so many picture frames (I can't ever find the backbone to demote a photo from frame to album, so in our house, once in a frame, always in frame - I'm such a softy) that I literally have them stockpiled without enough surface area to display them all (fortunately there were several in black and gold). My formal living room was a little over decorated, so I pulled several gold items from there. As always, I love to decorate with books, and one of my favorites, The History of Mathematics, was a perfect fit with its rich black spine.

I had two black mini candelabras that I picked up at an antique mall for $2 each that I decided to spray paint gold for more pop. I added the fake white orchid to the table (which was brown, but we painted to match the new unit) for color, which I picked up for 90% off ($2) at Michael's after Christmas. For some reason, the glitter on it made it part of the Christmas collection, which made it more, not less desirable to me, but I gladly accepted the discount. I also added some fake crystals (I keep a stockpile of them in my craft room) to the chandelier for more pizzazz. Stringing the crystals was by far the most time consuming part of my work on this project, mostly because I have no motor skills and huge fingers.

If you're looking for an easy, inexpensive way to fill up a wall and improve your home, I highly recommend this one! Unlike many of our projects, I feel like this one could be easily modified to suit any skill level. Thanks for reading dolls!
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