My Wife's Living Room Bookshelf

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Forum topic by ShopJunky posted 04-07-2019 04:26 AM 832 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 539 days

04-07-2019 04:26 AM

Hi Guys,

I will certainly need help and encouragement along the way here. Finally, after so many other projects, started and finished, I am onto my wife’s dream of a giant living room bookshelf. See Picture, the idea is to have a work station by the A/C return on the bottom left, maybe some actual cabinets with doors, of which I will construct, and the rest bookshelves. The width of the wall is 19’ or a hair less. Top of ceiling at highest point is 11’. Please be patient if you follow along and give me advice, I work super slow with a full-time job and 3 kids, so this will be a long project, maybe 6 months or more for me. And also, thanks so much for the guys on my other thread that replied concerning my choice of wood adn gave me several other items to think about too for the project. Here we go.

10 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


6276 posts in 1427 days

#1 posted 04-07-2019 04:44 AM

Hi Guys, See Picture, the idea is to have a work station by the A/C return on the bottom left,

- ShopJunky

I saw work station, and for me that means a computer space. I wouldn’t place a computer anywhere near a air return. It will pull all the junk that is free floating in the room right toward that vent.

I imagine having a regular flow of dry air flowing over any books, especially bound books may not be in their best interest either.

Not to pop any bubbles, but I would look for a different spot.

As far as design. I only have to please one critic, so I get as many pictures from Google images, Pinterest, Houzz, and any other magazine or site where she finds things that interest her. Once I narrow it down to maybe 5. I let her ruminate on them a while, and then she tellls me what to make. Just saying, married 38 + years, and have never had to sleep outside with the dog.

-- Think safe, be safe

View M. Chippa's profile

M. Chippa

32 posts in 605 days

#2 posted 04-07-2019 11:28 AM

Looks big enough to make a nice desk maybe a single cabinet to the left to keep more space open for the return. As long as it’s not being blocked it shouldn’t be a problem. If it’s a laptop for her work station you don’t have much to worry about, I doubt you even have to but if it’s a desktop you may just need to test which fan placement is the best (push, pull, or a combo of both)

View GrantA's profile


2856 posts in 2260 days

#3 posted 04-07-2019 01:14 PM

So you’re going all the way to the ceiling yeah? Desk sounds good just give plenty of space around the return, computer will be fine if in a cabinet.
My suggestions right off the bat are to plan on running crown molding around the room when finished- the bookcase will be the new wall surface on that side. Which means figure out the crown first and make sure the top rail of your face frame is taller than the crown. Same for baseboard, you need enough height to the bottom shelf to run baseboard (or if the bottom will be a deeper cabinet section plan on a toe kick like kitchen cabinets).
I suggest having the built-in go all the way to the right wall with a new door casing as part of it. Basically you’ll have about a 16” deep door casing. It’ll look great.
Here are some pictures of a big cased opening I did in my house with bookshelves. I apparently need to get better pictures from after we finished moving in. Don’t be afraid of having multiple depths versus a flat wall, and stacking molding profiles for more depth there.

View BlueRidgeDog's profile


708 posts in 632 days

#4 posted 04-07-2019 01:37 PM

I would limit it to the height of the side walls for aesthetics and to avoid having to deal with the vents and the angles. I would also draw it in Sketch-up first. Not an overwhelming job, as it is just four bookcases (skinny one on left) with a gap between number one (left) and number two for a work platform, then a cabinet that spans the gap above.

With that much space, if you were my customer, I would show you some designs that had a row of base cabinets with drawers and doors on the bottom at full depth of the work station with book cases on the top so you had storage room in addition to book room. I would also upsell you on some LED lighting that illuminated the ceiling and also the work area :-)

As to dust, I would not be that concerned as the desktop will seal agains the wall and the air return will be in the foot area, but you will want to keep any electronics clean regardless of where they are.

View ShopJunky's profile


11 posts in 539 days

#5 posted 06-07-2019 04:38 AM

GrantA, those are some nice pics and will definitely consider the crown molding. BlueRidgeDog, I will consider the 8’ height but am leaning towards all the way to the ceiling. Yes I agree it will be a bear and I’m sure with the angles and all, I’ll be using some choice BC words, but I think if I don’t go all the way up, I’ll have that regret. And despite the gripping during the project, I’ll quickly forget my troubles if it comes out well. I will incorporate some of your lighting ideas for sure.

I attached some previous projects, just very simple built-ins. On the first pic, the one with the b-board backing. That was my first project (2010) of this type and had to extend the hallway wall on the left side there to make it look like a built-in. The second pic, second project (2017) was for our mud room by the back door. First one was the foyer. Anyway, not showing off, just saying I have some basic skills, but can use any other info to help me with doing things better.

Anyway, this is what we’ve come up with and hope to provide a sketch for you guys soon. I will extend the wall on the left side of the doorway to re-position the light and fan switches so they face towards the doorway and so they will be out of the way of the bookshelves. The desk area will be 24” deep, but only there. We were going to go 24” across the whole thing at the deck height, but then forgot we wanted a ladder to roll across the bookshelf to access the upper levels of books. So that part and the new “tiny” wall section got easier. However the desk will now “stick” out a bit, so I will have to be creative there. My plan is to build three 60” modular sections supported on 30”. So two sections will be in the center and basically go all the way up. It will appear there are four sections because of the middle supports. The third section will be above the desk area and be not as large and will need to contour the ceiling. That will be a pain I’m sure, but at least it’s the small section. Depth will be actually 11.5” to make sure I can gather four 8’ boards from each plywood sheet. Shelf height will be 16” all the way up. We talked about starting at 16”, then going to 14”, but all our other shelves are 16” and it’s okay if there is a little space between shelves and it’s not like we’ll be hurting on space. Again, it will be painted white and I will use the b-board on the back. And I plan to fix all the shelves, no adjustables.

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11 posts in 539 days

#6 posted 06-07-2019 04:45 AM

oh, also, my question I had was should I try to get all the wood, plywood and 1×2 sticks all in the same run or would it be a bog deal to just get the material as I need it? I guess I’m asking if there’s any advantage to buying all at one time for same grade of wood, etc? I’d rather buy as needed and as the project progresses so I don’t turn my shop into a warehouse. Any thoughts on that?

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11 posts in 539 days

#7 posted 08-07-2020 04:44 AM

here’s some updates, I know, I work super fast, please please, just one order at a time.

making sort of a tunnel, sort of not really for the entry, I didn’t want to go the drywall route and thought this would work better. I think I’m finally past the stage where I really don’t know how to proceed. The bookshelves again will go over the entire wall, over the door and on the left side where a small built-in desk will go too.

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11 posts in 539 days

#8 posted 08-07-2020 04:49 AM

here are some more, once this is done, I can take precise measurement for the above door and above larger shelf units and make them. I still need to finish out and paint the ones you see in the pick. And that’s my friend in the one pic. I got side-tracked earlier this year and helped him build his wife’s she-shed.

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11 posts in 539 days

#9 posted 09-05-2020 07:41 PM

Okay, moving right along here, some more updated pics.

So the hole in the wall was a side project. The electric box was “too inside” the wall, it was nailed to the stud, but then, they the builder had a 1” strip in there, plus the drywall, which I did not remove and then finally the b-board. So I pulled the box out, re-positioned it, re-wired it and then was on my way.

View Robert's profile


3950 posts in 2334 days

#10 posted 09-06-2020 12:06 PM

Looking very nice so far! Good work.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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