I always felt like this side of my living room was missing something. It needed a little more function. I had refinished a secretary hutch years ago, which I still love and the arm chair from Ikea is a nice seat to sit on to read but something still felt missing. I always wanted to have built ins in this area, so I decided to DIY built-in bookshelves and a window bench. Here’s how we did it.
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Build or buy a bookcase?
We decided to buy bookcases and build around them for several reasons. I found a pair of bookcases on Facebook Marketplace and they were only $40 each and solid wood! The size was also perfect for the space too!
With the high cost of lumber, I found it cheaper to buy the bookcases and build around it than to purchase more wood.
I was also in a time crunch because these built ins were part of a competition that ended up making the top 3 for Behr’s to DIY for contest on TikTok!
The only issue was that we had to break the top of one off because we could not remove it from a second floor.
Using Titebond wood glue, I applied it to the top of the bookcase and the part we broke off and placed it on to dry. I then applied wood filler to fill in the seam and fill any nail holes that were caused by a metal track that was holding up the shelves.
Because we removed the track, the original shelves weren’t wide enough so we had to replace them.
We purchase wood and used a brad nailer to nail them in place and sanded them smooth.
Now the bookcases were ready to be installed.
Cut Baseboard Trim
To remove it, I used a pry bar and hammer to pry it off. This will allow the bookcase to sit directly against the wall.
When measuring the depth, consider the plywood and finish trim that will go on the face of the bookcase.
Using wood screws, I drilled the studs together.
Once the base frame was in place, I drilled it into the wall.
I placed the bookcase on top of the floor frame and started to build the frame around it.
I glued the stud to the bookcase using Titebond and also screwed it in place with wood screws.
For the framing, I drilled the wood screws on an angle vs doing pocket holes since you won’t see any of this.
I made sure to add additional studs in between the top framing to add a picture light. Also used a level to make sure everything was leveled. We only had to add a small shim to the bookcase on the right side.
I then nailed the plywood to the framing using my brad nailer.
It was starting to take shape!
For the baseboard, I added 1/2 inch x41/2 inch (pictured is the 1/2 inch x 3 1/2 inch).
I nailed the baseboard in and added decorative trim to cover the seams between the bookcase and the plywood.
I wanted to add decorative molding to the DIY built-in bookshelves that blended well with the trim around the window. This would make it seem like the built ins are original.
If you notice the decorative trim running up and across the top of the bookcase. It matches the window trim right above the window perfectly.
Fill Nail Holes
This is the most tedious part of the project for me. But also the most exciting because it means we’re getting close to the finish line. I filled all the nail holes with wood filler.
I applied a good amount in the nail hole then carefully wiped away the excess.
Caulk & Paint
I caulked all the gaps and seams. Once the caulk was dried, we primed, including the cabinet doors for the bottom of the bookcase, and then applied two coats of paint.
I went with the color Even Better Beige by Behr.
It was perfect because it’s comparable to Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and thats what I have on my trim now. It matches perfectly even with the accessible beige being at 75% strength.
We also added a window bench over our radiator (I’ll write a blog post about it soon). Added picture lights, and styled the shelves with mainly thrifted items.
I spray painted the original cabinet door hinges and some knobs I already had with Behr Premium Spray Paint in the color gold.
It turned out better than I could have ever imagined! Doing DIY built-in bookshelves was a little intimidating but we had done built-in desks with shelves in our guest room/office.
I even did an Ikea drawer hack and the whole built in with two desks, cabinets, shelves, and a Murphy bed turned out great too!
I did a few more DIYs, like the small pedestal table, pleated lamp shade, and stenciled a pillow. You can catch all those DIYs on my Instagram.