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Building Bookshelves

I shared the bookshelves that hold my collection of whites out in the guest cottage
recently and promised to share a bit more about how they were built.

I was a bad blogger who was under a major time crunch to get this room done
 and so I didn't take as many photos of the process of building them
I was too busy running around building- 
but I did grab a few photos with my phone of the process.

We were basically starting from scratch having removed a lot of what was already there.
We put bead board up on the walls- and the bottom half of the wall bumped out just a couple of inches.
because the guest cottage is built somewhat sunken into the ground and has half concrete walls.
It also has a concrete floor- which is far from being perfect or level.

Oh yes, building level bookshelves that measure level and that appear to be level-
 with uneven all around is loads of fun.
Let's just say it made me question
 just why I thought built in bookshelves were a grand idea.

We started by measuring the size of the width that we wanted.
I am a symmetry girl- and wanted a bookshelf on each side of a fireplace- so given the measurements of the space- and the measurement of the fireplace we were planning to use-
the bookshelves each measured 4' wide. 

(There was an older fireplace mantel/surround shell originally in the middle of the wall-
 and so that stayed to give us a bit of an idea while working.
Plus, it was a great spot to put all the tools and caulk, etc.

The bookshelves are constructed of pine~ simple, easy and inexpensive
and it tied in well with the exposed pine beams that are original to the building.
After the framing was up~ we added the shelves by securing them
 with small screws and nails and we had the beginnings of shells of the bookcases.

I wasn't sure just how we were going to dress the top of the bookshelves.
I knew I wanted them to look like pieces of furniture with a crown or something to finish them.
The crown moulding we were originally thinking of using looked a bit too flat with the lines of the ceiling
but I had an old vintage bed headboard that had a nice curve and detailing to it
and thought... why not.

So  I traced the frame onto pine boards and Ryan cut them out. 
Yes, that is my grandfathers old jigsaw.
 It actually works better than the jigsaws of today and we love that when we were using Gramps' tools-
 it was kind of like he was helping us to build.
After sanding them with a handheld sander- the curves and edges were smooth
and we put them up to see how they would look.

The bottom part was perfect - I love the little details at each corner and the center arch
but they needed something along the top.
Ryan had an idea to take the piece that had been cut out and use it on top of the board.
( did I ever tell you my boys were stars in wood shop designing and creating unique projects?)

The other piece of the board worked perfectly and it really made the bookshelves look very unique.
After that it was a lot of sanding, caulking, painting and finishing up the bookshelves 
with fluted trim and mouldings and detailed trim along the front of the shelves.

For the bottom shelf area
I sewed a couple of drop cloth panels and put them up with tension rods.
Then it was time for the fun part~ 
 to fill them with treasures.

I love how these bookshelves turned out 
and they really do make such a statement in this room and I love that old charm they have.


  1. Ma chère vous avez un époux merveilleux qui participe hardiment à la conception de ces étagères... A vous deux vous êtes une sacrée bonne équipe ! Le résultat est sous mes yeux ETONNANT!!
    Bravo à vous deux.
    Gros bisous

  2. So, when you talk about styling, does that mean that you start with the 'heavy' objects in the center areas and work out? Or, how do you balance the looks? Thanks

  3. These look great. Projects are so much fun especially when I have someone great to do the assembly part! I know I always feel good when I have a project look as good as yours. You must be thrilled with them. Love the drop clothes at the bottom. Have a great day! -Tonya

  4. Courtney, this is just breathtaking! This is so much more than a guest cottage... it is a dream house! Your work paid off and your shelves look like they have always been in your "cottage"!

  5. Beautiful job on the bookshelves. Great job.


  6. I love your bookshelves and the fact that you built them. That header makes them look like they were built by a master carpenter...which, maybe they were! You've got some very handy boys there.

    Have a lovely day!

  7. I Looooooooove it! I have two alcoves between my lounge fireplace I have to do something with. I was thinking about just getting Billy bookcases from Ikea, but maybe I should rethink this, seeing your gorgeous shelving! Again, I looooooooove it!!!

  8. Beautiful job, Courtney! I love that top piece and how it turned out. It really adds some interest as opposed to a straight molding. Love the skirt for the bottom, too.

  9. They couldn't possibly be any prettier... All the layers and shades of white are so delicious, just a visual feast... You're so lucky to have a handyman around to help you out too.


  10. Wow Courtney,they turned out just gorgeous :)


  11. Your bookshelves are beautiful. Love them!

  12. Absolutely LUV IT!
    What a great space to hang out in! You're gonna have to charge admission pretty soon, and take reservations!

  13. Superbe Bravo Bonne nuit Bisous ANNIE

  14. Another beautiful project completed by a darling couple! Great job, Courtney! Love that you used the headboard idea! :)

    xoxo laurie

  15. The finished shelves are so pretty. I love the detail at the top and the curtains at the bottom.

  16. Hi Courtney!!!

    I love how you get your family involved!! It's a great way of spending time together creating a beautiful atmosphere.The book shelves are so beautiful and your collection is just as beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your great ideas!!!!


  17. These bookshelves are so inspiring. You made something so simple, so beautiful. Makes me want to do something with mine. Thanks Kylie

  18. What a lovely collection of ironstone and white pieces. I love the idea of built ins on both sides of the fireplace. It's all so lovely.


  19. The bookshelf is lovely, and the treasures are just beautiful!

  20. First your collection is beautiful. I love the bookcases you did a great job. The room looks gorgeous.

  21. Creative geniuses! Those bookshelves are amazing and Ryan is a chip off the block!

  22. Love the book shelves! Could you tell me the depth of the shelves?

  23. I love the bookshelf and your white is glorious!! I love how the room turned out.

  24. Absolutely stunning Courtney! They look incredible and you guys did an amazing job on them...both the building and the stylng!

  25. Very inspiring and it seems so easy when others are doing it! I'm keeping some of the pictures to explain the carpenter what I want when I'll have my living-room done in ... just a few years!

  26. wow .... it looks great.

    greetings Trudy

  27. Absolutely stunning shelves -I love the detail!

    Dee at the Carlton

  28. I was waiting for this post Courtney! I think they are beautiful and I love that you designed them and Ryan helped figure out a way to make them really special! Outstanding!!

  29. Courtney, those are wonderful. I love the detail of the arch. My son's name is Ryan, too.

  30. so pretty, Courtney!! it is really special to use those tools from grandparents. :)

  31. I think everyone wants to come stay at your place Courtney! You'll have to start taking in boarders :) They really are gorgeous and SO complement the room!!

  32. What a great idea to add these to the room... they look like they were original to the space! You have such a talent for design!


  33. Courtney, These are beautiful and I love the arched top. You guys did such a great job and your dishes look beautiful.


  34. Beautiful bookcase, Courtney! We are building 2 bookcases right now--have one almost ready to move in and the other still under construction. It is so nice to have bookcases that fit into your room so that no space is wasted. I love how you decorated them in all white as well.

  35. Oh wow, these built-in shelves turned out AMAZING! I really need something like this in our Master. Can you fellas come teach my hubby? :)
    I love how you've styled the shelves so far. Just dreamy here.

  36. Everything is so beautiful. Thank you for hosting.