Posts Tagged ‘woodworking’

Recessed Between Stud Bookshelf

If babies are so tiny, why do they come with/need so many things?! Our nursery is a smaller room, so when planning out our space we did not have the option to fit many pieces of furniture in there.

When we discovered that there wasn’t enough floor space for a bookshelf to house all of the fabulous books I had envisioned for our little one, my mind went into solution mode. In the nursery, the closet door opens out into the room, rendering the wall that the door opens against almost useless. This was the perfect spot to create a recessed bookshelf. After all, if you don’t have the floor space, think vertically and use the wall space!

My husband and I did not use any plans or consult any tutorials for the bookshelf. We wanted to keep this project as simple as possible in order to ensure that we got it all done in advance of the little one’s arrival.


Bear with me on this one—there are several steps, but I promise they’re pretty easy. Writing out directions makes it look way more time consuming than it actually was, especially if you have a solid weekend of time to dedicate to the project instead of splitting it up across weekends (which is what we had to do).


What you need:

Stud Finder

Reciprocating saw

Drywall/Keyhole saw

Wood- 1 sheet of birch plywood, 3/4” for the bookshelf; 1 2×4 for Header/Footer

Wood Screws

Table saw

Miter saw

Drill (which might also be your electric screwdriver)

Electric Screwdriver—can be done by hand, but be prepared for some muscle strain



Speed Square

Wood Glue (optional)



Wood Filler

Sanding pad



Step 1:

Locate the studs for the wall on which you want to put the bookcase. Usually studs are 16 inches apart, if not that then possibly at 24 inches apart. Use your stud finder and mark with pencil on the wall—do this a few times to verify your readings! Our studs were at 16 inches. As this is narrow, we decided that we wanted the bookcase to span the width of two stud areas.

Step 2:

After marking where the studs were, we decided on the overall height of the bookcase. The dimensions we went with were 30” by 57.25”. Use a level to draw straight lines outlining your bookcase. Use a drywall/keyhole saw to cut your hole. Get ready for lots of dust.

Step 3:

If you’re only using the narrow space between 2 studs, you can skip over this step. In the photo below you can see that after cutting away the wall, the middle stud still stands. We also discovered an odd piece of metal in the bottom right corner.

holeThe metal was not doing anything structurally so we cut this away before dealing with the middle stud. Use a reciprocating saw to take out the stud.

without stud


Step 4:

Since we took out the middle stud, we wanted to make sure to put a header and footer at the top and bottom of the bookcase hole. This would guarantee that even with the stud gone, the hole is still structurally sound.

We cut down a 2×4 to the width of the openings on the left/right of the middle stud. We then used wood screws to place the header and footer behind the drywall at the top and bottom of the opening. Secure the header/footer by fastening the screws into the studs on the left and right of the hole, as well as to the middle stud itself.

hole3Take this time to vacuum up all the lovely drywall debris.


Step 5:

Before we cut any wood for the cabinet itself, we sketched out the unit and marked all of our upcoming measurements. With this in mind, we were able to cut our wood at one time. Two heads are certainly better than one when it comes to calculating measurements—remember the golden rule of measure twice, cut once.

Here’s what our schematic looked like.        Here it is as well in PDF:  PDF Plan of Schematic



Step 6:

With all measurements exact and ready to go, it was time to start cutting the wood. We cut the sides, top, bottom, and all shelves first. It was helpful for us to layout the wood as each piece was complete—the bookcase was clearly taking shape.

structureWe cut the back panel last as it was the largest piece of wood.


Step 7:

This step is purely optional. Maybe you noticed in the photo above that there was a line running along each shelf. We wanted a slight notch on each shelf to better ‘catch’ a book if it started to slide.

We measured where the notch would go and marked it on each shelf. We made the notch by running each shelf over the table saw when the blade was very low.



Step 8:

We stood the wood up on the ground at the correct measurements (according to our diagram) to ensure that everything fit. We were glad to see that it was perfect!



Step 9:

With the unit coming together, it was time to turn our attention to the sides of the bookcase. If you’re not using dowels to keep your books on the shelf, this step will be modified for you.

While the bookcase was lying on the garage floor, looking like a ladder (photo above), we made a mark on the side pieces at the top and bottom of each shelf. Remember, we had the unit in exactly the measurements we wanted it.

We then used a straight edge to draw the line across the side pieces, from front to back.


As you can see in the photo above, we also marked 2 small holes where we would use screws to secure the side pieces and shelves together.

The other hole in the photo is the hole for the wooden dowels. Again, the placement of the dowel was decided when we did our earlier schematic.

For time’s sake, we placed each side piece on top of one another and pre-drilled all of these holes with a drill bit close in size to the screws we were using. This way we knew that the holes were in exactly the same spots on each side, which would give us nice, level shelves in the long run.


Step 10:

Begin to assemble the bookcase. Grab the back panel, sides, and top/bottom pieces of wood.

We used wood glue and 4 wood screws each on the top and bottom pieces of wood and fastened them into the side pieces. Use a speed square to ensure that each corner is 90 degrees.

We flipped this on its face and affixed the back panel with wood screws, spaced evenly around the perimeter. Again, we used some wood glue to secure everything together.



Step 11:

With the overall cabinet complete, it was time to slide the shelves into place. We aligned the shelves with the marks we had made earlier on the side pieces. We then used wood screws (going from the outside of the side pieces) to secure the shelves to the sides of the cabinet. Repeat this step for as many shelves as you have.


I took this picture from the top end of the cabinet. Looks good so far!


Step 12:

Trim your dowels down to the width you would like them to be.

Slide your dowels into the left side hole and push it through the cabinet all the way into the right side hole. Repeat for each shelf you have. You may have to use a mallet to nudge them into place.


Step 13:

The moment of truth came when we slid the cabinet into the wall opening—it was a perfect fit! Boy does it feel good when you do a woodworking project right!

Use screws to secure the bookcase to the wall studs as well as header/footer you installed.

In our merriment I forgot to take a picture of this step.

Fill in your screw holes with wood filler, let dry, and sand.


Step 14:

Time for some beautification. We used casing as trim around the bookcase because we wanted it to match the closet door it is closest to. Use a miter saw to quickly cut the 4 pieces of trim to size. Use nails to secure it to the studs and the header/footer around the bookcase. Caulk where the corners of the trim meet and let dry.



Step 15:

The last step is to paint the bookcase. We went with white because we liked that it was a simple contrast with the wall color. If you’re cooler than us, you could always use an accent color to make the back of the bookcase really pop. Two coats of paint, and she was ready to go.

painted bookshelf


finished bookshelfWe love how this project came out. It was a nice way to put a personal touch on the room and is an extremely functional use of space. Furthermore, it was such a nice, special project to do together. We know that this bookcase will see a lot of use, and can’t wait for many story times ahead!



Ikea Hack: Armoire Storage Upgrade Part One

If you have a craft room or designated area in your house, you are one lucky person. I had a corner in one of our extra bedrooms, and it was, shall we say, slowly starting to creep out of its designated corner. With my Joann bags of craft supplies starting to run amok, it was time to find a more permanent storage solution.

An armoire would give ample storage, but boy are some of those suckers expensive! I looked at some gently loved pieces that we could modify and paint, but for the existing price and work we would have to put in to refresh the piece, new seemed like the way to go.

Lo and behold IKEA had an unfinished pine wardrobe that seemed to fit the bill. Who knew IKEA sold unfinished furniture? Determined to get in and out of IKEA, we set out strictly to see the FJELL Armoire. We saw it, we loved it, we bought it.

image from

image from

I liked the fact it was unfinished—I wouldn’t have to fix dents, sand existing paint, etc. I also liked the style, it kind of had a barn look going for it. The only thing that would have to be modified was the interior of the cabinet. As this wasn’t going to be used as a wardrobe, we needed shelving instead of a clothes rack. An easy fix for my husband!

We first had to assemble the armoire—for anyone who has ever put together IKEA furniture, you know what this can be like. It took us almost 2 hours, but finally it was standing upright. As you can see it is a large piece of furniture, measuring 81 7/8” high, by 43 ¼” wide, by 25 ¼” deep.  

standingWe made one modification during the assembly process. We didn’t like the flimsy particleboard backing that came with the piece, so we cut down a ¼” piece of pine plywood instead. Also, we did not leave the entire back solid, as you can see in the photo below. We wanted air to circulate and also allow the possibility for electrical cords to come out of the back, should we want to put something electronic in there in the future.

cut outsNext up was the shelving. We decided that we wanted a space for 2 large Tupperware, a slightly shorter space for 2 baskets, a smaller space to serve as a catch-all for whatever, and then a shelf for my sewing machine and its components. I wanted the sewing machine shelf at as close to chest level as possible so I wouldn’t have to bend over too far to get it, or get out a chair in order to reach it.

I want to mention that before we measured or cut the wood for the shelves, I first went out and purchased the large Tupperware containers and storage baskets. I didn’t wind up using baskets at all—instead I found crates that had a barn wood look to them.

To fit my storage goodies, our shelf heights wound up at 21” from the bottom of the armoire for the lowest space, at 35” for the middle space, and at 42” for the top space.

shelvingTo construct the shelves, we used ¾” oak plywood that we already had on hand. The cubbies are not only practical, but necessary for the structural integrity of the shelves–the vertical wood will ensure that the shelf will not sag in the middle.

Starting from the bottom, we centered the vertical wood under the lowest shelf. We used two self-boring wood screws for each horizontal shelf on each side of the armoire, screwing them in from the outside of the armoire.

We then used 2 wood screws drilling through the top of each horizontal shelf into the standing vertical wood. We continued this method as we worked our way up the shelving, and those things aren’t going anywhere! The shelves are solid and ready to hold all of my crafting supplies.

We applied wood filler to the holes on the outside of the armoire and gave it a sanding. It was all ready to be primed and painted, but that’s another project for another day!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we try our hand at using a paint sprayer for the first time!


Powder Room Face Lift

We found our townhouse when we weren’t even seriously looking to move. We saw this house had popped up via foreclosure and when we went for a walk through we knew that the opportunity was too good to pass up. The house was in no means unlivable (compared to my old condo—which upon seeing it for the first time with my father I literally cried while he was like a child in a candy store). The house just needed a bit of TLC and some elbow grease, which we were more than willing to do.

It’s been a process, but we’ve chipped our way along most of the rooms in the house, trying to turn the damaged or lackluster spaces into something a bit more cozy and to our taste. Unfortunately, we’re not Rockefellers, so we’ve had to be very conscious of budgeting money for projects and choosing where to save and where to splurge just a wee bit.

The powder room in our house was a great candidate for a face lift. Here’s a shot before we moved in:


Not bad at all—the brown paint was a lot more intense than it seems in the photo, and the toilet, as in most vacant houses, had seen much better days. There was no mirror, towel bar, or lighting fixture—the bank had sold off these types of things in the entire house. These were some easy fixes.

As the entire house had each room a different color (seriously– avocado green, navy blue, purple, both light and dark, orange, brown, sea foam green, and one in a peachy Venetian plaster faux finish), we chose to have it professionally painted one color before we moved in. With a two story foyer and crazy vaulted ceilings, it was worth it to us to pay to have the whole place painted a neutral color. We could then decide individual room paint colors later on and do this ourselves. We chose Wool Skein by Sherwin Williams- a great, warm neutral color.

wool skein joined

Here’s a shot after the neutral color went on as well as after we put in a new toilet (sorry it’s dark).


After adding a mirror, lighting fixture, towel bar, and toilet paper holder, the bathroom was fresh and functional. We left it this way for a little over a year and a half as we focused our attention on other spaces.

Since we decorated our living space on the first floor in hues of greens, blues, and creams, it was time to revisit the powder room.  We wanted to coordinate the bathroom with the living space and newly constructed built in entertainment center.

It didn’t take much to further transform this bathroom. I love the look of beadboard in a bathroom, especially in a half bath where there may not be much character in the space. I think pairing blue or gray paint with white beadboard is a classic look (luckily my husband agrees) so our decision was easily made.

We put up the beadboard which was actually fairly easy to do. It is just a matter of cutting the sheet down to size, holding it against the wall, and using a nail gun to secure it in place—definitely a two person job.

Action shot of my hard worker :)

Action shot of my hard worker :)

We then painted the walls from the top down to where the beadboard started. We came close to the top of the beadboard but were not concerned about being perfect as the chair rail would cover this anyway. The paint color is Aloof Gray by Sherwin Williams. It is a lovely color that I would certainly use again in the future.

aloof gray joinedAfter this dried, we installed the chair rail. We gave the chair rail and beadboard two coats of white paint that we had leftover from painting other trim in our house. After cutting/painting some base molding and then quarter round to match the wood floors, we were all set! This entire project took us a weekend to do.

Keeping with the sailing/Annapolis area theme of the basement, I found two photos, one of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and another of the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse. It took a while to find frames that were a good match for the colors in the bathroom. I settled on these Threshold ones from Target:


I just needed a garbage pail and basket for toilet paper, and knew Homegoods was the place to find these. I settled on an antique looking wire basket with burlap lining for our toilet paper holder, and a natural basket for our garbage pail.

Here’s the final product:

P1030510new one P1030520


 before after

I’m very happy with how this mini transformation came out. It was not expensive, took little time to do, and was a huge improvement from the dark cave-like space it used to be.

Have any of you given a mini makeover to your spaces lately?



1 2 3