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One Room Challenge, The Reveal: Built In Bookcases

Hello and welcome to the last day of the One Room Challenge!
A great big huge thank you to Linda of Calling It Home, who created the ORC, in which 20 design bloggers completely makeover a room in six weeks. Linda also opens up the ORC to anyone who wants to join the challenge by becoming a linking participant (hi! That’s me.)  Since I’m a rule breaker, a rebel, (a wimp), once again I decided to focus on part of a room for the ORC. My challenge was to build a wall of bookcases in our living room – a room that has lacked an identity or purpose for the 4 years we’ve lived here.
I wanted to see if it was do-able for ONE person, a non professional with intermediate carpentry skills, to tackle this project and make it look like it wasn’t a DIY. And guess what – it is completely possible!!!
Our living room has been a room of castoffs and I could never really decide how best to use it. Here is a true before from the day we moved in….
…..and for the past few years it’s been kind of a blank canvas. (I made that armoire into a bar cabinet, something that has come in quite handy in the last six weeks!)
To create my dream library wall, I used a combination of Ikea Billy bookcases and a made-from-scratch custom sized bookcase; you can read more about the comparison in labor, quality and cost here. Then I built the four bookcases into the wall and tricked them out with all sorts of trim.
Keep in mind that this project is about 95% done. I still have a bit of painting to finish, and continue the baseboard and crown molding around the room, but I’m mostly done with this project and I did it almost entirely on my own. Here it is at the end of the One Room Challenge! Scroll down to see it filled in after a year or two.
My biggest challenges to this project were building the “bridge” over the doorway, and making the finish carpentry look professional.
It has taken me YEARS to figure out how to do things like miter the perfect corner, and I finally mastered it.
(See the trick I learned here!!)
I learned how to install a base and frame out a header, splice together trim so the seams are disguised and install crown molding. (I wrote about how to create a chair rail “return” if you’re interested.)
Before the wall of bookcases, I had never taken on a carpentry project this big on my own, and there was a lot to learn. It took me the whole six weeks just to build this but it has been so worth the time and labor! It’s CRAZY gratifying to create something with your own two hands!
Update – here are the bookcases filled to the brim with books….
Styling bookcases with lots of books and a few objects to break it up.
…..and more books!
Use large baskets to give weight to a bookcase when styling.
Check out this post of simple ways to style a bookcase…..
Five simple tips to take your bookcase from chaotic to cohesive!
Once I built this wall of bookcases in our living room, I had the courage to try tons more carpentry projects around our house, including making over our fireplace in our family and rebuilding the bookcases around it to change the style, modify the shelves, and add doors.
Styling fireplace bookcases with a color palette of blues, greens and white with a few natural elements.
I also hacked simple metal utility shelves into bookcases for my son’s room…..
An inexpensive bookcase using two metal utility shelves.
Thank you again to our fearless leader Linda of the One Room Challenge for inspiring me to be courageous and try something waaaaaay out of my comfort zone!!
Thanks also, so very much, to everyone who stopped by and commented here and on IG over the past six weeks. You kept the momentum going and made the ORC so much fun, and I am so appreciative of all your encouragement!
A huge congrats to my fellow ORC Challengers!! You made it!

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DIY built in wall of bookcases incorporating both Ikea Billy bookcases and custom made bookcases.
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Monday 19th of May 2014

OMG!! This is unbelievable! It's taking me 6 weeks to check out everyone's rooms and in the same amount of time you've professionally built the most beautiful bookcases I've ever seen! How gorgeous!! I would seriously sit and stare at them all day. Anyone who came to the door (even the postman) would get ushered in and told to look at these beauties. Enjoy and well done!

Linda {Calling it Home}

Wednesday 14th of May 2014

Thanks, but it was ALL YOU! Can we talk about things that others can't really appreciate....LOVE the miters and returns. I still need help with my returns (how weird are we?). I love this statement in your room. So, so, so good. Way to go.

Jessica Plattner

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

Wowza! I am so so impressed. I would have loved to have done this in my old home!

Shelia Dowd

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

Gold star! Top prize! These bookcases are timeless beauties!My favorite without question!

sarah sofia knepp

Tuesday 13th of May 2014

Lisa, I'm still in admiring all your handyman wood work! WOW, you put me to shame! I LOVE everything you've done! I will look for tips, and maybe, just maybe can pull something like this off. Bravo on a job well done! So fun participating in ORC with you!