New Built-In Open Shelving in the Office

Well hello friends! Welcome back :)

I have one thing to say about progress on our home office renovation...

We. Have. Been. KILLING. It.

Would you like a preview? Oh yea, I know you do.

Home Office DIY Built-In Shelving

Brand new custom built in open shelving in the office. *swoon*

Can you even believe that this very same corner used to look like this??

Home Office Pre Reno

Me either! While we still have more items to work on (build floating desk, restore pedestal table, finish built in bench, hang wall art, buy permanent rugs and pillows, frame windows <---already done and post coming soon!), but we sure have come a long way!

Built-In Shelves

We absolutely love this built-from-scratch shelving system and it turned out better than I imagined (which is always an exciting result, isn’t it?). Building it was easy and the most time consuming part was painting all the boards (which sat around the house in various locations during the several month break we took…akkk!). I’m glad the boards are off my floors and on the walls where they were meant to be.

Let’s rewind back to the design process. One of the functions we needed out of the office was storage. Our 1950’s house doesn’t even have a linen closet, so I’m all for any place I can squeeze an extra inch of space to squirrel things away! To help achieve this, we planned to use decorative baskets in some of the 'cubbies' of the open shelving. I was concerned that we would build the shelving then have problems finding baskets to fit the arbitrary cubby sizes, so we bought baskets first and designed the shelving around them. Because you can do that when you DIY :)

Baskets from Bed Bath and Beyond and boxes from Target.

We bought eight baskets in two different designs (white from Bed, Bath and Beyond and brown from Target). The different textures and colors of the two basket types add depth and interest to the space. During the build process I was concerned that using eight baskets (over half the cubby space) would be too much. Now that I have seen the final product, I honestly love how they compliment each other and think they are the stars of the show! Here is the shelf design we settled on after purchasing baskets: 

Rudimentary, I know, but you get the point. The bottom and middle rows were designed to specifically fit the storage baskets, leaving the top row open for display. Side note - do you finally understand that random dark gray patch we pained on the wall? It will serve as the 'backing' of the shelving unit to distinguish it as its own piece. We planned our cuts on two pieces of ¾“ birch plywood.

Shelf Cuts

We custom cut each piece to size using our trusty guide board method in the absence of a table saw (some day my friends, some day).

We cut two outer vertical supports (15” x 51”), three shorter inner vertical supports (15” x 48”), one long top cap piece (15” x 66”), and eight small shelves (15” x 16”). Even though we don't have a table saw (yet...our big purchase for this project was the nail gun, and it was worth it) the pieces came out pretty uniform because we took our time measuring and setting up our guide. I then proceeded to paint these boards for months. No, the painting didn’t actually take months, but this step is where we took our prolonged pause. Oops.

06 Bare Boards.JPG

If I had done it right the first time, they would have received two coats of paint/primer, and two coats of semi-gloss, but I did a few extra coats after a slight fuzz-in-my-paint mishap. Pre-painting the boards delayed the construction, but it was much easier to paint prior to installation and touch up nail holes later.

We installed the first vertical support directly to the wall and made sure it was secure with tap cons (both walls here are exterior block walls) because everything would tie back to this piece. We then temporarily built the entire shelf unit to install shelf supports. To support the shelves, we used a strip of 1" x 2" which we cut to fit under both sides of the shelf and along the back. As we placed each vertical support, we temporarily held up shelves to mark the location of the supports. We installed the support pieces to the wall or it's respective vertical support, first with a nail gun, then with screws for solid support. We continued this process until we had installed all the shelf supports.

 Then we took it all down.

I really wanted to patch and paint every the nail and screw hole I could before final installation because I feel that it is so much easier that way. So we took it all down for a few days to putty the holes and put the final coats of paint on (nothing aside from the shelf supports were actually secured...the entire shelving system was free standing while we had it up for the support installation process).

After painting, the shelves went up so fast it was almost scary. Nail guns rock! We made some tiny adjustment cuts on the top shelf piece to make it fit perfectly and nailed ‘er in.

At this point we were stoked because this heap of boards were finally looking like shelves! I never bothered to paint the edges since they would be covered with trim, which had also been pre-painted to speed up installation. We cut each trim piece as we went to get the most accurate measurement in case there were minor variations (everything ended up being pretty spot on though).  

We tried to install the trim in a semi-logical order to avoid unnecessary joints. We attached the trim in the order of: far right vertical, top piece (wider to facilitate attachment of molding), the four remaining verticals, and finished with the horizontal shelf trim pieces.

The final item of the shelves was to install crown molding to match the existing crown in the room. The Engineer cut the molding to size and we nailed directly to the shelves at an arbitrary height that looked good to us. After installing the trim pieces and molding, we puttied all the nail holes, caulked every seam possible to give it a seamless finished look, gave it one last coat of paint, and loaded up our shelves!

DIY Open Shelving in the Office
Home Office DIY Built In Shelving

While we still have some organizing to do (like deciding exactly what will be stored in the baskets and labeling them), but we are SO happy with this open shelving installation. 

Excuse me while I step away to sit in the middle of the floor to gawk at the new shelves.

I’ll be back soon though because we framed the windows in the office and I can’t wait to show you how awesome they look! (Sneak peak in the photos in this post haha!)

Last, but certainly not least, this post participated a linkup party (#57!) hosted by five wonderful bloggers. You should check out the other great projects in the party and their inspiring blogs!

Designer Trapped in a Lawyer's BodyDIY on the CheapThe Heathered NestPretty Handy Girl | Table and Hearth