The Case of the Many Books

One day, a solution presented itself to me. My problem – our problem – was how to best utilize all the extra space we now had. Mind you, it’s a one bedroom apartment. But there’s a formal dining room – prime pre-war feature. At first, all I had in my dining-room-in-my-head was a dining-table-in-my-head. That left everything else –  office space, book cases, tv, plants, and furniture – to be stuffed into the living room. That’s non-sense. The solution was simple: Put the storage in the dining room. We have no kitchen cabinets, so we got a dining hutch for all our plates and baking kit and whatnots and now we have that massive piece of furniture in the dining room, too. It works a treat.

Then we decided to put all our books in the dining room as well. How could I have forgotten my life-long dream of eating next to my books? Well, I say life-long… It’s really only been as long I’ve been wanting to be Nigella Lawson.

Research ensued. What kind of shelving. Custom built? That seemed the only way to get shelving in the room. There are no bookcases on earth that could stand flush and secure against our walls because our baseboards are 15 inches high and stick out about 3/4″ from the wall.  Well, I say none on earth… at least not at ikea or any of the other affordable furniture stores we checked out. But custom built shelves were going to be too expensive. Carpenters I contacted all quoted around $750 – $950 per 4X8 bookcase. Say what??

(Check out the image board to see what, roughly, we are aiming for. )

So this is what we ended up doing: We customized the Ikea. We got some Billys – yes, those Billys. Don’t judge. – And we simply jigsawed the backs. We continued the line of the prefabricated cut in the back where Ikea tries to accomodate about 3 inches of baseboard. We four Billy bookcases, which we arranged in an L formation to fill one corner of the room. We secured the bookcases to each other with L Brackets and bolt screws, rather than drilling them to the wall. We also added the Billy height extender, which added another foot. PicMonkey Collage_billy

All in all, not bad. We removed the cardboard backing to keep the wall visible behind the contents of the shelves. I think it gives the whole thing a bit of a custom built look. I can’t tell you what a joy it was to finally unpack our poor, squashed, box-bound books! It was a party, I tell you!

PicMonkey Collage_bookcases2

And here it is. I love, love, love the way the room looks now. It’s so cozy and and inviting and relaxed and yet very grown up and adult about the whole thing.


We had it arranged like that photo above for a while. But then we decided to reclaim the bedroom – previously the only room where we slept and lounged. But we had house guests from abroad in February and we had to give them someplace to relax that wasn’t our bedroom So we rearranged a bit and put the sofa in the dining room. It works for now, while we’re working on the living room (yes, paint stripping has resumed. Oh joy of joys.). Frankly I don’t know what we’ll do with that extra room when we’re done. With this configuration (bedroom, kitchen, dining/living room, and oh yes, one long-ass hallway) we have all the space we need! That is, until we really finish the other room and we can finally, finally start thinking about living room furniture. 🙂




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