DIY Stairwell Bookcase (from reclaimed wood!)

Before I do anything else, I want to remind you to enter this fabulous giveaway going on right now.  You can win a gorgeous, personalized, painted sign…  It ends Sunday!

This might be my favorite random-yet-brilliant idea so far, especially given that we only had to buy one sheet of 1/4″ plywood for the whole project…  Either that or I’m just having way too much fun photographing things in my new attic space – between the skylight and the whitewashed planked ceiling, it’s a photographer’s dream. 😉  But on to today’s project: a bookcase in the stairwell.

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

The staircase to our attic (which was already in place when we bought the house – hence the logic of building out our attic as living space) is pretty steep and narrow, much more so than most of my staircase inspiration favorites.  And due to the slope of the roof, there was not enough space to the right of the staircase to actually use.  However, I was determined not to close the space in completely, fearing it would feel claustrophobic.  So rather than sheetrocking both sides of the stairwell all the way up (the left side is our closet, so it had to be closed in), I thought a little bookcase would fit perfectly in that 3′ space and even provide a little hidden storage behind it.

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

Even better, we had a bunch of old lumber in the attic that we used to build the frame and top.  We simply drew our geometric design, measured and cut our wood 1/2″ longer than each piece should be, put 1/4″ notches in the wood to fit the shelves together, glued and screwed, and added 1/4″ plywood to the back.

Then we primed, caulked, and painted, and painted, and painted, and painted.  Seriously.  The only problem with old, aged wood (mostly cedar) is that it was sucking up the paint like crazy!  In retrospect, I wish we had done at least two coats of primer, but hindsight is usually 20-20, right?

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

As you can see, we did leave one board natural.  In preparation, we merely sanded (a lot!) and stained with Rustoleum’s Kona (which I already had on hand).  I love the contrast with the white shelves.

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

It’s obviously much darker than the other wood tones in the room, but I wanted that.  I didn’t want the red color of the cedar (that’s just not my thing), and the dark brown covered that nicely.  Plus, as the only really dark piece in the room, it draws attention to its rustic lines and beautiful veins.

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

We finished it off with baseboards (to match the room) layered above an additional piece of 1×8 to cover the transition to the sheetrock.  Details like that make all the difference with built-in bookcases (and don’t worry, this one is secured to the subfloor and the walls.. no little ones will be pushing it over!).

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

Decorating it was fun, too.  Eventually, I’d like more books, but this was a shop-the-house-quickly because some of our best friends were coming to stay for a week and we just installed the bookcase the night before they arrived.  Nothing like the last minute!

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

Not to mention the hilarious awkward process of trying to place things on hard-t0-reach shelves when you’re 8 months pregnant…  Don’t worry, I called in reinforcements, as needed. 😉

White painted mason jars on a white shelf... lovely!

I do think my DIY log chalkboard will remain, though, as this is our rustic guest room… a little welcome sign seems appropriate.

DIY log slice chalkboard at www.maisondepax.com

And that’s it.  It was a TON of work (much more than we expected… but maybe that’s just because it was the last big project of the attic and we were dragging by that time!), but I’m SO happy with it.  I imagine my kids going up to the attic nooks to read and choosing their books from the shelf along the way… Does it get any better?

A DIY stairwell bookcase provides a creative and beautiful way to open the space and bring light into the stairwell.  Click through to see details and instructions!

Did you enjoy that?

Have my best tips on home decor, DIY, and life delivered directly to your inbox.

Powered by ConvertKit

Comments

  1. its lovely. Using the reclaimed wood is inspired too. A great addition to your space. Hugs

  2. Just love it! Thanks for sharing with us.

  3. Beautiful Rachel! Such a fantastic space!!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Oh thank you so much, Ashley! It’s still got so far to go, but we are enjoying it thoroughly!! :)

  4. I love it so much!! Perfection, the wood top and white! Beautiful!

  5. I love it, what a fabulous use of space. It really looks amazing and any storage is a blessing. Thanks tons for linking to Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  6. Okay, I just think this is genius, for realz:) WOW…how cute is that? But so functional….I am pinning this now. love it. Thanks for sharing. found this at workitwed. Have a great week!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thank you SO much! I’m so glad you like it… We have loved it, too – so much better than a skinny staircase with sheetrock on both sides. :) Thank you for stopping by!!

  7. This is SO smart, Rachel! I love the one dark-stained piece on top… such a beautiful accent! And for just shopping your house, you styled the heck outta this!!

    • Rachel Paxton says:

      Thanks, Emily! Now I just have to fill the naked spaces I left in other rooms. 😉 So glad you like the bookshelf!

Trackbacks

  1. […] When Rachel was finishing her attic, she had a dilemma:  what to do with the odd space adjacent to her narrow attic stairwell?  She decided that a set of shelves would create visual interest while maintaining the open feeling the small space needed, and blogged about the project at Maison de Pax. […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *