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