Built-in Bookcases; Living Room Update 5


Living Room Update 5: 
Built-in Bookcases…
By Remodelaholic
If you wanna read about our current project 

Sorry about missing the living room post last week.   I am getting the hang of this two child thing… sorta, tired yes, but at least for the next week or two I have an infant that sleeps all day so it isn’t too much harder. YET…, thank heaven for easing into the transition.

Anyway, so I left you hanging a bit about my sudden design change and request for some built-in bookcase,s in our living room.  I told you how the space is a walk through to get to the kitchen and because of this traffic pattern, it naturally separates the room into two areas.   Which means, we had to figure out a way to fix this a bit.

I should explain, this space is not our “family” room.  Yes, we have a box of toys and plenty of board books to read, but this space is not our room to really entertain or hang out, that space is upstairs.  We don’t actually have a T.V. in this room at all either (although I am considering a small portable version for desperate moments)… we don’t watch T.V. on a regular basis, I just don’t have time (exception to rule: Biggest Loser, but sometimes we catch up on this one online too!).   If I need a distraction (think making dinner) for the littlmeisje, I bring in the portable player so that I can get things done while Etta stays busy dancing to the Barbie movies…  This means that we are setting the room up for conversation, not around a TV screen.

On with the plans then, we have two awkward corners in our living room, as shown below with the large arrows, the long lines are the basic traffic patterns for the space.

The diagonal corner makes no sense, I think there must be plumbing running through that space, cuz there is no other reason for it to be diagonal like that.  Ugh!
The opposite corner by the stairs is cut off from the other space because of the way we have to pass through the room.  There is hardly a way to use the space.  A small sitting ares is about all, and I have tried this in the past with no success.  The problem is the space is too small that it just doesn’t fit well, even with a single chair. I started drawing up options for the built in for the corner by the stairs first as a solution to the space planning issues.
Below is what the space would look like with the columns finished, (they were installed but not trimmed out yet.) So I drew the moldings in and the copied the image a  few times to draw on it:
Here are the two options I was debating on:
A 2/3 height built in, would allow for a T.V. on top if ever wanted.  Would fill the space nicely and give you some pretty storage.
Full height, uses up the whole space and adds a ton of storage space.

I admit, I liked both ideas, but I loved the full height idea, especially since it brings your eye up and we only have 8 foot tall ceilings in this space and could use the illusion of height.
At this point, I also thought, “Well, since we are adding that corner bookshelf, maybe we can cover up the other strange little diagonal corner on the other side of the room and make it look intentional.”
Here is the back wall you might notice the diagonal wall section pointed out:
The space is not quite centered, we had to fudge a little to make it appear equal.  I added the look of the upgraded door casings that we were planning on too.
This option includes a window seat, which I will admit we haven’t built yet, and technically I am still debating on adding it at all.  I think I am pretty sure we will do it at some point though… I think…
Do you want to see how it all came together? I guess I will show you anyway… (Sorry in advance for all the semi-awful pictures, depending on the time of day and lighting the pictures are either okay or awful, and very few are true to color, but you’ll get the idea, right?)
I will start with the window wall, and take you through that part first.  In order to save some time and money we decided to make it fixed shelving just FYI.  If you have other questions let me know in the comments, otherwise you can just see how the room came together through pictures.
Here is the back wall before starting on the shelves.
We lived with this mess for at least 1 week…it was worth it!

Now we needed to add some crown molding.  We painted it all with several cots BEFORE cutting and nailing.  I also painted the edges of the ceiling where the crown would be installed.  Then we had very little touch up painting to do and no hard edges to paint… This is good advice (even if I do say so myself), we have done it in every house we’ve owned, it saves a lot of sore muscles and kinked necks I promise!

Here is the before, no paint or moldings:

You can see the ceiling color ends in the middle of the room.  (this is the same color we used in our Asheville house ceilings and I LOVE it I will have to find the name….sorry)

Here is the full height corner bookcase without moldings… 
 Installing the moldings…

Partially done moldings… there is a whole ‘nother layer of moldings we added below these to make the crown appear larger like we did in our first house 9 years ago.  But it is almost 11:00 an I NEED to sleep.

 Okay, until next week…
What do you think of the built-in bookcases?
How do you like the moldings?  the columns and wainscoting?
I’d love to hear what you think!

Meet the Author: Cassity

Cassity started Remodelaholic with her husband, Justin, to share their love for knocking out walls together. She is an interior designer, wife, and mother of two. She and Justin have remodeled three Read More


  1. Suki says

    >This is an amazing transformation to watch! Each step looks great and then you add something else that helps to finish it more like that crown molding. I love the full length bookshelves. It seems to help keep the feel of the room together with the other full length shelves and the crown molding crossing it all.

  2. Tricia says

    >Love, love, love it!! The built-ins are great and I really like the full length one. I've really enjoyed watching this transformation. It looks like a completely different house! The moldings are phenomenal!


    >I love how it's all coming together. I would have also chosen the full height bookcase built-in for the corner against the kitchen, storage space is always a plus!

  4. laxsupermom says

    >Love the built-ins! All the molding details look wonderful. I vote yes on the window seat. I see that as being such a cozy place to read. Plus you can store the unsightly toys in the bench portion of the window seat. I've loved reading along with this whole series. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Celeste Lux says

    >I LOVE your molding and trim project. Very upscale and a huge improvement in my opinion. I have been bookmarking your posts as I intend to copy you all over my house :) Thanks for sharing this wonderful project!

  6. Paige (Final Clothes-Out) says

    >These look great! And you totally give me hope that I can build my own, too. It's not as bad as I thought!

  7. alimoll says

    >I think the built ins are looking FABULOUS! The whole room looks custom and AWESOME! I can't wait to see the finished room!

  8. Jennifer Beard says

    >I love it!!! I love the choice of going with the tall shelves! And the crown molding ties it all together! Beautiful!
    Jennifer B.

  9. jbr says

    >It looks great. I love watching you arrange your furniture to get it to the right spot–the bookshelves are perfect.

  10. Rachelle @ Adventures in Creating says

    >Wow it looks awesome! I wish I was handy with wood like you guys are. Great job!

  11. Allison @ House of Hepworths says

    >OMG I'm dying. This is fabulous! I want that in my house! I'm wanting to build columns in my house and have been studying your posts to figure out how to do it here. Yours are amazing. Hey, I know! Y'all should come to Austin and your DH and my DH can build the columns while we play!

  12. Just The Details...of Jenn says

    >Looks fantastic!!! Love that you chose the floor to ceiling bookcase! Can you come over to my house and do built ins for me? haha.

  13. Kelsey says

    >I am so in love with all these built-ins and moldings and everything! It looks so good! I just recently priced out some built-in bookshelves on one wall (very basic I thought) and received quotes of over $6000!!! You are so lucky to have those skills and talents. And to be married to them as well;). Hope things are going well with your sweet little girls.

  14. theeclecticlife says

    >Yayyyy! I'm so glad I discovered your blog. You have a new follower.

    I LOVE built-ins, I LOVE your drawings and how they ultimately turned out and I am so very impressed. Great job! Can't wait to see the shelves styled with books and assorted home decor.

  15. Kat from California says

    >I only have one child and had a hard time getting stuff done the first 18 months. She wouldn't nap and she walked at 9-10 mo, but I got to sleep through the night. How old is your little girl? she's so cute!!!

    I think everything looks great. I've always wanted a window seat with two shelves on the sides. You are so lucky that you and your husband know how to do this type of work and are able to do it.

    How do you created your photo/drawing pictures? They are sooo cool!


  16. Our Little Beehive says

    >Absolutely love it! What a difference it all makes; I'm so impressed. And I'd definitely do the window seat, I always wanted one as a kid. If you gave it a hinged top you could use it for toy storage (or grown-up storage).

  17. Jodi says

    >Really?! I am amazed at all you're getting done with having a toddler and now a newborn.Its looking great! Can't wait to see the final project.

  18. Laree says

    >love, love, love, L.O.V.E this!

    Your house is going to look like a million bucks when it's all done!

  19. Angie says

    >Fantastic craftsmanship!!! It's great that you went all the way to the ceiling. It makes your room super high end. I still vote for the window seat, however! 😉

  20. Fawn says

    >A question I forgot to ask…. How much have you spent approx. for the mouldings and such? just so I have an idea on the costs involved…

  21. Remodelaholic says

    >Hey Fawn, I don't have exact totals… I will have to work that out, but all told the project for moldings and such was not more that 400-500 dollars.

    One way we saved money was cutting 4 x 8 boards down instead of buying a lot of precut mdf moldings… I will try to get this all figured out and put it in one of the final posts!

    (tip** don't buy your moldings from a Home Depot or Lowes type store. Go TO A LUMBER YARD! They may look at you very strange and think you know nothing when you drive up in a minivan 8 months pregnant with an 18 month in tow, but it is worth the savings!)

  22. House Revivals says

    >I love everything you guys are doing! Wonderful! And so nice to see some hand drawn elevations — love, love that!

  23. Carrie says

    >This looks so incredibly high end and definitely gives the room that "Wow" factor! Impressive DIY. How long did this project take to complete?

  24. Gillian says

    This looks fabulous, I am considering doing (not myself) a similar project for a corner library, but I do want to load it up with books. Wouldn’t you need to add supports for the “L” shelves to hold up with out sagging in that case and how would you do it without ruining the look?

    • says


      The shelves are not adjustable and the back is all supported and nailed into a 1 x 2. The front of the shelf also has a 1 x 2 attached this adds additional strength. We had our LOADED with books for 2 years without a single problem.

      But the worry is that if the width is too much on either side you wouldn’t have the support you need. You need to consider that. It you are still concerned you could do some “L” brackets that you hide with a backing board, or just paint the color of the back wall… you can get a metal L bracket at your local home store.

  25. Megan says

    I’m dying to know how you build your corner bookcase! It’s so cute! How do make sure it was stable without extra brakets?

  26. Geoffrey says

    How did you support the corner shelves? They look like they’re floating and they’re beautiful. I’d be worried about sagging. Any tips?

    • says

      Geoffrey, I nailed shelf supports to the wall under the shelves to support them. They actually hold up really well loaded with books. I am in the process of making plans of how I built them coming soon. Great comment though.

  27. Jennifer says

    OMG I love this!!! We have a totally dead corner space in our living room and I so want to do this!!! Can I get more info from you (if you will let me pick your brain), like what materials to use, etc.?

  28. Ryan says

    Thanks for the insight on built-ins! This site is awesome–can’t wait to go back through and read all your posts!

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