Monday, January 27, 2014

How To Make An In-Wall Bookshelf a-la IKEA



Big Hole in the Wall IKEA Bookshelf Nice In-Wall Bookshelf


When we bought our first house, the basement was "finished". Kind of. For whatever reason, when it was built they never got around to finishing the part around the water main shut-off valve. Instead of using one of those little access panels that mount directly on the Sheetrock, they decided to allow complete access to the valve by installing an accordion door (see picture above, complete with accordion door still in packaging).

After years of looking at that eyesore, we finally decided to fix it. At first, the plan was to install the dang accordion door as someone had originally designed. However, at this point we were starting to get short on storage space and it seemed a shame to lose that extra area that had been framed in for the foundation and water valve. Plus, I loathe accordion doors.

Then we ran into this picture we saw in a kid's decorating book we found on clearance at Barnes & Noble:

"The Kidspace Idea Book" by Wendy Adler Jordan, pg 127
That was the perfect idea for our DVD collection! Now that we have moved away from that house, I guess I better finally finish this post!


Given my limited carpentry skills, I decided that I didn't want to build the shelves myself. That way, I could leverage off an adjustable shelf system in case we decided to use the shelves for books or something other than DVDs. After determining how much room I had, I settled on the IKEA Billy bookshelf. It was cheap, relatively close to the dimensions I needed, and had all of the adjustability I wanted. However, (and this is a note to self as well), in the end, I think building the shelves myself would have been faster. Had the depth worked out as is, it would have been ideal. However, I had to do a lot of ripping to cut down on the depth of the bookshelf to get it to fit all the way into the wall. Not only that, because of the width of the shelf adjustment holes, I reached a point where I could not make the depth any smaller, so I had to router out channels in the trim to make up the remaining depth. More on that below.


So, here is the bill of materials that I started with. 

Pic Qty Description
1 IKEA White BILLY Bookcase (WxDxH: ~16"x11"x80")
2 IKEA White Extra Shelf for BILLY Bookcase
2 EverTrue Unfinished Whitewood Rosette Block
2 EverTrue Unfinished Whitewood Plinth Block
2 EverTrue Raw Whitewood Star Ornament
1 2-1-2'' Forstner Bit
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x4x8'
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x4x4'
Select Pine Softwood Board - 1x6x4'
1 Bosch 1/2-in Carbide Tipped Router Bit

After I bought the bookshelf, I penciled in my design so I would know what I was working towards.

I started by framing in where the bookshelf was going to mount.

Make sure you have plenty of room to access the shut-off valve!

Next I had to assemble the shelf and mount it into the frame I had just roughed for it.

Notice how I had to rip the edges off the front and back of the shelf frame to decrease the depth as much possible. I didn't dare get any closer to the shelf holes for fear they would break. After mounting the shelf, it ended up sticking out of the wall about 5/8", so I decided to find trim that was thick enough to router out channels to cover it up. Also note that I didn't want to take off the nice finish on the front of the shelves, so I only cut the back off the shelves (took the same off the back of the shelves as I did off the back of the frame--that way the holes still line up for the shelves). I was hoping it would look alright to have the shelves stick out a bit farther than the frame.

After securing the shelves, I patched the rest of the hole with Sheetrock and began the tedious task of mudding.

After finishing the sheetrock, I was ready to start with the trim. 

To cover the part of the shelf frame that was sticking out past the surface of the wall, I needed to router a channel 5/8" deep by 3/4" wide on the back of the trim. The router bit I had was only 1/2" wide, so I had to router 2 back-to-back channels, denoted by 1 and 2 below. 3, 4, and 5 marked the decorative grooves that I wanted to router in the front of the trim.

Since I found rosette blocks for the top corners of the shelf, I wanted to match it with rosettes in the plinth blocks at the bottom corners of the shelf. I found perfect matches for the rosettes and the drill size of the hole that the rosettes were recessed in (see parts list above). I thought it looked nice and was worth the effort!

Here is the finished trim around the bookshelf. Notice I had to buy wider trim for the bottom to match the height of the lowest shelf. By the way, I didn't really like how the shelves stuck out so sharply from the trim. So I cut the edges off the shelves at 45 degree angles and it looked much better! See subsequent pictures of the shelves and you'll notice the notches off the corners.

Now I was ready to prime. I think it was more trouble than it was worth, but I bought the kind of primer in aerosol cans. There is not much primer in those cans and that cost a lot more than it should have.

Before I could finish the paint, I had to put up new bead board and trim around the perimeter of the room. Then we were ready to paint!

A bit of paint and voila! Much better than an accordian door!

Perfect size shelves for DVDs and Blu-Rays.

And don't forget the reason for all the commotion. I used some of the wider left-over bottom trim to make the access door to the shut-off valve. It was a bit thick, so I had to have a friend plane it down some, then I did a decorative router around the edge. Much cheaper than cabinet doors. 

Let us know if you have any questions! All-in-all, a fun cabinetry exercise.