old country house blog

BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES – TO DO OR NOT TO DO – BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES ?

OLD HOUSES ARE WONDERFUL

FABULOUS even… and for all of my complaining,(mostly to my husband), and saying that I want to live in a brand spanking new house….it remains that if I am just driving around, the houses that catch my eye are ALWAYS old oneS. With big front porches and maybe some columns and tin roofs…painted white…I guess it is in my blood.

THIS OLD HOUSE - FOR SALE FOR $0 Vacant since 2006, the house was bought in 2012 by the Trumbull County Land Bank, which is offering it for free to anyone with a plan—and the means—to restore the home in accordance with its guidelines.
THIS OLD HOUSE – FOR SALE FOR $0 Vacant since 2006, the house was bought in 2012 by the Trumbull County Land Bank, which is offering it for free to anyone with a plan—and the means—to restore the home in accordance with its guidelines.

That being said, OLD houses come with a whole myriad of issues….and it takes a very brave AND CREATIVE Soul ( Money doesn’t hurt either! )to undertake the updating and renovation of one. In my old country house we  have pretty much kept the basic structure of our house intact. We were lucky in that only one other family and ever lived in this house, EVER, in its’ 170 year life the property has always been in one family (the Shirley family) , that is ….until the DeVitos came to Country! The Shirley family had updated the kitchen in the 1960,s and by update my guess it that prior to that it was not a built i kitchen but more free-standing stove and countertops. When we updated the kitchen we kept the original floor plan because one thing you will learn very fast is that CHANGING plumbing and electrical is where your big money goes and the SECOND you start to tinker with moving walls and sinks…all those wonderful surprises pop up. You know the old saying..”If it ain’t  broke…don’t fix it!”???

Well,  they were most assuredly talking about OLD HOUSES.

HOUSE "ADDITION" BEFORE
HOUSE “ADDITION” BEFORE

For all the beauty and character and high ceilings and things I love about our old house…it is a widely known fact that back in the olden days…closets were almost non-existent. Free standing armoires were sufficient…you had your 5 pieces of clothing and that pretty much got you through the year. ESPECIALLY if you were a farmer/land owner, which is what the Shirley family was.

Enter the Devitios with all our crap and stuff and too many sneakers and boots and socks and times 5 people and we have always struggled a bit with storage. I have found solutions in dressers…minimum two per room…and 4 in the upstairs hall…and that has helped. We also invested in storage unit last year to relieve ourselves of all the stuff NOT in use…which will probably result in some huge yard sale ala “Storage Wars” some day….but I believe that you cannot do it all and I was happy to just get it all “outta my face!”

Which brings me around the bend –  to bookshelves . We are not HUGE book collector people, (not counting my 85 Art, Design and Decorating books) we don’t have tons and tons of gorgeous hardbacks, but we do have enough to warrant a better system. And last Christmas I scored this Amazing Vintage Britannica GREAT BOOKS –  52 SET COLLECTION (actually I bought the set for a client and Cooper fell in love with the books and now plans to read “every one!” and so I had to truck over to ebay and track down another awesome set for my clients house!

Our current living room bookcase USED to be in Phoebe's room, it is a Pottery Barn Kids one that I painted to try to make it look more grown up...but lets face it...it doesn't! Better than nothing...but just barely!
Our current living room bookcase USED to be in Phoebe’s room, it is a Pottery Barn Kids one that I painted to try to make it look more grown up…but lets face it…it doesn’t! Better than nothing…but just barely!

I have come up with threes ideas to solve this dilemma and maybe even  make a dent in the closet issue

  1. BUILD BOOKSHELVES MYSELF –
    THRIFTY DECOR CHICK HAS AN INCRDIBLE TUTORIAL, IT ACTUALLY SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING I COULD TACKLE UTILIZING PRE MADE KITCHEN CABINETS AND TOPPING THEM WITH SHELVES.
    THRIFTY DECOR CHICK HAS AN INCRDIBLE TUTORIAL, IT ACTUALLY SEEMS LIKE SOMETHING I COULD TACKLE UTILIZING PRE MADE KITCHEN CABINETS AND TOPPING THEM WITH SHELVES.

    I ALSO LIKE THIS ONE

    REMODELAHOLIC HAS A FANTISTIC STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL FOR CORNER BOOKSLVES WHICH CAN BE MODIFIED FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SPECIFICATIONS.
    REMODELAHOLIC HAS A FANTASTIC STEP BY STEP TUTORIAL FOR CORNER BOOKSHELVES WHICH CAN BE MODIFIED FOR YOUR PARTICULAR SPECIFICATIONS.

    A READER JUST SENT THIS IN FROM THE MAKERISTA AND I LOVE IT SO MUCH I AM ADDING IT TO THE ROUND UP  – KIND OF A HALFWAY MEETING POINT BETWEEN BUYING AND BUILDING!!!!

    THE MAKEISTA - I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE BOOKSHELVES AND THIS BLOG AND THE ADORABLE AUTHOR! HER TAG LINE IS " ... I'M MAKING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING...EXCEPT DINNER." SHE IS MY KIND OF GIRL!!!
    THE MAKERISTA – I AM IN LOVE WITH THESE BOOKSHELVES AND THIS BLOG AND THE ADORABLE AUTHOR! HER TAG LINE IS ” … I’M MAKING ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING…EXCEPT DINNER.” SHE IS MY KIND OF GIRL!!!

2. BUY BOOKSHELVES

I LOVE THESE WHITE LACQUER BOOKSHELVES FROM WEST ELM. THEY ARE 77″ TALL AND WOULD ADD A MODERN FEEL WHICH IS ALWAYS WELCOME. 

PARSONS TOWER FROM WEST ELMS
PARSONS TOWER FROM WEST ELM 77″ X 42″ $559 0N – SALE!!!!
HOME DEPOT - PARSONS SHELF - 66" X 30"
HOME DEPOT – PARSONS SHELF – 66″ X 30″
PARSONS BOOKSHELVES FROM WEST ELM IN EMILY HENDERSONS LIVING ROOM
PARSONS BOOKSHELVES FROM WEST ELM IN EMILY HENDERSON’S LIVING ROOM

3. (MY FAVORITE CHOICE) HAVE BOOKSHELVES BUILT IN

JENNA WALLIS
JENNA WALLIS
LITTLE GREEN NOTEBOOK, LIBRARY BOOKSHELVES
LITTLE GREEN NOTEBOOK, LIBRARY BOOKSHELVES BUILT BY CLASSY CLOSETS
BHG VIA PERFECTLY IMPERFECT BLOG
BHG VIA PERFECTLY IMPERFECT BLOG
SOUTHERN LIVING 2015 IDEA HOUSE
SOUTHERN LIVING 2015 IDEA HOUSE
DOMINO - MOLLY GOCHMAN
DOMINO – MOLLY GOCHMAN
THE PINK CLUTCH COLORFUL KITCHEN MAKEOVER
HI SUGARPLUM
HI SUGAR PLUM ONE ROOM CHALLENGE LIVINGROOM MAKEOVER
HI SUGAR PLUM ONE ROOM CHALLENGE LIVINGROOM MAKEOVER
home bunch - I want to do built in book case upstairs
home bunch – I want to do built in book-case upstairs

If I am 100% honest and not thinking about budget…I will always chose a beautiful set of built ins. They are classic and look totally at home in an old house. Do you have built ins? Did you do them yourself? Did they come tin your house?

these are some of my favorite!

I ADORE SITA MONTGOMERY! AND I AM NUTS ABOUT THESE SHELVES...THEY WOULD BE PERFECT IN OUR UPSTAIRS HALL...WE COULD REALLY USE THE CABINETS UNDERNEATH!!!
I ADORE SITA MONTGOMERY! AND I AM NUTS ABOUT THESE SHELVES…THEY WOULD BE PERFECT IN OUR UPSTAIRS HALL…WE COULD REALLY USE THE CABINETS UNDERNEATH!!!

one way or another we WILL have BOOKSHELVES before summer!! I intend to make it happen!!!

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13 thoughts on “BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES – TO DO OR NOT TO DO – BUILT-IN BOOKSHELVES ?

  1. I’m with you on this one, Lesli. Built-ins are the way to go, if your budget allows for them. Our 25 year old house came with some built-ins, and we have added more since we’ve been here. More in the study to match existing ones, and new ones in the master bedroom (there is NEVER enough storage, hidden and open shelving). We love them, and they add a very traditional yet practical look to a traditional style home.

    I would advise anyone thinking of adding ANY new built-in feature to a home to PLEASE make it match the original style of the home. Adding a very modern looking shelving system to a antique home would look very out-of-place, IMHO. And likewise, if you love Victorian style, but live in a mid-century ranch, please keep to a mid-century look on the built-ins. You can indulge in the furniture of your dreams, since it will move with you, but the built-ins are a part of the home, and should reflect its original style.

    1. Very good advice.Thank you! I do love the Ikea Hacks though where you save money by getting just the basic shelf pre made and then attach applicable molding and trim so it all flows smoothly.

  2. We have both: built-ins in a bedroom addition and free-standing at the knee wall in the loft (by way of LaDiff).
    My favorites are the built-ins, no question about it. And as a matter of fact, I realized just this week that those in the loft really need to be culled, again! And THAT, as you know, is the downfall of anything storage related.
    Good luck – can’t wait to see what you decide!

    1. Thank you Betty! The UPSIDE to limited storage capacity is that I purge fairly regularly. That being said, there is a hoarder collection of I don’t know what in the attic. I think I may have to hire out the cleaning out of it all, it stresses me out when I just go up there to retrieve a suitcase!

  3. Whether you build in or fake built ins with free standing bookcases that have been trimmed out to look built in, I say go with the cabinets at the bottom!! That is invaluable storage!! I have both and the rooms with cabinet bases are the best!!

  4. I am an unabashed hoarder of books and I refuse to apologize for it, lol! A home with no books just seems……lacking……to me. I love books, I love to read and ,while Kindles may be great, I just don’t like them. One of the happiest house days I ever had was the day I got to load my collection onto the built-in bookshelves my husband and I built. They were part of a remodeling we undertook (still ongoing). So, we had a bare wall, 16′ wide by 9 1/2′ high and I said to my husband “Wouldn’t a whole wall of bookshelves be awesome?” and he said “*#&%@+&#” and then he got over it and we spent 3 months designing, building and painting bookshelves! The Little Green Notebook shelves would be the ones that they are most like. We still haven’t found an affordable library ladder and haven’t put up the rail yet……sigh. We then built a corner fireplace……brick with a white mantle, surround and raised hearth. We had to use an electric insert but I finally got the fireplace that I’d dreamed about for years…..and my very own library! It’s the room everyone gravitates to and the room first time visitors comment on the most. And, aside from the master bathroom gut and remodel that we did, it’s the room my husband is proudest of.
    So, if you’re planning on staying put for a long time and can afford it, I’d say build them yourself and get exactly what you want. Tricked out Billy’s are nice but not as sturdy and building your own allows you to get an exact fit for your space.

  5. Hi Lesli – we, too, are very storage challenged living in a 1946 cape (storage below dormers do not = storage!). I had freestanding bookshelves on either side of a living room window. I thought they were great and held all of the books we needed….until I took a picture as we were giving them to a friend. Once I saw them in a photograph I couldn’t believe how messy, clumsy, and unorganized it looked with all of the open shelving. We went with custom built-ins (shelves above and cabinets below with assorted anthro knobs) and a built-in desk at the window to tie it all in. I am so, so happy we did it and it certainly added value to our house. We painted the back of the shelves a different color than the rest which was white dove by BM which broke up the white nicely. Built-ins are certainly worth it!
    Another thought is to have built in cabinets and floating shelves above (like your upstairs hallway perhaps?)
    Whatever you do will be fab I’m sure!
    Kathy
    p.s. can you write a post on how you paint a room? It seems like you paint fairly often and I’m curious to see your process which may speed mine up!

Thank you for visiting My Old Country House...I’d love to hear what you thinking. Let me know in the comments. And Have a great Day!