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Friday, January 15, 2016

Best designs tips to build a bookshelf or built in wall unit, 6 must read tips!

A bookshelf can look amazing, if you plan well before you build it. A built in bookcase is often in a room you spend a lot of time in, so you'll want to enjoy looking at them! There are several things that people tell us they love, each of which has to be done before you start construction.  

Before doing photos shoots with magazines, we used to ask ourselves, what if they point the camera towards the built in cabinets? Is that wall unit up to par? Or what if they zoom in on the bookshelves? Does it look artistic and fresh? Or does it look like an after thought? 

Here's 6 tips for construction of built in shelving or book cases so you'll get the look you want!

1) Add electrical wiring for lights!
Now is the time, it's much easier to do now than after the built ins are finshed. Base the location of the wiring on the location of the bookcase lights, either a or b. 
 a) Inside mount. meaning recessed can lights with glass shelves which allow the light to shine all the way down to the bottom shelf.  
b) Outside mount, per the photo. Notice the lights above the bookcase. 


2) Build the bookcase or built in shelving around an interior door, window or french doors. 

Notice how this surround shelving blends into the architecture? It looks as if it was always there.  If you don't have a good spot to build a surround with windows or doorways, consider a "niche surround" for your sofa, like this photo. 


bookcase surrounding the sofa, this creates a cozy niche for the sofa 

BEFORE below

2) Remove some shelves!!

People normally put far too many shelves, more than they need. Unless you have a LOT of books, you can probably cut your first thought for shelves in half! Notice above, we left larger openings between shelves....so larger, higher quality accessories can be on display. Perhaps your built in bookcases were already built? If the builder left lots of shelves, you certainly don't have to keep it that way. By removing shelves you open up possibilities for larger items!

Darker paint on the back wall of this bookcase helped tremendously!
It's much warmer than a big stark white bookshelf!
4) Paint the background of your wall unit a darker color! (see above)

5) Put wallpaper or mercury mirrors on the back of your built in shelves.

We've done this inside the back wall of a hutch, a breakfront, and other furniture that felt too dark. It's a great way to fix a piece of furniture when you aren't willing to paint over that expensive wood! You can inserted upholstered thin boards, which can be removed.

6) Go floor to ceiling, instead of doors on the bottom half. 

This is helpful if you have lots of books. If you plan to put hundreds of books in your built in shelving, it's nice when the shelving surrounds a door, window, or niche for other furniture, like in the photo below.  No matter what you put in the shelves this room would be beautiful!

Built in shelves with books on display look great next to this bay window and baby grand piano
Bookshelves and built in shelving units can be pretty, or they can be an eye sore. Take a photo of your wall and and make several copies to sketch patterns - if you prefer to avoid a CAD program. Or, enlist a professional plan from your woodworker or designer. Your bookshelf may need a different color paint on the back wall, it may need less shelves than you originally thought, or it may need to be on a wall that allows you to wrap it around a door or window. Have fun with your built in plan, and make sure you love the style before you build it!

Have a tip of your own? Click the word "comment" below!

3 comments:

Valerie Peterkin said...

I HATE tons of little nic nacs!
You saved me from almost making the mistake of having the carpenter put too many shelves.
We narrowed it down from 5 shelves to 3 shelves, thank you!

Allison Craven said...

We already built our book shelves, the electrician quote was VERY pricey to add wiring at this point. I wish I hadn’t listed to the Contractor who didn’t want to stop the process, saying you can always add that later. I’d love some mood lighting while entertaining!!

Nasrin banu said...

Excellent post. Thanks for sharing such a useful post.

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