DIY Built In Bookcases With Bench Storage
Room Renovation: Office Week 3
It has been a crazy busy week at the Southern Yankee house. This week we completed the built-in bookcases/bench portion of the office room renovation project!
This was mine & Justin’s first REAL DIY build project together! In 5 years of marriage we have obviously painted & did little jobs together but nothing quite like this. I’ll admit going into it I had this picture of the two of us high fiving, singing Backstreet Boys songs, & maybe little woodland creatures coming in to hand us tools & watch us build because the atmosphere was so cohesive. Y’all we are so not that couple!
I know what you’re thinking (unless you’re my mom reading this because she knows the truth) the problem was probably, definitely him! It was not, turns out I’m a smidge of a control freak. I wouldn’t believe it either, except I was there. Thank God I married a man who has patience with me & knows how to handle my, shall we say, hyper moments. I did calm down after we had a come to Jesus moment where he explained, that even if everything didn’t go exactly according to my blueprint, we would find a way to make it work. We did, & I couldn’t be happier with the end product! We even high-fived a few times, sang to some Luke Combs, & woodland creatures are messy anyway so good riddance!
It took us two full days to complete the build and honestly I’m still painting. I know, I know I’m a slacker, but the building was the fun part and the caulking & painting not so much….. I pinky promise though that it will get done by the end of this week, no crossers count!
**Edit: We finished!! Hip Hip Horray!**
Originally during my office renovation planning, I thought I would try & do the Billy bookcase hack from IKEA. But then I got inspired by Grace’s MDF bookcase project on Nesting With Grace & decided I could do it too! I created my own cut list/blueprint on the new fancy Windows 10 paint thing.
I am obviously not a professional blueprint maker, but having this made the build a million times easier!
Now onto the built-in-bookcase-and-bench-building palooza!
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- 3/4 X 4 X 8 pieces of MDF (I used about 3 pieces)
- 2 X 4’s for the bench (the above plan gave us a little extra for wiggle room)
- (2) 30inch piano hinges
- Primer (oil-based)
- Paint (I had my original baseboard molding color matched)
- Caulk…. like a lot of it
- Wood Filler
- 1-1/2 Nails for a nail gun
- 2-1/2 Wood Screws
- Wood Adhesive
- Circular Saw
- Miter Saw
- Measuring Tape
- Speed Square
- Nail Gun
- Stud Finder
- We started by framing out the bench with the 2 X 4s. We made a large box the length (82in) & width (18in) of our bench. I also added an extra 1 X 4 pieces to brace the middle. This is when you will want to make sure everything is square before attaching it with the wood screws.
Next, we added (5) more 1 X 4s the height of our bench (17in).
- After that, we made an identical box minus the (17in) pieces & attached the two together with wood screws.
- Once the base was built, I used a stud finder to mark the wall where the studs were. Then, we attached the bench directly under the window using wood screws.
- After the bench base was up we got to work on the bookcases. We started by using the circular saw to cut (4) pieces of MDF 11in wide by 93in long. Our ceiling in the office is 8ft tall, but you want to leave room at the top to be able to stand the bookcase up after it’s assembled. We attached the first bookcase frame together by nailing in the first shelf, 7in from the bottom, using my handy dandy nail gun! Note: Yes for the briefest of moments we thought we could just make all our circular saw cuts in the office so we wouldn’t have to climb the stairs so much. This ladies & gentlemen was a very dumb idea & we quickly decided the extra cardio would be just fine if it meant we wouldn’t be buried alive in sawdust.
- After the first shelf was in, we used a 16in 2×4 to guide where the rest of the shelves would be placed. Remember to use the bubble level to ensure the shelves are straight. We attached all (5) shelves using the nail gun because I knew the distance between shelves would work for everything I want to place on them. I don’t like the look of the holes you have to have if you want the shelves to be adjustable. This is just preference though, you do you!
- Once the shelves were in we added (2) 1-1/2in strips of the MDF to the sides of the bookcase using wood glue & nails. This “trim” makes the bookcase look thicker & will help to make the shelves look built-in & fancy
- After you have the side trim in, measure the space between the two trim pieces for the length you need to cut for the shelf trim. We cut these pieces 1-1/2in wide and used wood blue & nails to attach them to the front of the shelves. This made the shelves look thicker & more custom.
- Once all the shelf & side trim was up we added (2) 7″ header pieces to the top & bottom of the bookshelf. We also added a 4″ piece to the back top of the bookshelf to give us a way to attach it to the wall.
- Finally, the bookcase was all framed up & ready to into place! I pre-cut the baseboard to accommodate the width of the bookcase so we were able to slip it in place easily. At this point, we did a high five & happy dance!
- Justin used the wood screws to attach the bookcase to the wall where I previously marked the studs.
- We followed those same exact steps for the other bookcase but we did end up with a 1-1/2″ gap on the side. I did not panic however because Shania Twain’s “Feel Like a Woman” was playing & I was feeling empowered. Plus it was an easy fix, we just cut another piece of MDF 1-1/2in thick & 93in tall to fit the gap. We screwed (2) pieces of 2X4 to the wall from inside the bookcase to give the MDF something to be nailed into. Caulk will make it all look like 1 piece later.
The two bookcases were up & it was time to trim out the bench!
- We cut (1) MDF piece the length & height plus 1inch (17in + 1in=18in) for the front of the MDF. Then, we cut (2) side pieces the same height as the front.
- Next, we added another 2X4 to the back of the bench to give the top something to sit on. We attached a 2in a strip of MDF to the back 2X4 for the piano hinges to sit on.
- Then, we cut the lid to the length and width of the top of the bench. We attached the piano hinges to the back MDF piece & to the lid.
- We also added trim pieces to the front of the bench. The pieces are 3in wide and attached with wood glue & finishing nails. They give the bench some dimension & create a finished look I love! (I forgot to snap a photo of it before we primed it.)
- Next, we moved onto the molding that connects the bookcases to the ceiling. I had some leftover wood from my Fancy Window Trim Project that I thought would work perfectly! I clamped a 1X2 piece & 1X4 piece together & used the nail gun to attach them. After I attached the two pieces together I used the nail gun to attach them to the bookcase & ceiling. ***I went with this kind of molding because it matched the chunky window trim that I added in week 2 & if you have leftover wood I say use it!***
- Finally, it was time for my favorite part of every project, (that is an absolute lie, sorry) CAULKING! I don’t love caulking but I do love that it can fix almost anything. This project, in particular, had so much caulking & nail hole filing that I started to get delirious & sing “caulk it like it’s hot, caulk it like its hot.” I’m sure that remix will be on Snoop Dogg’s next album.
- After you caulk & fill you will want to prime the MDF. If you are anything like me you probably already made a mental note to skip this step but it is extremely important for this project!! The MDF needs to be primed with an OIL-based primer or else when you paint with your water-based paint the MDF will expand & look funky. If that happens I don’t think even Shania Twain will be able to fix ya.
- Once everything was completely primed, I did a light sanding & started painting everything!
Here is the To-Do List so far:
Built-in bookcases & bench around the windows
- New light fixture
Paint file cabinet (ill show you this in week 4!) DIY canvas art
- Repurpose old trunk into storage
- Closet shelving/organization
Paint the walls
- Command center with calendar/whiteboard/file holder etc
- Reupholster hot pink chair seat
- DIY dry erase board & frame
- Bench cushion (the fabric is in!)