I started to write this post, and then realized it was going to be really wordy. Even more wordy than my usual wordy. So I decided to split it into 3 or so posts. Yes, they’re done, and I can’t wait to tell you about them because I’m SO proud of myself, but you’re going to have to wait. Sorry!
For this room, just like every room in the house, I wanted to expand the storage capabilities to something that was custom for how our family used the space. This area is where I work on my blog, store all of my craft supplies & where guests sleep. We don’t have too many guests, and we like it that way, so we really wanted to make sure this space was usable for us. It will mainly function as a craft space/my office.
When we bought the house, there were built ins along the Southern Wall, or the wall to the left when you walked in the door. The window is on the West wall. The window looks out on to the creek, and the view is really pretty. That’s a huge focal point, so I always thought it was strange that the built ins were on a competing wall.
The other problem I had with this room was those built ins were really small. The shelving was about 11″ deep, so my scrapbooks and larger items were hanging off the shelves. The little desk was way too tiny for anything. Plus, all of that oak. Yuck! The previous built ins were about 8′ tall, and the ceilings in here are 10′. They were a lot of storage that didn’t store much. The whole room felt very long with the built ins running along a longer wall, and very tall, since the ceilings were so tall. It was weird.
So, my plan was to fix all of that.
I decided that the best way to orient the room was to build storage on the window wall. That would combine the focal points of the built ins and the window, plus it would pull out that window wall to shrink the long walls and make the room more square shaped.
I like to make the most of vertical space for storage, so I knew I wanted to build something that went to the ceiling, and I knew I wanted it white to brighten up the navy wall. I also wanted to add crown molding around the entire room to try and visually bring the ceiling down a little bit.
I drew this sketch one rainy day last year. This was basically the plan. Now was time to turn it into a reality! The only issue was, I’ve never done anything like this before. I was super intimidated. I had the tools, I’m OCD enough to keep everything level, but keeping things square and getting it to turn out how I could see it in my head, like a pro had done it, was really scary.
I thought about hiring it out a few times. Then I looked at my budget and said “Screw it. Let’s build it.”
The basic plans were two 15″ deep bookshelf towers sitting on top of the cabinet counter tops that go from the outside wall to the windowsill (about 31″ wide), plus a 12″ deep shelf spanning the space between the two towers above the curtain rod. I measured all of the stuff I wanted to put on these shelves and decided that would be the best configuration. 15″ would give the scrapbooks plenty of room to be fully stored on the shelf and not hanging off. The 12″ deep shelves in the middle would be great for smaller things, like books, and I liked the visual interest of having the crown molding get inset a bit across the middle.
I knew I didn’t want to paint the backs of the shelves. Plus I really suck at brad nailing shelf backs. I ALWAYS miss. ALWAYS (see this post for evidence). I wanted the navy paint to show through, because I like white accents, and I think it makes the items on the shelves pop. So I just left the backs as textured drywall.
I wanted to have 5 shelf boxes in each tower, with the bottom boxes being taller than the top. I also wanted the top tower shelves to be exactly the same as the center. The space between the countertop & the ceiling was about 84″, and the space above the curtain rod to the ceiling was about 24″. Lots of calculating!
Before purchasing my materials, I went through and figured out exactly how much of everything I would need. We built the whole thing out of 4 sheets of MDF, 12 whitewood 1x2x8s, 1 sheet of 1/4″ plywood (plus some scrap I already had on hand), and12 8′ boards of 1×3 poplar trim, plus 2 different types of crown molding.
When we went to purchase the materials, I had Lowe’s cut down all of the sheets of MDF into full-length strips the exact width that I would need. I had figured out exactly how to arrange the cuts to use the least amount of sheets of MDF as possible. The saw at Lowe’s makes it easy, since we only have a circular saw at our disposal. Doug was grateful to spend the extra 20 minutes to get all of these cuts done for us. It would have taken him all day.
I didn’t worry about the lengths, because we could easily cut down the strips to exactly what we needed later. We use this circular saw.
With all of the strips cut, I did something that I normally don’t do: I primed & painted everything first. This was the single best decision I made during the entire project. It is so much easier to prime & paint the strips of wood in the garage (even in the Texas heat) than it is to paint them all assembled. I highly recommend it!
I just laid out each strip in the garage on my Painter’s Pyramids, and rolled everything with a 6″ cabinet roller. It was super easy. I was able to lightly sand, wipe off, & prime fairly quickly. The primer dries fast in the hot Texas Summer, so I was able to lightly sand that, clean it off, and get one coat of paint on each strip on the same day that I primed.
I thought I had taken a picture of the boards in the garage, but I guess I didn’t. Just picture my parking space lined with strips of mdf. There you go.
I used Benjamin Moore Advance Paint in a Satin finish in Decorator’s White, which is the same color as all of the trim & doors in our house. It’s a fantastic paint for cabinetry, trim, and other projects that you want to be super smooth because it has fantastic self-leveling capabilities. It’s expensive, but the finish you get is worth it. You do have to wait 16 hours before sanding/re-painting/flipping, although I broke this rule on the last coat on the flip side because I wanted to get started constructing. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I only primed & painted two coats on one side of every strip. For the two 15″ strips that were going to be the exposed sides of my shelving unit, I flipped those and primed & painted 1 coat on the side that would be the outside. That way, I could do a quick coat when everything was finished to paint over caulk & blend everything.
We’re already at almost 1,000 words, so this is probably a good place to stop for today! Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I’ll make up for it in the next one for sure!
Check out all of the Stacy’s Savings Total Home Makeover posts here!