Wednesday, March 23, 2011

DIY Built-ins

Let me preface this by saying, I love my house and can’t think of a better place to live. I love everything about the architecture of it, the arches, the high ceilings, even the crazy two front doors. But the one thing that almost made me not put an offer on the house (even though my husband thought I was crazy) were these silly indents, alcoves, whatever they are called on the sides of the fireplace. I hated them. It didn’t help that they aren’t the same size. I like symmetry and this totally was not symmetric. It hurt my eyes just to look at them.
Anyway. Luckily, this house had a lot more going for it than the one thing it didn’t have going for it a.k.a .the dumb asymmetric alcoves. So, as we moved in I had crazy visions of what to do with it.
  • create long bifold doors for it
  • hang long curtains from the left alcove and hang long curtains further on the right side of the right alcove as to make the illusion that they are the same size
  • Create bookshelves
  • just plain get rid of the alcove altogether with some dry wall and a little mud 
  • Or just ignore it, and pretend it didn’t exist
I pretty much did the last option. I arranged my furniture so it wasn’t a focal point by any means. I was fine with the left side alcove cuz we were able to fit a great entertainment center and tv in it.
But, I couldn’t leave the right side just empty. So I found a beautiful metal planter and put some curly willow branches in it. This stayed like this until January. But I was sick of always having my mantel décor compete with the branches. I couldn’t put half the stuff I wanted to up on the mantel because of the darn things.
So I moved out the branches and put a lamp in there instead. I loved this look because it made it look like there was another room or hall off to the side of the living room. It kind of made it look bigger and brighter and created great mood lighting when watching movies.

But I got so sick of it. First off…a lamp in an alcove??? That was odd.
And I guess that there's no second off....
So, my creative process was going like mad to figure out what to do with this space. Then a light went off in my head: How about I make a HUGE statement and fill the whole thing, top to bottom, with fire wood!!! I was so gitty with excitement until I realized that I would need like 30 bundles, at least, of fire wood to fill the thing. And at $3 a bundle, that was waaaaay out of my price range.

So, here comes the TOTALLY BIG FAIL, yes this does happen. I thought to myself, why don’t I just get a couple of bundles, cut the logs into thirds and secure them to some plywood and then balance the plywood in the alcove as to make an illusion that it is filled with firewood, but it totally isn’t? Well, I went at it with my miter saw. I successfully cut about 5 logs into thirds with it, until a piece of wood got stuck on the blade and wouldn’t come off. Scared the living crap out of me. So I stopped that quick.
Then I thought my jigsaw might work. Totally didn’t.
Now I was stuck with an eighth of plywood filled with wood and nothing to put on the other 7/8ths, a broken miter saw and a dull jigsaw blade.
It was getting pathetic, every wood pile I drove past, I was like….”maybe they’ll let me have some!” lol
Well, after immense frustration. Another light bulb went off in my head. This time, a brighter light. Why not just DO bookshelves? The only reason why I didn’t do it before was because I (and my husband) are scared to put holes in the wall. Pathetic, yes I know. But then I talked myself into it….we’ve lived here for two years now, its not like we can live here all our life without putting dumb holes in the wall.
So, first things first. Went to the good ol’ Home Depot – where my husband jokes that they know me by name now -and got a 4’x8’ piece of particle board, some 1x2s and some molding. Luckily, the nice guy at the wood cutting center cut all the particle board for me into the lengths that I needed. What a life saver! I was not looking forward to sending this stuff through the table saw at home especially after the miter saw incident.
I painted both sides of the particle board, painted the molding, and the 1x2s. Next, I connected the molding to the particle board with some wood glue. Worked like a charm! But left an ugly seam.
So, I took some white caulk and filled the seam up and then painted back over it.

Next, I measured where I wanted the shelves to be. I think this took the longest. I had to sit on the couch for a few hours staring at the blue tape (my imaginary shelves) making sure that’s where I wanted them. So, once I was happy with the location, I made a line with my level on each side of the wall where the shelf should be.

Then, I cut the 1x2s into lengths just shorter than the shelves and lined them up on the wall with the marked lines. Leveled them again just to make sure, and screwed them in!

I think this process gave my husband a heart attack. He didn’t want me to do this project in the first place. As I mentioned before, he’s fine leaving everything where it is for all eternity and beyond. So, even the mentioning of doing something this drastic I think scared him to death. And of course, I needed his help, so he was in charge of putting the screws in the wall. Lol. Poor guy.

Well. After all was said and done….Success!

I went and bought three décor pieces (yes! only 3)to put on the shelves and pulled everything else from around the house. The totally cost of shelf and accessories is under $40!!!

Heck ya!

I am completely elated with how it turned out!
Now it looks like we actually use the other half of our living room. It looks lived in and cozy. And totally makes the room look bigger. I don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier.



Now, I can finally say that my living room is complete! Holy cow, three months of change, and finally its done (for now. Lol)

Have a great week!