Help with custom bookcase design

2ajsmamaJanuary 30, 2009

My cousin just got laid off from woodworking shop, now has time to do my bookcases I had thought about when designing the house. But I didn't design the bookcases. Here's the room:

What we've come up with so far:

1. Go all the way to ceiling, frieze board with arched top. No crown since I can't afford to do the entire downstairs (or even this 13' x 37' room).

2. Build a "box" to set base on, cut and staple carpet around it so box is sitting directly on subfloor. Base will sit on top of box, baseboard will cover it so when we replace carpet (maybe with oak?) we can just pull off the baseboard and pull up carpet/lay new flooring.

3. Base cabinet will be built with 1 door (hinged on wall side) with 1 interior shelf, and 1 drawer (5" interior depth for CDs) above. Yes, I know it'll look like a bath vanity but I need cabinets for board games and drawers for CDs and kids' art supplies. Exterior cabinet depth will be 14" max (then can fit LPs in as well, without having to move outlet or floor vent return).

4. Top shelves (5, adjustable) will be stepped back 2.5" from depth of base cabinet, "hutch" style. Countertop will be windowsill height (app. 28" from carpet surface, 29" from subfloor) with 1/2" overhang in front only.

5. Sides of bookcase will be scribed to walls (inside corner on one side, outside angle bay on the other) so no thin paint strip to deal with - this means that the hutch top (shelves) will be flush with sides of base cabinet. Could do sides all one (96") piece of wood, notched out for step-back, IF countertop is laid in after the fact. But this would be harder to make/move than 2 separate pieces, base and hutch.

Here are the things I need help deciding on:

1. Pine or oak (esp. if doing oak flooring at some point - kitchen cabinets on other end of room are oak, as is are coffee/end tables)? All doors and trim in house are pine.

2. Cousin wants to "wrap" countertops around bay, replacing sills, to make 1 continuous "sill." Acutally, the cabinets would be separate and the windowsill would be continuous, but he'd make the windowsill after the cabinet bases were in place and make them meet, though I don't think he'd actually join them. I'm not sure about this idea, though I like the idea of the continuous sill and maybe try to trim out the bay to look like 1 window.

3. Uncle has a broken slab of dark "butterfly" granite that is large enough to do the 2 countertops - should I take it (just pay to have it cut) even if it's darker than my kitchen laminate? Would this steer me to oak instead of cheap pine? Or just do oak countertop? Pine is just too soft - would get dinged in no time with the kids and I really wasn't going for the country distressed look.

4. If sides are flush with bay angled walls, how to trim out top (front no problem) to hide any gap at the ceiling?


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Just a a couple of suggestions for you. Instead of just a countertop under the bay (from your description it doesn't sound like there will be shelving there?), what about a window seat? extra seating space, the pine counter will be protected from damage and if you put the top/top sections depending on how you do it on hinges, you could gain a lot of storage space there for board games, art supplies completely out of sight.

another suggestion, you could bring the shelves out past the powerpoint and have the powerpoint inside the cupboard. I find powerpoints inside a cupboard useful, you could use it for your dvd player, xbox, cd player on one of the shelves.

If it were me I would go for pine to match the rest of the room with some good coats of hardwearing varnish on top. You could always do a makeover of all the timber in the room and stain it to match the oak better at a later date.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2009 at 8:20PM
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Thanks. We thought about shelving under the windows, but in order to make a windowseat it really would have to be 18" high and probably more than 14" deep, so it doesn't help with tranistion to the bookcases on the side walls. If we went 18.5" deep we could get the outlet inside the cabinet (top would still be higher than windowseat) but really too close to floor vent which cousin says is too hard to move rigid ductwork in basement and patch the carpet. I think we'll be fine with the outlet just in front of the cabinet so we can recharge Game Boy, cell phones. We may try to put outlets on the walls behind the bookcases (full basement) but since they're exterior walls I don't know if that's going to be hard - would need 90 degree drill bit to drill through sill plate? The walls are just barely 24" so builder didn't put outlets there. Not sure if we could squeeze one on the same wall, right in the corner. I want to add another one at the next stud location so it's more behind the sofa/end table - I hate having the lamp cord trailing over to the side.

Plus if we went with the windowseat we would have no place for the new loveseat we bought last summer (thinking it would be a while before we would put in windowseat). It's just in front of the slider now b/c we had the Xmas tree in the bay, and now the bay is a play area. We'll move the LS back to the bay later this year.

I guess we could just do shelves and no door/drawer, put the board games in the extra-deep coat closet (when I get the French doors, short pieces of baseboard and casing out of it). But I really need drawers for pens, pencils, markers, paint pens, glue sticks, and pads/coloring books. I don't think chests or cabinets or bins on shelves would work for those. Unless I store them in my kitchen island after I get 2 new drawers in there (used a bath vanity in center of island for baking center, still trying to get Merillat to give me part number for drawer boxes that will fit - might have to do custom).

Oh, and the color of the baseboard (and window trim when we put it up - Honey Maple) is pretty close to my kitchen cabinets (Oak Cider). The furniture is a mix of golden and mission oak. Do you think a floor poly or varnish (Waterlox?) would be a good choice for horizontal surfaces (vertical I'd probably do the satin poly I did the baseboards in so the sheen would match)?

    Bookmark   January 31, 2009 at 11:27AM
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Cousin is coming over tomorrow to measure and help me decide on final design - I've been putting him off for nearly 2 weeks! Bought a little 2-shelf bookcase at Goodwill for dd today. It's 25" wide (too wide for this space) and tucks right under the windowsill, right height (needs a top) so I thought I'd play with it at different distances from the wall to judge depth. It's 8" deep (1x8 shelves plus plywood back) and maybe I can live with 10" deep but 12" (depth of standard ones from unfinished furniture store) looks/seems really tight even if we don't put doors on. Unless I want to get rid of my end tables and put sconces on the walls (but then where to set down a drink?). *Still* trying to figure out how to finish out top if we go all the way to the ceiling. Continue shelves over windows and just put crown on the end of the room?

Look at this post on Decorating - think we can do something like this (over/under window) in bay? How deep without losing all the light from these south windows (also have 6ft slider on east wall)? Thanks!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2009 at 4:25PM
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