Monday, March 3, 2008

Built-In Wholesome Goodness

Having limited square footage you have to get creative to make the space work. My house is about 12'-6" wide (45' deep) on the interior, with a single open space on the main floor. While this lends itself beautifully to an open floor plan, it makes room arrangement and furniture usage and placement annoyingly difficult. To best make use of the layout the Queen and I made an executive decreedecision to add built-in bookshelves. You see, I have what used to be a fireplace near the front of the house. It now contains a HVAC grate. Lovely. I can't just remove the old fireplace completely since my water heater and furnace now vents through the old chimney. The old fireplace sticks into the room, creating two 10" depth spaces on either side of it. Currently this space isn't very usable. We decided to change this. Keep in mind that living in a rowhome originally built in 1900 guarantees a couple of things.

1. Nothing will be level.
2. The brick walls adjacent to your neighbors are a combination of plaster/cement, with firring strips and drywall on them.

These two items made the decision to make built-in bookshelves difficult. We couldn't just attach some shelves to the wall, since they probably wouldn't be very level, and there really wasn't anything to brace the shelves into. Dadolescent and I ripped the drywall off the wall, exposing the plaster and framing around the fireplace. We reframed walls attaching into the ceiling and floor joists with 2x4's, which will hold approximately 1,000,000 lbs of books. Trust me, I did an engineering calculation? Since we used 2x4's the shelves can't be more than 7.5" deep or they would protrude past the fireplace - probably should have used 2x3's, but a bit late for that now. Anyways, since the new knee wall means the couch will offer a direct view of the fireplace and shelves, this offered us a problem of where to put the TV. Should it go in the cove to the right of the fireplace, or above it? We decided above since the fireplace was already a visual draw, and bookshelves surrounding the TV are flat out sexy.

With 60" of width above the fire place, we decided a 47"-50" flat screen would work well. A 36-63" LCD tiltable wall mount is now ordered, and framing and electrical above the fireplace will commence this week. I'm going to put electrical and cable behind the new TV, placing conduit for a wire chase behind the drywall from the TV to the electronic gadgetry located in the right hand cove. This means no visible cables running from the TV to the cabinet. The Queen and I argued about whether this should be a floating credenza or not (I think it should, so I can hardmount electrical into it), but the Queen doesn't like this idea. The ball is in her court to find a 48" credenza for this area that:

A. Looks Hawt.
B. Is 48" wide.
C. Is a minimal depth. The shelf depths will only be 7.5" deep or they would protrude past the fireplace, so I'd like to minimize the credenza depth jutting out in the room.
D. Looks Hawt.
E. Can hold electronics, and be able to receive an IR signal from a remote. This means it has to be either open or glass for part of it.
F. Is a normal height. A lot of stands nowadays are meant to sit a TV on top of them, causing them to be extremely low. Since our TV will go elsewhere, something higher would probably look better.
G. And Looks Hawt.

There is also the possibility of a built-in credenza. The issue with this is the space is like 50.5" wide, and my cabinet building skillz are non-existent. The shelves will go above the credenza shelves. For now, the plan is for the left of the fireplace to be all shelves.

For shelves I am still thinking of how best to design the shelves to minimize the visual impact of the brackets and my installation time, while also making the trim around the shelves (crown and baseboard) work. For now, I am leaning toward modifying Ikea's white Lack shelves to shave some depth and width off to fit the space. This would solve the problem of showing brackets, as their brackets mount inside the 2" high shelves for a seamless appearance.

There is also the possibility of going with fully customized bookshelves, but I don't know if it would look as good as the above option, and I think the install time could be a lot greater. The jury is still out on this.

*I’ll add more pics to the post when I upload them in a couple hours.


momnipotent said...

Regarding this hawt credenza...most electronic components are fairly deep. They will not fit. Might need to re-think this a bit.

Summer said...

yep, momnipotent is right. We have all of ours balanced on a ledge right now and they are overhanging by about 2 inches. We measured that we need about a foot of space to accommodate them.

also, the Lack shelves hold very little weight, but if you built them yourself out of real wood, you can do the floating shelf thing that will actually hold books. I think the weight limit is something like 11 lbs? I put a lot more on them when I had them mounted to concrete walls in my old apartment, but just be cautious about using them for lots and lots of books.

Jen said...

Nice work! It sounds like this will look great. A note on modifying the lack shelves, though. I have a few, and one came damaged. The interior is cardboard, so it won't modify too easily. Whatever you do in that vein, though, is sure to look great.