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The Shelves

Our studio shelving is done! It has been for weeks! Er, well, the shelving is finally complete, as in, I’m no longer fussing over the things. And that’s only been for the last week.

Let’s start over. It’s been officially on the wall since right before I went California bound, the crowning glory was installed at the start of this month, and as of three days ago, there’s a place for everything (and everything is in it’s place).

After fauxdenza completion, what began as this bare, blank wall…

… became this shelving bonanza (sans the completed crown molding):

And now, put a fork in it!

No fooling, we sort of winged this whole project. (A full blown tutorial, this is not.) What began as a simple idea for floating shelves – as you can imagine – snowballed into cramped living quarters longer than originally planned, squeezing our bodies around a mega-unit in an 8×10 room and tripping over Jack, soaking paintbrushes in hand.

After spending hours on Pinterest, I began to notice a pattern in the design I was most attracted to – stark white and perfect grids. Originally thinking I may want to add embellishment through intricate trim (balancing the opposing art wall), this image nixed those thoughts:

The warm wood was similar to our faux-task-station, and it should come as no surprise that we lean towards wood-on-white (uh, there’s a joke there somewhere!) as seen on our living room media wall. While we wouldn’t have the paneled wood walls, I took a queue from my inspiration image and got to sketching (and re-sketching and sketching some more). Using grid paper, I kept my scale, staying within the width of our 93″ wall. In order to keep things on the simpler side, Scott insisted that I stagger the middle shelving. This would make it a cinch (well, more so than not) to screw our planks securely from the side.

To save on money – and knowing we would be painting the whole thing – we used pine. You can see above that we labeled our shelves 1-3, and after an excruciating math headache, we came home with just enough. Our design also implemented a false back down the middle, which would act as the support for the floating structure. And because we wanted to mimic the look of a semi-built in (using the help of crown molding), we created a 93″ wide drop ceiling. To get the length we needed for the false back and ceiling, we defaulted to MDF and had the Home Depot crew cut it down to size at no extra charge. Using my sketch as a guide (no joke, that paper was the lifeline for the entire project!), we measured the rest of the shelves and made those cuts at home. As for where small space dwellers are forced to create such projects? The building basement, of course!

Once everything was cut to size, we brought all the wood into the studio and began the assembly – you can even see my sketch at the bottom left:

Scott drilled pilot holes for every screw that went into place, and we used a countersink bit so the head of the screw would lay below the wood surface. After the entire unit (sans the false back and ceiling) was held together, I got to work with wood filler to hide every last screw and imperfection.

Together, we raised the structure on two saw horses, sanded everything smooth, and I was able to being priming, painting and sealing:

I used the same method as the painting table, starting with Zinsser 1-2-3, followed by semi-gloss white paint and finishing with the Minwax Polycrylic in clear semi-gloss. On the left is the false ceiling, but you’ll notice I didn’t paint the false back.

Instead, the false back got wallpapered using the Oh Joy! paper first mentioned here. The design is very subtle – more of a random dot pattern with a champagne shimmer – so it’s tough to see here. (As for how I adhered it, I used wallpaper primer and glue. It was actually harder than our hallway somehow!).

At this point, we stood the shelving up and got to work on the false back. After using a stud finder on the wall, we marked where our anchors should go from the back to the wall, and Scott drilled large pilot holes in the wall and the false back. The huge hole you see closest to the window was put there to fish our television wires behind the wall – more on that later.

You can see that our wall was covered in holes – there were upwards of 25 total. In addition to the holes needed for the false back, each of the loose shelf “wings” would be anchored to the wall in two places as well. (We actually pre-drilled angled pilot holes into each shelf using a mini Kreg jig. This eliminated the need for L-brackets, which we wanted to avoid to keep the overall aesthetic sleek.)

Once the back was ready for installation (yup, it’s in place in the photo above), it was able to be pushed into the mid section of our shelving unit. The two middle shelves were actually cut 3/4″ shorter in depth to allow for the back to sit into the structure. Four screws along those two middle shelves (that were carefully measured, since we were essentially doing this blind!) held it in place.

Finally, we were able to put the whole thing on the wall. Somehow, Scott and I managed to do this entirely on our own (after failed attempts of calling every neighbor for an extra hand – our building was empty that weekend besides the two of us!).

Below, you’ll notice three things: 1) to secure the false back (and essentially, the entire unit) to the wall, we used 8 toggle bolts and washers, which help to spread the load, 2) there is gapping where the back meets the shelf, and 3) there are two smaller holes and one large hole are to secure the television in place…

Like this! Scott used a hole saw to also go through the wall, and we used this method to run the electricity, sound and cable components back to the television. On the opposite end, there’s a hole behind one of the fauxdenza cabinets, and everything hooks up to a power strip and receiver. And because I’m apparently spoiled (!), Scott also installed in-wall speakers (scooped from Amazon for $59) as to not waste any precious task space.

To rid the ugly gaps between the false back and shelves and the shelves to the wall, we used white caulk to seal them off. Lucky for me, Scott took care of this while I soaked in the California sun!

As for the wings of the shelves, the left photo shows how they were secured to the wall. We used  small 30 lb. anchors, and the mini Kreg jig created the angled hole. On the right, you’ll see we used these Kreg caps to conceal them. If the unit ever needed to come off the wall, these tiny caps would make the job a lot easier – rather than filling them with wood putty and hiding them permanently.

And that, is how we took a blank wall and turned it into this:

After resisting the styling for far too long (finding other ways to occupy my time, such as squirreling away boxes and jars), I just went for it. Funny how something seemingly so simple terrifies me, but it so does.

In addition to the fauxdenza and Skar, the main purpose for the shelves was not just for books and pretty things (although it does have those), but I needed all the storage I could get. After stashing items such as shipping supplies, drop cloths and gaggles of firewire cables and external hard drives, I left the shelving open for colorful Pet Shop merchandise, stationary and happy, cheerful art.

The television was installed on a swing arm mount, so no matter where I am in the (teeny! tiny!) room, I can view it.

As usual, our goal was to be as budget friendly as possible. Of course there were a few times throughout the process where Scott might have said, any other wife would have asked me to go buy shelves – off the shelf, ha! – and just hang them. But what would be the fun in that? Here’s how the math breaks down:

MDF and pine = $100
toggle bolts and washers = $25
mini Kreg jig and caps = $28
Oh Joy! wallpaper (3 yds + shipping) = $40
primer (on hand), paint, Polycryclic = $26
paint, brushes and trays = on hand
miscellaneous screws, etc = $15
TOTAL =  $234

With the shelving complete, there are just a few things left in the mix to consider this entire room done, such as: window treatments, my grandma’s chair (she’s getting reupholstered rightthisminute!) and perhaps a pillow or two for some cozy-factor.

My second week of working from the studio is coming to a close, and it feels… weird. It’s really amazing in some ways – it’s hard to believe these walls used to be navy! – but I’m still finding my groove. Writing from the painting table still feels a little funny (not in a bad way; just, um, funny; it’s still so new), but I’m so much happier painting your pets within these walls than anywhere else.

(It helps that Jack loves the Flor so much. He’s always by my side, even if he does make for a lousy employee.)

See more of our studio ideas on our Pinterest board, right here.

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  • Carrie @DreamGreenDIY3.23.12 - 8:32 AM

    Gorgeous!!! =)ReplyCancel

  • Staci @ My Friend Staci3.23.12 - 9:51 AM

    I am blown away! I don’t think my math and graph paper skills could EVER be that good. Hanging something on the wall would probably result in 1,000 holes. I’m seriously floored at how fantastic this looks. Want to come over and do some projects in Kansas? ;)ReplyCancel

  • Stancie3.23.12 - 10:09 AM

    WOW I love it!! Looks amazing! My home office is laid out almost exactly like this and I NEED to do these shelves on an empty wall. Awesome…thanks for the great inspiration! And how cute is your Jack?! I have a Jack too…a golden retriever :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.23.12 - 10:26 AM

    Thank you!

    Staci, can you believe I’ve never been to Kansas?

    Stanci, Jack is pretty darn cute, we agree.ReplyCancel

  • jodi3.23.12 - 10:47 AM

    it looks so amazing!! what a wonderful space to work in. nicely done!ReplyCancel

  • TwoKittiesOnePittie3.23.12 - 11:00 AM

    Wow, I’m so impressed! This is just so gorgeous! I’m also obsessed with the Flor tiles, and really want to get some. Thanks for giving me so many great ideas and inspiration! :)

    P.S. I love it when Jack makes photo cameos. :)ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.23.12 - 11:15 AM

    Two Kitties, Jack is always photo bombing! Just imagine all the photos that don’t make the cut with Jack’s booty in the mix!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly3.23.12 - 12:47 PM

    Looks AMAZING!! Job well done (as usual).ReplyCancel

  • Trude3.23.12 - 5:46 PM

    It turned out gorgeous! You guys are so talented. I especially love the subtle wallpaper in the middle, lovely touch! And hooray for TV in the background while you work, I wish I could do that but it would have to be on my computer screen while I have Lightroom open…doesn’t work so well. ;)ReplyCancel

  • ann3.24.12 - 5:51 AM

    You two never cease to amaze me with your talents and creativity. The finished product is spectacular. Now is it time to rest? -AnnReplyCancel

  • Kim3.24.12 - 12:12 PM

    Thanks, everyone!

    Ann, just a few more finishing touches, and then we can call the studio done!ReplyCancel

  • Liliana3.27.12 - 12:36 PM

    I’m loving how your office is turning out!

    For a while now, I’ve been wanting to build something like this in my office, but now we have to save our pennies to take care of our girl Sasha.

    I want to join Jack on that nap = )

    ~ L.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren L.4.6.12 - 12:42 PM

    Your studio is going to look awesome! It’s inspiring me to overhaul this weird area we have in our basement. I especially love the batman sheet protecting the floor! :)ReplyCancel

  • This room looks so fantastic! I can’t believe how far behind I am on your progress. :)ReplyCancel

  • Sara Grace4.15.12 - 5:53 PM

    Y’all are so talented! Love love what you put on the shelves!ReplyCancel

  • […] this year, Scott and I turned our second bedroom into my dedicated studio space. In my mind, it’s perfect – pale pink walls, inspirational art, and a lot of storage. […]ReplyCancel

  • Rose3.21.13 - 9:26 PM

    Wow that looks so nice! I can’t believe this was not professionally installed or designed. I love your home. So much thought was put into everything! It inspires me to put my creativity and artistic skills to use in my own half finished home!ReplyCancel

  • Kim3.21.13 - 9:33 PM

    Rose, thank you!ReplyCancel

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