Last year we decided to move from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.  You never realize how much ‘stuff’ you have until you have to move it.  Let me tell you…I didn’t realize how many books I had.  I’m a book lover, no denying it.  Especially art books and children’s books, and of course, the classics.  I won’t even begin to tell you about my National Geographic collection.  That is still in storage.  I just don’t have enough book shelves.  So how do we remedy that?  It just so happens we have this little nook just outside our laundry room that faces my son’s bedroom door.  He could lay in bed and view this boring little nook.  Why not do a built in?  It’s perfect and who doesn’t love built ins??  And because it is just outside his room, this would be dedicated to our Children’s book collection.

Step#1: Let’s Add Color

Our house was repainted before we purchased it so when we moved in, almost every wall is this buttery yellow color.  It’s neutral enough that it goes with most everything but when you look around you feel like your in a butter dish.  And me loving color, I had to change it up a bit.  We have turquoise blue throughout our house, furniture, artwork, etc. so I wanted to bring that in here.  So I had a gallon of deep turquoise that I purchased for our powder room.  I love the color but wanted to use it as the stencil color vs. the base color.  So I took an extra paint can and mixed 1 part turquoise with 1 part white, replaced the lid and shook.  It’s important that you really mix this well.  You don’t want your color to shift as you are painting because the paint at the bottom of the can wasn’t mixed as well as the paint on top.  A nice coat of my custom mixed blue and we’re ready for step 2.

Time: 2 hours.

Step#2: Pattern

In addition to color, I love a great pattern.  I have this incredible moroccan star stencil that I’m obsessed with and used to glam up our entryway in our LA home.  You can see that project here.   Because this area is small and will be full of shelves and books, I was confident with my bold color and pattern choice.  I found that my center point on the wall and positioned the stencil there & taped it up.  I like to let the stencil sit up on the wall for a while so I can really study it and make sure it’s what I want before moving forward. In the mean time I start masking things off.  I discovered that I was able to stick my plastic to the walls without tape.  There’s so much static electricity here in Vegas that the thin plastic had no trouble sticking and staying there as I painted.  It made masking areas super easy because I was able to just drag the plastic along the wall and into my next position.

Now with my medium size stencil brush I was able to begin applying the ‘essential turquoise’ in my Starry Night pattern.  I worked slowly and methodically being extra careful to remove extra paint from my stencil brush before applying paint to the wall.  This was important because our walls have a slight texture to them.  It’s easy for the house paint to slip under the stencil if moving too fast.

Time: 3 hours.

Step#3: Clean up & touch up

Once the stenciling is complete I cleaned up all the plastic a double checked the pattern making sure it went right up to each of the edges. I touched up the surrounding walls and ceiling as needed.

*Because the next step was to create the shelves over this pattern, the point of no return, we didn’t build the shelves right away.  I wanted to live with the color and pattern a few days to make sure it was what we wanted.  This is especially good to do if you’re really spontaneous with your projects.

Time: 15 minutes.

Step#4: Building the Shelves

My parents came out to Vegas for a weekend visit so my dad could help with the shelves.  Luckily, I had a lot of left over Birch Plywood from our son’s Lego room. See that project here.  So the only thing we had to do was cut the left over pieces down to size for each of the 6 shelves and 12 side walls that support each consecutive shelf.  These were cut to the same depth, in pairs of varying heights based on where I wanted the shelves.  I chose to have the tallest shelf at eye level. This allows for your favorite items to be displayed where you can easily view them while giving them enough breathing room.

*I stacked my books in groups of similar sizes, then measured each group, so I could figure out how high I needed each shelf.

In the drawing below you’ll see that the base was necessary so the first shelf would sit just above the moulding.  This eliminates the need for any type of demo.  Once the base is in place, the stacking of shelves and side walls began.  6 shelves, 6 sets of side walls, plus + an extra shelf for the top.  This added extra support and allowed for some decorative crown moulding.

*We did not use any nails or glue in this step.

Time: 4 hours.

Step#5: Trim & Moulding

Once all the shelves were in place, it was time to add the trim and moulding to hold everything together and add a decorative touch.  The first thing we did was add two side braces.  These are the thick, white vertical pieces.  My dad attached each vertical piece to each shelf and side wall with brad nails.  Then added a few brad nails through the side walls into the butter yellow walls.  This step went really quickly and now everything is secure.

We chose a  1 inch flat trim toped with rope trim for the front of the shelves.  Using these two added a nice finish to the shelf face as well as adding strength so the shelves would not bow under the weight of the books.  We finished off with moulding on the bottom and top of the book shelf, as well as quarter round on the left side only.  This made for a smoother transition between built in and wall.

Time: 2 hours

Step#6: Prime, Fill, Paint

After priming everything white, I filled in any visible holes and gaps.  Most walls are not perfectly straight so this is almost always required.  After allowing the caulk to dry, I lightly sanded and wiped clean to remove any dust.  Matching the trim of the house, I painted two coats of semi-gloss white over everything allowing the first coat to dry for 2 hours.  Once everything was patched, sealed and painted, I left it dry for a full day.  If you stock your shelves too soon, things will stick.

Time: 5 hours + 24 hours to cure.


Blue painters tape
Kilz Primer
White Semi-Gloss Paint
Light interior satin paint
Darker interior satin paint
Paint brush
Stencil Brush
Birch Plywood
1 inch trim moulding
3/4 inch rope trim
2 inch smooth flat moulding
Moulding to match existing base boards.
Table saw
Air compressor
Nail Gun
Brad Nails
Fine Sand Paper

Total Time: 3 days.

Here’s the before and after.  Such a difference and I still smile every time I pass it, which is often :).  A huge thanks to my Dad for coming out and doing most of the hard work :)  I love it!!

Now that you know how to build it, see my next blog post on displaying all those beautiful books and goodies in a creative and accessible way.