How to trim out bookcase shelves

September 04, 2012

It’s time for another update on the DIY built ins in the dining room turned library. 

Last time we talked about this project, I explained how we built the bookcases up to this point:

DIY built ins bookcase

The final frontier (well, the biggest one) was to trim out the front of the bookcases, which I figured was going to be the easiest part by far. So Dad came by a few weeks ago, we took some measurements and headed out to Lowe’s to get the trim pieces. But when we go there, we stood in the lumber aisles for a while before realizing our hands were kind of tied.

The vertical and horizontal trim was going to have to be different widths to cover the supports that were already there, and we were walking around realizing that there was nothing with that was the exact size that we needed. 

Usually I’ll just have the guys at Lowe’s cut stuff down for me (even lots of cuts) but these were going to have to be exactly right to be uniform and cover all the unfinished stuff.

So I gave the guys who did the basement a call and asked if they could cut down the pieces I needed. Thankfully they could and then they also installed them…WHOO! It is SO nice to have someone else help with a project! Especially one I've worked on forever.

It took me six months to get bases installed and bookcases framed up, and them 24 hours to finish up the trim.

They went a little above and beyond what I was planning on doing. My plan was to add a thin board (that also had to be cut down with a table saw) to the bottom of the supports for each shelf. They ended up putting one additional support in the middle of each shelf and then supports to the front as well:

I would not have done that and I think it would have been fine, but it does keep that thin plywood from bowing underneath.

They also added some supports at the top where the lights come out of the wall, which we had planned as well. The cords are hidden from below with the plywood:

Now all the unfinished edges are hidden behind trim:

Now do you see why it didn’t have to be perfect? :)

And you can see how under each shelf is finished off here:

Here’s where one of the lights comes through at the top:

header for library light

Much better than how they looked last month!:

I can’t even BELIEVE the difference trim and paint has made! They look like (almost) finished built ins!!:

DIY built ins with bases

I am SO THRILLED. They are coming together just as I had imagined!

There is still so very much to do…lights need to be installed (and purchased!), I’m adding a bit more trim, crown molding to the top, some more caulk, hardware on the cabinets and three more coats of paint to go on the bases.

I had already primed them months ago, but I dropped a can of the back wall color (Storm Cloud by Sherwin Williams) and it went EVERYWHERE. Ever.y.where:

I’m going to prime it over again and then do at least two coats of white paint.

Even though there’s still a ton of work left to do till I finish these, I’ve already started filling the shelves. :) It is SO nice to have our books displayed, I love it! Over the past six months or so, I’ve been gathering accessories and am loving how it’s coming together. I just added these adorable brass birds I found today at Goodwill:

brass birds

It’s been a long process but I’m so thrilled with how it’s turning out! Next time I show you these, they WILL be done. :) It just be a few more weeks cause I’m S.L.O.W.

Did you see my vision from the beginning? Are the lights and all making more sense now? I know it’s hard to see what’s in my head sometimes! 

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  1. Wow. I can't wait to see the finished product. It looks so good right now and it isn't even finished yet.

    I love the birdies too. Usually not my kinda style but I think it'll go lovely with everything.

  2. Your bookshelves are coming along so well! Can't wait to see the end result. My cute grandma has those same brass birds. :)

  3. OMG..I luv it! Already giving me ideas for a couple rooms in our home!

  4. Your builtins are going to be wonderful! I'm happy for you and I'm not jealous a bit! ;)
    Be a sweetie,
    shelia ;)

  5. Woohoo, lookin' good! I can totally see the vision. That is going to be one stunning set of built-ins!

  6. Wow, you are so inspiring. I'm so hooked on your creative spirit! Love the book cases! Bravo!

  7. These are turning out so pretty! I'm trying to talk hubby into doing this in our family room. It's so helpful to be able to show him your progress and say "here are pictures of how to do it,see how easy it is?!" although I know it's not that easy. :) Keep up the good work!!

  8. I have those birds! They make their way around my house, making an appearance in every room now and then :)

  9. OH how pretty! I love your brass partridges! My husband laughed at me when I told him I am looking for some partridges. I just love them... and I don't know why. :)

    Once again your "library" is going to be stunning (in all honesty it already is!)

  10. Love it! We turned our formal living room into a library years ago, and the room gets so much more use!!

  11. It sure is looking great. And help is wonderful :) One thing that might make you a little less fearful is to work wearing a metal/mesh glove. It might make you more comfortable when using a table saw.

  12. I'm so loving this project! I won't lie, I am extremely jealous at how awesome it's turning out. :)

  13. FANTASTIC!!! I love how they're coming together, and I totally see your vision! The trim really does give it that "almost finished" look though, doesn't it?

  14. Your library built ins are looking amazing! I love the finishing details.

  15. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! Can't wait to see them finished!

  16. I love the birds! I actually found the exact pair at a thrift store earlier this year and painted them gray and they totally rock!! Great minds think alike :)

  17. It's looking so good! Maybe I need to give myself deadlines around the house, too. . .

  18. I love how these are turning out. These kind of projects do seem to take a while and it's hard to wait.

  19. I love tools too, but not table saws. They scare me. I have a family member who cut a finger off with a table saw, so I have a deep respect for power tools.

    Crazy accidents can happen anytime. Years ago, I knew a teenage girl who was on a ladder at work and lost her balance. She grabbed a metal shelf and her ring caught it as she fell. Poor thing, she lost the entire ring finger of her left hand. Be careful out there!

  20. looks good!!

    and P.S. those birds are called "quails" :o)

  21. Your shelves look great--and when I got down to the brass birds I gasped--my grandmother had those! Big emotional flashback :)

  22. Looking GORGEOUS girl!! Love, love, love it!! Can't wait til it's done!! :) And curse the spilled paint!! Grrr...what a pain in the booty!!

  23. Oh wow, looking fabulous. I love it. Hugs, marty

  24. Sarah, I was thinking about this project today, I am considering a similar project in my home. I hope you will share how much it cost you to do those bookshelves. Also those brass birds you have are from a company called Home Interiors, I remember those from a long time ago, they came to your house to sell them to you kinda like tupperware. Everything is looking good!

  25. It's looking great. I'm totally with you and not wanting to use a table saw. But we have so many woodworking projects to work on that I think we're going to spring for a SawStop so we don't cut any parts off in the process.

  26. So gorgeous! I can't wait to read the next update! :-) Is there anything better than built-ins? *Sigh*

  27. Looks great! I just posted our builtin bookcase that hubby built...come take a look.

  28. I see it, I see it! Whoo hooo!
    Love those cute little brass birds. I got one from a friend but painted it with DIY chalk paint in gray with a chalk paint white dry brush on top. It turned out looking very old French painted clay or something.Really cute. But those little guys have so much character "as is". Can't wait to see your whole thing complete.
    Oh..I once stepped into, yes into!, an almost full can of paint!!! Can you believe we got most of it cleaned up and back into the can and there was no splatter anywhere? Must have been a minor miracle! LOL!

  29. These are going to look amazing. The work you put into building them is definitely going to pay off 1000 times over. Can't wait to see the finished product.

  30. Simply gorgeous! Can't wait to see those shelves all lit up for the holidays, too! You'll have to promise us a close up pic of each nook, as well as a pic of the entire wall. Love it!

  31. I need some enlightenment - can you tell me where the supports (added by your carpenter elves) attach to keep the shelf from bowing? I get your side and back supports as well as the luan piece to finish the underneath, but I am stymied as to how the tiny center piece and the 2 longer boards support the shelf, especially since the 2 longer front supports actually look like they would hinge and still allow the shelf to bow.
    I am spatially challenged and apologize in advance for the "duh" question.

  32. You've made such incredible progress! They are looking beyond gorgeous!

  33. How the heck do I get to your blog from the email? I would really love to see these wonderful things you have.

  34. Thrifty chicks stick together! Enjoy your blog so much!

  35. Wow, those really do look fabulous! Can't wait to see them fully finished!

  36. They look great. Coming along so nicely.

    Will the work done by the carpenters alter your budget for these much?

    I think you will be so glad for the added shelf support-you won't have to be concerned about book weight. (or as concerned!)



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