16 October 2012

The living room shelves, part 1

Today’s post, unfortunately, doesn’t have a beautiful before-and-after. It’s more of a before, a few false starts, and a during. Just a warning so you don’t get your hopes up! And it’s also an illustration in how sometimes, sadly, visions don’t turn out as planed.

I showed you where we’re going with our living room, and I showed you the large piece of furniture setting the stage....

But I also pointed out all the problems we currently have going on in the room. Because there are a LOT. Those shelves stuck in the back were particularly driving me crazy as of late.

See, ever since we put the deposit down on this apartment, I knew I wanted to do a wall of bookshelves on that back wall, opposite the fireplace and television, possibly wrapping around in the corner. We didn’t have any bookshelves when we moved here (despite our large book collection) because I cast off our cheapy bookcases back in Nashville. So, I started from scratch and got these shorty-shelves from Target.

(Forgive the lame-o bookcase “styling”, please. I just really really wanted that stuff off my floor, so onto the shelves it went.)

I went with the short shelves because of the sloped ceiling, they only came in two size (short and tall), and the tall ones were too tall for that wall. They were cheap and easy to assemble, so.... should have been an easy choice!

Except I hated how it looked. Frowny face.

I cranked the imagination machine in my head on high, but even envisioning bookcases all along the back wall... ehh. No. Not interested. Do not like.

I think part of the problem was that the shorty shelves were TOO short. Maybe they’d be better if they were a bit taller, perhaps as tall as the wall with the sloped ceiling? Behold, the power of the clone tool! Sloppy photoshopping aside, it’s really helpful for visualizing:

.... Yup. That looks better. Even with the blurry clone tool job, it’s clear that taller would be better.

But, I refused to build my own shelves from scratch. After running the numbers and considering the cost of wood and my very very precious free time, buying the pre-made laminate/MDF shelves was the best way to go for us. (Hey, Kate did, so I can too, right?) So I was determined to work with the dimensions on the shelves that were easily available... but these just weren’t the right shelves.

So I gave up on the idea of wrapping bookshelves along both walls, decided to focus on just the back wall, and moved those short-stuff bookcases out of the living room. No worries, our ginormous apartment meant there was another place for them elsewhere.

(That is not even where they are today. Ginormous apartment = many other places.)

Then we bought the taller version of the Tar-zhay shelves. I am sure Mr. P was thrilled with each set of heavy boxes he had to carry up to our third-floor apartment.

Just purchasing those shelves was difficult, as both of our two Targets nearby seemed to always be sold out of them. We basically averaged less than one set of shelves purchased per store visit.

But even once I had my new tall shelves, I still had the original problem: the sloped ceiling. These are too tall to go up in the corner, which leaves an annoying gap between the shelf and the wall. Ugh, the historic apartment feature that I loved so much when we signed the lease, driving me crazy today!

So, the next idea was to leave a shorty white shelf in the corner, under the sloped ceiling. But then I discovered, to my dismay, that the shorty white shelves were taller than the fixed shelf in the tall white shelves. It’s hard to explain, and I didn’t take a photo, but trust me. It also looked stupid.

THEN I hauled an entirely different bookcase – which had previously been used in our broom closet to store lightbulbs and dustrags – next to the new shelves. It was the wrong finish, but it could be painted to match the white if it was the right size... And success! It was the perfect height!

But it was too shallow.

And ultimately... I decided it looked stupid to have the shorty shelf crammed in the corner with tall shelves all the way across.

Especially because if you can’t see the short shelf tucked in the corner, the tall shelves could just look off-center. Here, again, the power of the wonky clone tool lets you see what’s in my head!

(Even our sofa got a little extension! As if it needed to be any more giant than it already is.)

I guess it’s a good thing my “vision” kicks in where a job is halfway done, rather than totally done?

So finally, FINALLY I settled on just the three tall shelves, centered on the back wall. It took a lot of trial-and-error, a lot of grunting while moving the shelves around (“No Mr. P I can DO IT MYSELF”), a lot of standing back and squinting critically and admitting defeat once again. The end result is boring, but I think it’s what works.

And there’s more trial-and-error to come, oh yes. The color on the back of the shelves, “styling” of the bookshelves, and trimming them out to attempt a built-in look. Stay tuned, this is turning out to be more time- and brain-consuming than anyone could have guessed!


Miranda said...

That turned out great!