Double Parlor Home Library The Victorian House

About All That Oak

Built-in Bookshelves Construction #makingitlovely

I talked to the carpenter yesterday, and I’m feeling much better about the bookshelves. The worst of the bad grain is in the oak plywood, which I knew we were using for the backs and some of the parts that won’t be very visible. The facing pieces are solid oak, which looks much better.

Oak Wood #makingitlovely

The original baseboard along the wall was removed, and we’ll save it in the basement in case we ever need it somewhere else in the house. What’s up, 123-year-old plaster? Looking good!

Plaster Walls #makingitlovely

There are holes cut out because we’re tucking an electrical outlet away on each side of the shelves. I don’t know if I’ll be adding lamps or a radio (or whatever else might need some electricity), but it’s nice to have the option. While everything is open, you can see some of the home’s insulation through the holes. All of the siding on the lower half of the house was replaced ten years ago, and when the previous owners did that, they took the opportunity to insulate inside the walls. The kitchen and back room are cantilevered and need some further insulation from below, but the rest of the house is covered.

Cabinet Frame #makingitlovely

The bottom of the bookshelves will have closed storage, and the doors are still up for debate. I was worried that they were going to look like dated 80s kitchen cabinets, and some of you confirmed my fears. We can cut the ones that have been made down (or pay more for new ones) and turn them into inset doors, but the carpenter is advising against it. With kids, the settling of the house, and humidity changes throughout the year, the doors can become misaligned easily. They can be planed down and realigned as things settle, but then the gaps become uneven. The current plan calls for raised panels along the bottom matching the home’s original entryway detailing, but with a top that overhangs the cabinet frame to be flush with the panels. Brandon and I think we’re OK with that, but we’ll take another look before the doors are ready to be attached when the construction is further along.

Cabinet Being Built #makingitlovely

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  • Amy
    April 8, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    It always looks scarier, messier, crazier in the middle of the project, than it should. Only because the execution will be so wonderful when everything is done. Can’t wait to see it! :)

  • Elaine
    April 8, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I can’t wait to see this completed! I am still on the other side of the fence with the incredible amount of oak—floors, trim, floor to ceiling bookshelves, shutters. All of the wood grain overwhelms. I would definitely be painting the bookshelf out. There needs to be a balance between the age and character of the home and the family living in it and I am just kind of lost on that connection right now.

  • Lisa
    April 8, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Pink Library Ladder:

    April 8, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    The oak will be fine! Think of how little you see of a bookshelf when it’s fully loaded. IF I were you I’d ignore your carpenters advice on the inset doors, do them! Nothing pegs something as not original faster in an old house than overlay doors (well, except phillips screws), you’re paying to much for this bookcase for it to look like outdated kitchen cabinets which is what the overlay doors will look like. My 1886 house was abandoned and caving in, but all my inset doors are just fine, as are most I’ve seen in other homes…

  • Karin
    April 8, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Trust yourself Nicole. And breathe. And roll with it.
    In my years of reading your blog, I see that you have good intuition when it comes to these things and I see that you take cool risks that inspire me to look at things differently. I love your courage to do something different here and go with oak. It’s not going to look 1980s. I really want to fast forward and see how it all comes together with your special touches. It will be great!

  • Jennifer Laura
    April 9, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I’m rooting for you Nicole! I would be a nervous wreck with this project!

  • Margaret
    April 9, 2014 at 7:45 am

    I remember walking into our kitchen when we had only the upper corner cabinet up. We got Viola Park cabinets (you can check the website, think clean and modern) and the uppers are white while the lowers are walnut. My husband and I had a freaking panic attack because the one, boxy, white cabinet looked like it belonged in a hospital and not our precious, new kitchen. Seriously, panic attack. Our contractor had to find us in the laundry room and help us with breathing. Ha. But we just had to wait for the whole thing to come together and we can’t imagine a different kitchen. It will come together! And I think your choice of hardware will make it feel a lot less kitchen-y, as well.

  • Carol
    April 9, 2014 at 9:19 am

    We’ve had inset doors in our Oak Park bungalow kitchen for five years now with no problems. You’re carpenter might be trying to take the easy way out by suggesting the overlay doors. Inset doors are harder to do,

  • Never Mind | Making it Lovely
    April 9, 2014 at 10:06 am

    […] I was trying to be positive yesterday and convince myself that things were fine, but I was gone almost all day and when I came back the doors had been attached. I thought we had agreed to hold off on them and I’d have some time to think about what to do. The wood grain is good enough I guess, and I appreciate the work that went into building everything, but the paneled doors combined with a toe kick? Very eighties, and I hate it. […]

  • Kathryn
    April 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Learning experiences are never really easy. Also, with everything torn up it is hard to see the end goal. Communication is something a designer learns by practice and learning. Don’t be afraid to share your vision IN DETAIL…otherwise you will see the other guy’s interpretation. It will be okay and you have learned a valuable lesson as a designer.