Last weekend we rearranged some bookshelves to try to get the apartment into a configuration that makes more sense. We have book storage needs in just about every room and, while in theory we have enough shelf space for all our books, we haven’t always managed to get everything in a place that allows us to take advantage of that. I did a similar rearrangement last year with tables and I’ve been most pleased with the results; bookshelves were the next part of the plan. I didn’t see how we could do it without buying something new, but Dan came up with the perfect solution:
- Purge the bedroom bookshelves of stuff we don’t need/want anymore to free up space for the expensive books we keep in the spare room. This would not only free up a shelf in the spare room but achieve the goal we were aiming for by putting the spendy stuff in the spare room in the first place, which was to keep it away from the cat. (We used to not let her in the spare room without supervision, but we’ve relaxed those rules since my allergies forced us to ban her from the bedroom and we felt bad about closing off so much of the apartment to her).
- Move the expensive books from the spare room into the bedroom, then move the spare room shelf to the living room.
- Move the living room shelf to the kitchen. Wanting that shelf in the kitchen was the desire that started this whole thing for me. The living room shelf was sturdy enough to hold the stereo but the sides were open and we didn’t have bookends good enough to hold up all my knitting and crochet books. Things got messy very quickly in the vicinity of that shelf. But the top shelf had sides and would hold my cookbooks quite nicely while the other shelves held overflow from the cabinets and this would make a decent placeholder until I get the Hutch of My Dreams. The shelf moving into the living room, being not only sturdier but much larger, would mean no worries about my glossy, well-illustrated hardcovers.
- Move the tiny, flimsy kitchen shelf into the spare room where there were now hardly any books it would need to deal with.
So, that was last Sunday. I was mostly happy with how everything looked when we set it all up but I wasn’t totally sure about the new-to-the-living room shelf. It’s one of those $25 Wal-Mart deals with the segmented cardboard backing. I’ve owned a lot of these in my time. This one was a holdover from an old life where if I got bored with a thing I painted it. The cardboard back had a still-life on it. A copy from someone famous, can’t remember who, not badly done considering, but just not doin’ it for me anymore. I haven’t been thrilled with it while it’s been in the spare room, but it was easy to ignore in there. After having been face to face with it for the last week, though, by yesterday I was certain it would no longer suffice. Something had to be done. Something involving lots of steps and the iron and the glue gun and one of those segmented razor blade clicky knife thingies. A project. A proper project, one that could be counted in episodes of Farscape, which is my preferred measurement of time.
I decided to cover the back in fabric. Dan was pulled in to assist. The supplies were gathered. The Wii remote was kept close at hand. And it began.
First we made the living room look like this:
(And one of us narrowly avoided some broken toes; if you’re tipping one of these contraptions forward, folks, please remember that 3 of the shelves slide right out without you even having to ask.)
Then I pulled out all 11 million tacks that were holding the back on. Most of them were happy enough to come out of the particle board but damn stubborn about coming out of the cardboard. For what reason, I have no idea; particle board is stronger than cardboard, yes?
I took my fabric (one of the few pieces I hung onto when I got rid of all my sewing supplies a few years ago; I knew I might want it for something some day and plus it’s purple), laid the backing on top, and cut the fabric closer to size, giving myself a pretty generous allowance.
I ironed the fabric as well as I could, then me and a bottle of Elmer’s had us a time.
While I wasn’t worrying too much about the private side of things here, I’m still pretty impressed with how neat I kept the edges.
Since this shelf is so much bigger than the one we had here before, I wanted to plan for it to hold more than the old one. It would need to hold the stereo, which we already knew it did perfectly from previous apartments with fewer bookshelf options, and it would need to hold all my yoga and knitting books. I also wanted it to hold yoga and knitting accessories. Finally, I had a sneaking suspicion that the very top would be a nice place to store Dan’s laminated Heroclix maps if only I could manage a way to keep them from rolling off.
Well, when pulling it apart we had rediscovered that this particular shelf had 2 cardboard backings on it because between the 2 of us Dan and I moved 9 times in the 2.5 or so years before we moved in together and that leads to a lot of excess and duplication. The standard-issue backing was the one getting upholstered, which left the still-life for hacking away at. And the factory-scored fold lines made what I had in mind so, so easy.
I cut a section of the spare backing down to a rectangle 4 inches deep on either side of the fold line and just wide enough to sit across the top of the shelf. I covered this in fabric just as I had the backing, then cut some right triangles out of the rest of the backing for support.
I folded the long piece to a 90° angle, Elmer’sed the triangles into place, tied some kitchen cotton around the whole thing to keep it sturdy, then reinforced the hell outta my triangles with the glue gun. (FYI, I set it to the “super hot and constantly dripping molten glue on everything nearby dear god help us aaaaaaaggggghhhhh” setting because I’m fearless like that. Also because apparently I like going around the house all afternoon picking dried glue stalagmites off of everything and certainly ruining whatever article of clothing I decide to iron next.)
Then Dan was called in again to display his exceptional reaching skills and he secured the little fence I’d made to the top of the shelf. Moving so quickly I barely managed to capture it, I might add.
He weighted down the fencey bit, set up the stereo, and then it was time for a little break. We’d made some progress but there was still a long way to go as far as living room tidiness was concerned.
I managed to get most of that taken care of last night, but I had to make 1 more push (and watch 1 more episode of Farscape – the finale, in fact) this morning before I could really call the whole thing done.
(As you may notice, by this time I had moved on to The Commander and, if you haven’t seen it, let me take this opportunity to say, “SKIIIIIIIIIIP IIIIIIIIIIIIT.” For serious. Maybe if they fit the same amount of plot into 2/3 the amount of time and/or if any of the actors had any chemistry whatsoever among any combination of them it would be worth a watch.)
And there you have it: 3 pieces of furniture ready to fulfill their purposes more fully than before, $0 spent, 6 episodes of Farscape and 1 exceptionally tidy living room.
Next stop: the spare room. ‘Cause you don’t even wanna see what still needs to be done in there.