Built in shelves for my home office design

Use your wall spaces:
recessed shelving

To create: Built in shelves recessed in the wall — with smooth edges — no trim:

recessed shelving built between the studsmy crazy crafty office remodelWhile I had my walls open during my office renovation, I used the opportunity to create some recessed shelving — making us of the space in between the studs — above where my collage working area would be. In addition, I want to point out: The edges of the shelving where it meets the drywall are smooth — we used a special drywall edger so that there is no trim required. Read on for more info and photos on how my contractor accomplished this beauteousness –>

Framing for recessed shelving:

Start by deciding where you want the shelving and frame it out between the studs. I wanted those bottom cubbies to sit just above my tall countertop (my countertop sits 38″ high) so we planned accordingly. The box on the right is for the vintage medicine cabinet, which I added for decorative effect. And I also installed my vintage Sunbeam Appliance Center in the smaller bottom box second from the right. You will also see we planned for two additional countertop-height electrical outlets and another one near the floor. And on the far left, top, that’s the thermostat for the added electric baseboard heater we put under the window. We also replaced all the insulation in all the walls.

recessed shelvingHere’s the order the actual install was completed: Frame for the recessed opening. Add insulation. (Oh, and I don’t talk about all the permits and inspections at the various steps — we did all those things.)

drywall first boxes next

Then my contractor Kevin put up the drywall — right over everything. Then he cut the drywall to reveal the openings.

Use a special L-bead to finish the drywall so it needs no wood trim molding:

drywall l-bead

He then installed the boxes right into the openings. He used finish-grade plywood, in case I decided to stain the shelves vs. paint them. He then installed the drywall L-bead — this is also called corner bead — edging…I *think* that is what it is called… i *think* it is pretty commonly available….

draywall L-beadfinishing the drywall and l-bead edgeThen, everything got drywall seam finish or whatever. Above: You can see my first coat of primer on the metal bead — which is magnetic, I have discovered! Super cool benefit I wasn’t even anticipating!

built in shelving

Above: I want you to see how beaded edge gave me a nice smooth look around a shelving area that already was “busy” because the shelving was small. In addition, it gave me the opportunity to keep the focus on my crazy quilt wallpaper installation. The whole recessed shelving thing was a pain in the neck to install, though, I’m thinking it added a small bundle to my contractor bill because it was “fussy”.

Step: I painted the shelves — two coats — BEFORE I primed the metal trim and BEFORE I wallpapered. I let the paint dry a good long time — because I knew that later, I would have to trim wallpaper from it, and I didn’t want any unwanted adhesion going on. This drying process was particularly important because it was very humid while we were working on the wallpaper. It took a long time for that high-gloss paint to harden.

built in shelvingAbove: On this wall — which backs up the downstairs bathroom, we had lots more depth. Like 11″. So I specified two deep, tallish recessed shelves that on the left, the shelf sits behind the door when it’s open to the basement family room, which is most of the time.

built in shelving recessed into wallwallpapered wood trimTo create and finish the deep shelf: Same process, but in this case, the wall was uneven to the opening, so we did not use the L-bead/corner bead. We used regular wood trim to finish the boxes. I wallpapered the trim. The wallpaper is duct-taped on, then I nailed in the pieces with finishing nails.

wallpapering the edges of recessed shelvingWallpapering the edges of the smooth-edged shelving was also fussy. I first put a bit of wallpaper like this.

doing the cornersThen I mitered in the actual bigger piece over. This is messier than it looks in real life — I would go back with a razor or exacto after everything was dry and clean up that edge. That said, it ain’t perfect, because I get too impatient. Not to worry. The Retro Decorating Gods get angered when you get attached to the idea that everything should be perfect; only they are perfect.

installing wallpaper around rounded edgesI used all kinds of tricks to get the wallpaper to stick onto the metal. Even though I had primed the metal twice, getting the wallpaper to stick was sometimes tricky — it very much depended on the paper. The key was to get the paper to dry in place without lifting. I also used super magnets to hold the paper down — I love magnets!!! Also, see how the lavendar wallpaper looks discolored while soaked with wallpaper paste? It dried fine. But you might want to test first. See my big story on how to wallpaper a wall with vintage wallpaper for lots of tips.

Shelf pegs with brass grommets

shelf pegs with grommetsKevin knew how to do shelf pegs with grommets. I chose brass grommets. A great little finishing touch. Groovy baby. Kevin was way into my project by this point. He is THE BEST CONTRACTOR EVER.

Bottom line lesson: If your walls are open, use the opportunity to add recessed shelving, if it suits the needs of the space. In a bathroom wall — there may be many more inches of depth to work with — which may be a read godsend if the bathroom is small (like in many of our midcentury houses) and you want/need more storage space. Note, I also did a recessed 8″ cabinet in my small master bathroom. It’s really great to have the depth. I made doors for it with vintage shutters.

Final tip: I doubt that I would ever do this on outside wall — you need the full benefit of insulation and sealing there. Consult with a properly licensed professional before considering this option.

vintage medicine cabinet in my officeEven my adding this vintage medicine cabinet — which I found at an estate sale like 10 years ago (!) and had hoarded in the attic all that time — was a move to add more storage space. Make sure when you install these, that the door swings the correct way; I think it’s bad feng shui when details like that are wrong. In addition, I love how the medicine cabinet adds a non-square decorative flourish to my crazy quilt office.

Ta da.

See all the stories about my crazy craft office remodel by clicking here.

Get our retrolicious free newsletter.

Newsletter-sign-up-2NMAS

Comments

  1. JKaye says

    I think the best part about your room project is that you are doing the room to suit yourself and your needs, and not worrying about potential resale issues. That’s a line we often hear, about how we shouldn’t do this or that because it could affect the house’s resale value. But, if you know you plan to live somewhere for awhile, then, it seems good to go ahead and enjoy your house. It certainly looks like you will be having an enjoyable time in your very special, just-for-you, office.

  2. says

    This looks so seamless! I love the way this came out (and the wallpaper quilt design is absolutely fabulous, what a project to take on!) I think built in shelving adds so much character overall, but this is even beyond that, so cool. What a bright and sunny (and practical!) space this will be to work in!

  3. says

    Awesome Pam! Great job! I love the vintage medicine cabinet and the recessed shelving….so very chic! I am a vintage nut and I’ve always loved the Paris look. Your office space is turning out magnificently. I love your strong willed determination and tenacity! Love! You rock!

  4. ChrisH says

    I’m doing something similar in my bathroom. Not doing wallpaper though. I like the way you handled the corners with the paper.

  5. Laurie V says

    Wow it’s like the ’60s & ’70s threw up in there. I love it. It reminds me of Holly Hobby for some strange reason. I miss Holly Hobby. Anyway I love the look! It just looks like a happy place. :)

    • pam kueber says

      Umm. Thank you. Threw up in an orderly aesthetically pleasing and inspiring way :). Yes, I agree on the Holly Hobby, now that you mention it. I need to go look at vintage HH.

  6. lynda says

    Very clever planning! I have also created space in bathrooms this way. I have made the wood trim and the shelves about 2 inches deeper so I can fit towels, tissues, etc. on the shelves. I have also tiled niches in tub/shower areas for shampoo and soap. I used this idea once to install a closet from Ikea. I did not have enough depth to keep the regular closet because I used 4 inches of the original closet to add to the adjacent bath so a tub could be installed. The Ikea cabinet sticks out in the room about 4 inches and it looks great. Since the wall behind the closet did not have to be framed, the size of the studs could be added to the available depth for the closet.

  7. Kate H says

    I love the shelves behind the door. Genius. Esp if you are a book junkie and have too many anyway like me, this is a perfect way to shelve and store ‘em without feeling like they are taking over your house.

  8. Ilana says

    You’re just the greatest! I’m so sick of the sea of white bathrooms and typical designs. Your space rocks! So creative and inspiring. Thank you for what you do, I check this blog all the time now.

  9. says

    Hi, I’m new to your blog – I found you through Craftzine. I love patchwork so I feel very inspired by your patchwork wallpaper :) looking forward to future posts! Maggie xx

    • pam kueber says

      Welcome, Maggie! Yes, from craftzine readers coming over, I learned I should really call it patchwork (not crazy quilt!). that word was surely in my brain — i had just forgotten it! crazy quilt patchwork — how’s that!

      • says

        Pam, my brain didn’t even pick up on that! Yes, it’s patchwork. Crazy patchwork usually called ‘crazy quilting’ is a patchwork of different shapes and is not a repeat pattern.

        Yours is definitely repeat pattern. 277 pieces of repeat pattern!

  10. Beth says

    Love the space, Pam! And those shelve grommets? Fantastic! It does sound like Kevin is the best contractor ever. Do you think he would come down to Lexington, KY? Lol :-)

  11. says

    You had lots of fun papering around those cubbies, didn’t you? glad I was gone by the time they could be worked on. Yes, selfish, I’m so selfish. xxoo

  12. says

    Looks great! There just can’t be too much storage or display space, right? You might have mentioned this in another post, but what is the wired item in the recessed shelves on the lower row? Looks like a fitted radio or other electronic device…

  13. Panzyzz says

    I have been thinking about doing this forever as my dining room is not big enough for a side buffet. The wall is between the dining room and an office so it doesn’t need insulation. Wish I had done it when the room was drywalled, but I think we can cut holes in it now. Thanks for this post Pam!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *