In our town, we’re lucky to have a number places you can do fun things like read a book for free (and more)…. they’re called libraries, public libraries. I think libraries are awesome! When I was in middle school, I used to beg to not have to take the bus home, but rather walk across to the public library after school and hang out there. I was in heaven perusing reference books. Oh yeah!
I am a nerd, if you hadn’t previously noticed.
When I was young, I also dreamed of a house with a big library housing floor to ceiling books, a fireplace, a big, floor-standing globe, a cozy chair and blanket, and a table for my current volume and a cup of tea. All of it would be dark wood and leather and y’know, standard “dream library” fare. Like this, but more:
Of course, like most everyone, I grew up in reality and not in a fantasy world. I do not own a home large enough to house my dream library (at least not unless we all agreed to make our entire house one big room). Also, while I still love books and the idea of my awesome library, I actually would be quite happy with something less over-the-top. In fact, last year I decided shelves that could accommodate the books we already own could, in fact, fully embody the definition of library awesomeness.
At first I thought I didn’t want to cut corners and we looked a two not-so-budget-friendly options: built ins and nice quality furniture. Attic access above the area made the built-ins not possible and the expensive furniture seemed impractical somehow, given where we planned on putting them.
In the end, we went with uber-cheapo shelves (we’re talking two 7 foot high bookshelves, each of which cost $29 from Target and one $35 9-cube shelf unit, also from Target)… and we’re happy with it! And I do not even feel like we settled, really.
First, we found a place in our house where we had room. Namely, our upstairs hallway is rather wide and didn’t really serve a purpose beyond getting from one end of the upstairs to the other. It could easily hold a set of shelves without it feeling too overbearing in the space, especially if the shelves were a lighter color. We chose white shelves, partly because white shelves look, well, white (and not like the really bad fake wood on the $29 shelves). and partly because the white matches the woodwork color in our home and keeps things light in the hallway.
Next, we realized that the cheapo shelves needed something to ground them and also to make them look less cheap (we wanted budget-friendly, functional and not student hovel). I bought spray Elmer’s glue (Staples) and a navy and white batik-style fabric shower curtain (Target, sale, $13).
HOW TO: We assembled the shelves following instructions until it was time to add the card backing with tacks. We took the card backing and laid it right side up on the ground and sprayed liberally with the spray glue. Immediately, we pressed the shower curtain onto the tacky glue from one end to the other, taking care to stretch and smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles. We were also careful to avoid using the hemmed edges on our project as it is too thick to nail the provided tacks through to attach to the shelves and it would cause gapping between the backing and shelves. We chose to add our backing to the upper half only. Once the fabric was pressed into place, we trimmed the edges. We used scissors, but a circular cutter would have worked much better (I just don’t have one). Then we nailed the backing in place onto the shelves with the tacks provided, per the assembly instructions.
We placed our two tall units either side of a shorter 9-cube unit (also white finish, purchased at Target). We anchored the units to the wall for safety (after all, they would be stacked with books and with two small children we didn’t want any possibility of them falling). We also purchased a few of the fabric “drawers” for the cube unit. We chose navy to coordinate with the batik fabric backing on the tall shelves.
After putting the kids’ books on low shelves for their easy access and being sure to put the heavier books on the 2 shelves that the instructions indicated could take more weight, we filled in with some photos and accessories. We added some painted bird houses from one of our family project times to the tops for a splash of color and whimsy (also the top can’t have any weight at all, so these seemed like a great way to keep us from forgetting and chucking something heavier up there to get it “out of the way”).
Our kids use the library almost daily and I love having a (non- “boxed-up-shoved-in-storage”) place for our books. Plus, it cost us less than $150 for the entire project (including the shelves, cube unit, fabric drawers, batik fabric backing).
Do you have a special reading or book nook in your home?