Updated: the final product!
I am pant-peeingly excited about this. Last week, my dream bookshelf was finally completed. This is an idea that I have been brewing and thinking about since about the middle of last year, so to see it finally go up and completed was the most satisfying thing.
The source of my inspiration was these two shelves from Bookshelf Porn:
We've done renovations in our flat before and learnt from the experience that to get someone to actually show up to do the work you're hiring them to do in Cape Town is a feat not to be underestimated. We've had multiple people in the industry simply not arrive, never to be heard from again. We were all set to have the person who built our kitchen install the bookshelf too, but sadly he did not come and we were left storing a large pile of wood in our 40-something square metre flat for months. We tried re-arranging with him on three occasions, and when it got to the fourth we admitted defeat and turned to the Gumtree.
The wood: We used 32mm thick Supawood because it is really strong and looks great. We took the risk and measured (I am a very bad measurer, added to which the walls were built in the 1970s and are not straight), and ordered it ourselves from Lumber City in Woodstock. I would never have attempted this if our original cupboard guy hadn't stood us up so many times. Desperate times called for desperate measures. Sure enough there were some bloopers made, but Martini Works rolled with it and adapted the shelves to match.
No post of this nature would be complete without an ugly "before" picture. This is what the living space of our apartment looked like when we bought it. Digging the carpet tiles.
The very beginning: Magic Marker outlines! First I took to the wall with a pencil and eraser, and once I was satisfied with the compartments I broke out the spirit level, a metal ruler and the Magic Marker and inked them on more permanently.
The paint: We used 7 different colours for the walls. I bought tester-sized pots from Builders Warehouse. In addition to that we painted two coats of wood primer (base coat) on, and 2 coats of gloss enamel over that. After the 2 coats of gloss enamel we had to go over some areas again. Down the side, we painted 3 coats of chalkboard paint.
Bookshelf compartments painted. I knew it would be an extremely fiddly job painting inside of all the compartments so I decided to paint them onto the wall before the shelf got installed.
When those colours first went onto the wall they were a huge shock as they were so bright and busy, and we were quite used to our dull empty white wall. We knew though that it would be toned down once the shelves were up and painted and stacked.
Figuring out measurements. Now that everything was drawn up on the wall, it was time to figure out the dimensions of all the separate pieces we'd need to order.
I did this by re-drawing a rough sketch of the shelf on paper and using different colour highlighters to mark off each piece so that we could figure out where we could incorporate the longest pieces.
If you try this at home, remember to deduct the thickness of the board from each bit when you write down the measurements (in our case, 32mm). One mistake that we made was to put the two outermost boards on the side of the bottom board, instead of resting ontop. We wrongly thought that the structure would be stronger for it, but in fact the opposite is true.
The frame was assembled on the ground first and then flipped up and attached with L brackets to the wall.
Installed shelves, ready for painting. As you can see, the paint lines were not 100% straight because I measured the little feet down at the bottom incorrectly. It was fine though, because touching the compartments up was way less painful than it'd have been to paint them all from scratch.
Smartiepants Scott had the brainy idea to buy a small artist's paintbrush to use to do the corners and it made a world of difference touching up all the little blips around the edges with that.