During our many visits to the build of our new (and now previous) house, I took notice of the framing of an odd space. It seemed like an odd notch to leave, so I assumed it was intended to house ductwork or something of that nature. I kept it in the back of my mind for a future possible recessed bookcase project. As my oldest book-loving daughter crept into her teenage years, she was ready for a change in bedroom scenery. When I mentioned my idea, she wouldn’t stop asking when I was going to complete it. I was finally able to put it on the to do list to complete it over a weekend while my husband was away. That’s incidentally one of my favorite times to get things done because messes stress him out.  This project definitely generated some dust and mess.  

Before Book Shelf

The then existing bookshelf came from my sister when she moved across the country. It certainly served its purpose but wasn’t the nicest piece of furniture.

Blank Canvas for a Recessed Bookcase

I started off by drilling a hole at the bottom of the wall to check the depth of the space. It would have been terrible to start going crazy cutting away the drywall to find I wasn’t actually able to use it. The depth was about a foot, so I was safe.

My dad showed up to lend me some tools to make this job a little easier. One of those tools was a drywall saw. Using a square and tape measure, I penciled the line for sawing. It was essentially the edge of the wall’s 2 x 4’s. The top edge aligned with the door frame. My dad is not great at sitting idle, so he helped with sawing the drywall. I’ll rarely complain about free help. 

And of course, the kid crew sat and watched us work. The oldest monitored the progress to gauge how long until she’d get to load the shelves. 

Look at all that dead space behind the wall! I could have gone with a pull out bookcase with a hidden nook. 

 Can’t forget about the drywall behind the trim! I admittedly did at first but quickly realized it when fitting the shelf frame into the space. Certainly, the other option would be to cut out the trim as well, but I didn’t want to have to mess with cutting and all that extra stuff. 

Recessed Bookcase Shelf Build

Tools & Supplies

  • 3/4″ Plywood
  • 1/4″ Plywood
  • Wood Trim
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Square
  • Tape Measure
  • Nail Gun
  • Level
  • Clamps
  • Sand paper
  • Stain or Paint

Thankfully, this project didn’t stress the wallet (since it was pre-COVID wood price spike). The side pieces were cut to the height of the opening from floor to top. Then it was just a matter of cutting the top and shelves all the same size to fit in between the side panels.

As to be expected with any build, the level and square were necessary to ensure all the shelves would be level to the floor. The bottom shelf aligned with the height of the trim, so the trim would serve as the front space coverup. I stained all of my pieces with a white stain before putting them all together. With some glue and screws drilled into the shelf from the outside, the bookshelf was almost to the finish line.  

The 1/4″ board was cut to the full width of the shelf and nailed down with the nail gun. Let me tell you what; a decent nail gun makes a ton of difference when compared with a cheapy. It’s on my list of tools to geta better version. There are two types, a brad nailer and a finish nailer. A brad nailer would be best for the structural builds, while the finish nailer is best for baseboards or trim. The higher priced versions are both are likely to be battery operated as opposed to the less expensive, which require an air compressor. Just depends on what level of mobility is desired. 

Final Finishings of the Recessed Bookcase

With the constructed bookshelf in place, it was just a matter of affixing the sides to the existing studs with wood screws. I chose to cover the screw heads with wood filler that I then stained white to keep them from sight. 

Some inexpensive trim was last up. I cut the trim ends at the top at 45-degree angles with the miter saw to create the 90-degree angle. I used the finish nailer to secure it to the stud and bookcase edges. A bit of spackle and white paint was all that remained on the project to do list.

Later, when I wasn’t as happy with the floor ends of the trim being uneven with the floor trim, I decided to fill the space with wood filler. I used the dremel to sand it to a similar shape that melded with the floor. I was glad to have another project on which to practice my dremel skills. It definitely wasn’t excellent, but it did the job well enough.  I also covered the screw holes with wood filler as well. After a coating of stain on the screws and paint on the trim, it was good to go. 

After years of contemplation, it was super exciting to have finally pulled the trigger on the project. The outcome was visually more appealing than the previous bookshelf, a space saver, and my daughter absolutely loved it. Sometimes, I kick myself for waiting too long to try something new that is somewhat scary. I know the project may not always come out the best, but the win is in the free-fall plunge. Check out the rest of the room makeover here and revamp of the old bookcase into a Bakery and Lemonade Stand my 11-year-old used to make money for donation.

Go Ahead and Try Something New Today!

Studies suggest we fear an unknown outcome more than we do a known bad one.

Trying New Things. Why new experiences are so important to have

Benefits of trying something new:

  • Trying something new often requires courage
  • Trying something new opens up the possibility for you to enjoy something new.
  • Trying something new keeps you from becoming bored
  • Trying something new forces you to grow

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Leave a Reply

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