A couple of summers ago, I found myself with a lot of time and an ever-shrinking budget. I was on a huge home improvement kick, and one of my goals was to corral the explosion of books everywhere in the house. I’ve always been a bookworm, and as much as I love the library, I love buying books even more. These days I’ve been really good about not purchasing any, but I still have way too many and I used to have enough to completely fill a room (oh, I dream of having a room I can call a “library”, I do). I actually shipped three boxes of books to Japan when I moved there to teach English back in the day. Then I shipped five boxes of totally different books back when I returned to the US. I have issues.
There’s this little dead space in our basement at the bottom of the stairs where I had a couple of small bookshelves M and I bought at Goodwill when we first moved in together. The bookshelves are shell pink and don’t hold much. They fit perfectly in the space so I was okay with the set-up.
While my DIY spirit was high though, I decided that the solution would be to build a custom floor-to-ceiling bookshelf in that dead space. I measured the length of the space, went to home depot and pestered two separate guys to cut six plywood boards to size. Then I got cheap brackets and some wood stain. I was inspired by this post by Manhattan Nest and got to work.
The staining went well, and K and a couple of her friends pitched in some. As a result, the staining is a bit uneven, but I knew it wouldn’t show. Then my ineptitude really revealed itself when I tried to drill the screws into the brackets railing thing and walls. I had to enlist my handy neighbor’s help when the shelves started to collapse. He gently chided me that I completely ignored the studs, and redid everything for me.
I love it! It fits almost all of M’s and my books (K has her own bookshelves), and I call it my mini-library. My photography skills aren’t good enough yet to get a decent photo given the position of the shelves and less than ideal lighting situation, but you get the idea. My rule of thumb for photos that are suck-o: desaturate.
Fast forward a year and a half, and the shelves started to take on a forgotten, dusty air. The books became disorganized, hastily piled near and around the bookshelves but not necessarily on them. Broken toys, spare change, fabric scraps started to fill the shelf edges and all in all, it was a mess.
Which is where the tolerations update comes in. My momentum stalled a bit in February, but I tackled one of the biggest projects: the basement. I started with the bookshelf and then cleared out the massive build-up of cardboard boxes, craft supplies, and general junk that had completely filled the basement. It’s not done yet and I still need to dive into making things look pretty and the bookshelf could use better organization, but you can actually walk through the room without limboing under towers of detritus.
It feels good. I’m becoming a tracking fiend, and I love seeing my list shrink. I started out with 108 items and was down to 93 by the end of January. Now my list is down to 75 items. Almost all the items were subitems of cleaning the basement, and there were a lot of subitems like “recycle cardboard boxes”, “reduce magazine collection to fit existing magazine boxes”, and “consolidate craft supplies by likeness (stamp supplies, ribbons/twine, fancy papers, etc.). At this rate, I might complete my list by the end of the year!
P.S. Sewing for myself didn’t happen this week and probably won’t happen next week as I’m in the throes of getting my book interior sketches done, but I have other fun sewing projects in the works!