Built-In Bookshelves Add A Quality Touch To Custom Homes

I see custom built-in bookshelves / bookcases in many of the upscale homes for sale that I visit. Many times they flank a fireplace, show themselves in a cozy den, keeping room or library and sometimes they are built in the sitting room of the master bedroom suite.

built-in_bookshelves_fireplace7.JPG

No matter how many times I see them, I never think to myself, “What in the world was going through the builder’s mind when they stuck them here?!” They are always a welcome sight because of their utility and space saving design.

I’ve gathered a few photos below of custom “built-in-the-wall” bookshelves / bookcases from my travels to homes under construction. Take a look to gather some ideas for your home.

There are 3 things I look for when I see custom built-in bookshelves / bookcases:

  1. Flexibility – Is the homeowner able to configure the shelves according to their personal wants and needs or are the shelves fixed?
  2. Quality – Are the bookshelves / bookcases made using quality materials and is it quality workmanship from top-to-bottom?
  3. Overall Design and Placement – Is the bookshelf / bookcase architecturally in keeping with the rest of the home’s design? Does it overpower the room its in or does it blend right in? How does the trim work look?

Below are many great ideas for built-in bookshelves / bookcases and some great looking fireplaces and mantles.

Notice the coffered ceilings and trim work… and please excuse the dust spots on some of the photos. It’s often difficult to keep a camera lens clean on a home construction site.

The idea here is to display your favorite books, framed photos of friends and family, pieces of art or small sculptures from your visits to places you’ve been to on vacation.

You also are able to hide all of the clutter for the items that you hold in your possession but do not necessarily want to display. All of these are personal choices when making interior design decisions for your home.

 

built-in_bookshelves_fireplace0.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace1.JPG

built-in_bookshelves_fireplace2.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace3.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace4.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace5.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace6.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace8.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace10.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace11.JPG

 
Want to see more photos of built-in bookshelves / bookcases?

 

built-in_bookshelves_fireplace12.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace13.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace14.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace15.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace16.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace17.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace18.JPG built-in_bookshelves_fireplace19.JPG

 

 

How about custom built-in bookshelves / bookcases in the master bedroom sitting room?

 

built-in-bookshelves_in_master_bedroom_sitting_room.JPG sitting_room_bookshelves.JPG

 

 

The Library is the obvious room to load up on built-in bookshelves / bookcases.

 

library_bookshelves_at_Sixty_Polk Street.jpg library_room_bookshelves.JPG stained_and_lacquered_built-in-bookshelves_in_library.JPG

 

Would you like to see a library that has four walls of built-in bookshelves with a hidden bookcase door?
Here are a few more areas of a home where built-in bookshelves work well.

 

built-in-bookshelves-in-stair-landing.JPG built-in-bookshelves-bedroom.JPG built-in_bookshelves_in_formal_dining_room.JPG dark-stained_built-in-bookshelves.JPG built-in-bookshelves_next_to_kitchenette.JPG unique_custom_built-in_bookshelves.JPG built-in bookshelves_under_construction.JPG

 

 

Here are a few of my favorite photos of built-in bookshelves.

 

entertainment_room_built-in-bookshelves.JPG built-in-bookshelves-used-as-kitchen-curio-cabinet.JPG built-in-bookshelves-English-cottage-den.JPG

 

Now aren’t you glad you took the time to gather ideas for your built-in bookshelf project?

Randy Boerstler

Writing a home building blog that chronicles new homes during different phases of construction from a consumers' point-of-view is rather unique and loads of fun. Basically, my tips are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building a quality home. So let's have fun seeing what's new in the housing market these days!

More Posts

Follow Me:
Google Plus

Fun From Around the Web

  • Tony

    We would like to incorporate built-ins around our fireplace in a family room. Unfortunately the builder put the fireplace nearly flush to the existing wall with little or no depth options. That means we would either have to build “out” instead of “in” giving the appearance of a recessed fireplace, completely demolish the exterior wall and extend the roofline to allow for built-in cabinets. The second approach seems cost prohibitive as does the third option of building out the fireplace. Have you seen a recessed approach before for the fireplace?

  • Tony

    We would like to incorporate built-ins around our fireplace in a family room. Unfortunately the builder put the fireplace nearly flush to the existing wall with little or no depth options. That means we would either have to build “out” instead of “in” giving the appearance of a recessed fireplace, completely demolish the exterior wall and extend the roofline to allow for built-in cabinets. The second approach seems cost prohibitive as does the third option of building out the fireplace. Have you seen a recessed approach before for the fireplace?

  • Judy Nastase

    We want built-in bookshelves on either side of our fireplace, but each wall has a heating vent built in the baseboard, How can we build bookshelves around this and still have the vents function?

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      Judy…
      Since you are going the custom route, try having the vent built-in between the bottom of the bookshelf and the floor with a wood vent cover. Look at the top photo in the following ling to get an idea of what I’m talking about. Good luck.
      http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/2009/08/hidden_bookcase_doors.php

  • Judy Nastase

    We want built-in bookshelves on either side of our fireplace, but each wall has a heating vent built in the baseboard, How can we build bookshelves around this and still have the vents function?

  • Matt

    we would like to build a combo desk and entertainment center out of the closets (side by side). I would appreciate any ideas. We are more modern in our design tastes. We have a space that is 96 inches by 30 inches.

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      If you are going to combine a desk with an entertainment center, you want to design it so that the desk area can be completely closed when not in use to avoid clutter.
      There are a couple of ways to do this:
      1) Use the Murphy bed concept. Use a full sized door that is closed until you are ready to work, then open the door and fold down your desk. The lower section would be used for the printer, files, etc. When you are finished, fold the desk back up and close the door.
      2) Another idea is to have doors only on the lower sections, again to conceal the hardware. Put a slide out tray behind a drawer front to use as a desk then closed when not in use. See this link for an example: http://www.bhg.com/decorating/makeovers/room-ma

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      Matt… If you are going to combine a desk with an entertainment center, you want to design it so that the desk area can be completely closed when not in use to avoid clutter.
      There are a couple of ways to do this:
      1) Use the Murphy bed concept. Use a full sized door that is closed until you are ready to work, then open the door and fold down your desk. The lower section would be used for the printer, files, etc. When you are finished, fold the desk back up and close the door.
      2) The other way is to have doors only on the lower sections, again to conceal the hardware. Put a slide out tray behind a drawer front to use as a desk then closed when not in use.

  • valerie francis

    I need built in bookcase to be done next to my fireplace.
    Looking for something simple and inexpensive.

  • Amy

    What is the average cost for these built in cabinets around a fireplace?

  • Donna

    Thanks for a great blog! Great information. I have a question and
    want to get your opinion.
    I have a built in bookcase that needs to serve as a platform for our
    huge 50″ flat screen TV. Trust me, there is no other spot in our open
    den for the TV. We have a room covered in a maple colored wood judges
    paneling. It is quite nice, but I want to update the room and the
    built ins. I propose that we cut out the center (adjustable shelf)
    post to provide space for the TV and leave the top adjustable shelf
    post in place for the 2 higher shelves. We could trim it out and make
    it look like a cabinet on the bottom that holds a TV (like a
    console)with shelves above that.
    My question is this. Should we put bead board up and paint the back
    of the bookcases in a lighter color so that what is put there will
    really pop? Would judges panel and bead board go together? I can send
    you a photo if you would like.
    Thanks,
    Donna

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      @ Donna…that would be great if you could send a photo. If you’re talking about painting it a light color behind the television, I would not do that. I think the a tv screen looks better with a dark background. That, of course, is a personal preference.
      As to your ? regarding the judges paneling next to the bead board…I actually have adjoining rooms with these same two types of trims below the chair rail and it looks great. It really comes down to what YOU like.

  • Peconomus

    I have 2 openings beside my fireplace and would like to build units with glass doors–etched or patterned–who can i contact about getting some ideas.

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      @ Peconomus…talk to your friends and co-workers for references. They are an invaluable resource. You could also google it with your zip code and see what comes up.

  • Ccm2

    I love all your ideas, but I am torn… I am adding a new living room/den and we will have 24′ of built in entertainment center and book shelves and 2 doors to closet behind. Our kitchen will be looking into this new lving room and the kitchen cabinets are all oak. Do we need to continue with the oak on the built in? I am scared it will be too much oak? My furniture in mostly cherry and mahogany. And we will have hard wood gunstock floors. I am scared it will be too much wood, too dark. I am just going crazy trying to make this decision. I love all your design looks and they have been real helpful in the plan of the unit, just can’t decide about the color. thanks for any advice

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      @CCM2…If the room is a little dark you could always use paint-grade wood for the cabinetry and paint it light colors on the outside of the units and paint a contrasting dark color inside of the shelving units, if there are any. Or go with a lighter color on the shelves, inside and out. That will keep the room light. You could also throw down a rug, or two, to brighten things up and break up all that wood.

  • Colleencc

    The spaces on either side of my fireplace are fairly wide — am I better to have longer, shorter shelves to keep things in proportion? I am thinking that keeping the bookshelves at the same height of the fireplace or shorter might look better than making them higher….is this a better idea?

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      Colleen…we have two bookshelves that flank our fireplace. They are approximately 18″ taller than the top of the mantle and look great. If you think that will overpower the room, scale it down and go for the shelves that are 12″-18″ shorter than the top of your mantle. Whatever you do, don’t make them the same height. Thanks!

  • Luvinlife30

    I’d like to see pictures with stuff in them. Trying to figure out how to hide the cords for the tv, playstation and blueray player!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1590055480 Rory Vanlandingham

    We have a home built in 1978 that has one wall with a 120″ window with full built-in bookshelves flanking either side. The wood is stained a dark walnut color and there is not very much architectural detail on the shelving such as a nice trim. They go all the way to the 8′ ceiling too and the dividers are staggered on each shelf. I am thinking about painting them as I really do not like the color and I want to brighten up the room as it is north-facing. Would some type of molding around the tops and sides be too hard to add after the fact? What about painting bookshelves that have already been stained and polyeurethaned even though it was years ago. What kind of prep is involved, what kind of paint, and how well would it hold up?
    Rory

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      Rory…great questions! 10′ of window…WOW! Painting and trimming them out is definitely the way to go to update the bookshelves. Small, decorative trim pieces that are ready-made (scrolls, etc) could be tacked in place on the center (larger) and smaller decorative trim pieces for the upper corners would be a nice touch. I would definitely tack in some crown molding on the tops of both and a nice baseboard molding with ¼ round shoe trim at the bottom to finish it off. You would be surprised at how much nicer a shelf will look if you apply inside-corner trim where you can or outside corner trim. Keep it simple to emphasize the focus here…the books and other things you like to have on display.
      As far as the painting is concerned, I like the dramatic effect of light outer colors (including the shelves) and paint the side walls and back wall with a very dark color. before you paint you will need to clean the wood with a water/TSP solution to remove ALL of the dirt and grime. After that, take some 100 grit sandpaper and start sanding (with the grain, of course). Use tack cloth to remove all of the dust and begin the painting process. You can use a latex-based paint for ease. Be sure to apply primer first, though. Apply 2-3 coats allowing them to dry thoroughly between each coat. Oil-based will give a nice, hard sheen and wear a little better than latex, although it is a little more difficult to clean up…who am I kidding? It’s a pain to clean up but the results are magnificent.
      Hope that helps. Let me know how it turns out.

  • Ricky

    Dear Randy,
    Our living room walls are covered in faux brick, and 2 walls have large windows. That leaves us with a shorter wall, 96 inches for built in bookcases. In your experience, is that enough for this set-bookcase/fireplace/bookcase?

  • CT

    Randy,

    Can you give me some advice on how to (or even if too) build units around a fireplace that does not stick out. The units would be built out as there is not room to build in. Ii am concerned about it being to boxy around the area above the mantly. Also, because of the curve of the mantle ends we are unsure how to make the unit flush to the side of the molding around the fireplace. Hope this makes sense.

    • http://homebuilding.thefuntimesguide.com/ Randy

      CT…What you could do is to make the bookcases a little less wide and have 1/4 round shelves on the inner portion of each bookcase. They can be attached to either side or just the inner portion, depending on your preference. They will be the same heighth as the bookcase they are attached to.  This will lessen the severity of the boxiness and make them seem to blend in a little more. Does that make sense to you?

  • http://heritagecrownaz.com/ Matt Price

    Really beautiful work. I think custom mantels and other millwork really makes a house feel more like a home. It definitely helps to warm the space up.

  • RackeSRN

    WOW! I have been hunting for built in book shelve ideas to turn my spare room under the eaves/attic into an office. I love the pic of the “girl’s room” in the English style cottage and think that could easily be adapted into a functional office desk/shelving unit. I have that “exact” wall with the window location and this looks ideal! How difficult do you think it would be to extend the desktop around the corner onto a perpendicular wall? Do you think that would disrupt the continuity and the flow of the angular shelving on the wall with the window? If feasible, should I aim to keep the desk and shelving on the perpendicular wall at the height where the ceiling and the wall join?

  • Suzanne Allen

    Looking for some advice on redoing this room. We want built in bookshelves but And can’t decide between white or stain. The walls will be soft yellow with white trim but I like the look of the old reddish brick fireplace and don’t wan to paint or whitewash it. The tv was at an angle in the corner on the left but that will block the bookshelf and the ceiling is low to mount it above the fireplace an then we couldn’t see it from the kitchen, where we watch from often. The only other option is between windows on the left which would create another focus. people have suggested putting it in front o the fireplace since we don’t use it often anyway. Help!