The purpose for our nook: Sit. Relax. Enjoy music. We knew this would be our funny little room to play our records (man, we‘ve really been missing our records!), read a good book and hang with the pets. A few readers mentioned here that they could totally see our girls sneaking into this room, baking in the sun and leaving only in the evenings to fill up on tuna. These comments were so endearing to me, that my only hopes for this room is to make that true.
To make this happen, we’ll still need to find the perfect body-hugging chair, and we’re working on piecing together our former living room’s Flor tiles (although we’re thinking those will be for the interim). We also needed a place to stash our vinyl collection, and as we mentioned after painting the room green, we finally assembled an Ikea Vittsjo unit that was originally intended for the kitchen – which, by the way, will mean we’ll need to get another one for the kitchen. They’re inexpensive, well made (for Ikea), and the perfect alternative to, say, the much-loved Expedit or Billy bookcases. But because records are heavy, we needed to reinforce the glass shelves they come with for something that can bear the weight:
Like most Ikea pieces, there are many, many ways to hack an item – so many! Kate at Centsational Girl has a great write-up on nothing but Vittsjo ideas, and while we toyed with the idea of a different color altogether, we actually really liked the matte black finish for this room (the kitchen, however, may get a whole different treatment!). Our plan? We wanted to add wood shelving not only for the warm look it would provide, but again, to give us enough support for all of our records.
The original glass shelves actually sit on small tabs inside the steel frame, and we would need to fit shelves to sit on top of the steel frame. (Support, support, support!) The measurement needed for each shelf was 14 1/4″d X 39 3/8″w, which meant that our (more affordable) options were mostly limited to 4×8 sheets, as common board planks only have a depth of 11 1/2.” This, of course, turned into quite the debate at the store, as we couldn’t bring ourselves to purchase the smaller laminated pine sheets that would allow for only one shelf per board. That would’ve added a cost of $80 to a $70 shelf, which felt silly.
After walking up and down the aisles for a ridiculous amount of time (and considering buying MDF and just painting the shelves), we finally decided to buy a 4′x8′ sheet of birch plywood for $40. We chose a sheet with a nice grain, and we had the sheet cut down in the store for all of our shelves! After ripping the whole board down to 39 3/8″, a friendly sales associate continued to cut that down to 14 1/4″ planks, which gave us enough for 6 shelves – leaving us with 1 extra (always good to have in case of a mistake!).
Now that we had our shelves, we would need to notch out the room needed for the vertical supports, so I made a paper template. For anyone wanting to do the same, these were the measurements needed on our 14 1/4″d X 39 3/8″w stencil:
We laid our template on each shelf, I traced the notches with pencil, and Scott used a jigsaw to cut out the little squares needed for the vertical supports.
Each shelf got a good sanding, then I spent the next couple of days staining and applying Polycrylic to each one. For the color, I used two coats of Minwax Special Walnut, which is a shade we’ve come to love for a true medium brown (no reddish tint!). I followed the stain with two coats of Polycrylic, giving it a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper between coats one and two. We allowed the shelves to dry for a week before putting our heavy records on them – although to be honest, it was simply because life got busy (and an extended dry time never hurt, right?)
With our shelves ready to go, we would need to add horizontal supports on the sides of the bookcase if we wanted our records to have a place to lean. The negative space between the front and back vertical supports is almost 13,” and with a record being 12,” well, we would need to remedy that. Scott suggested we use these 3/4″w aluminum flat bars (so smart!), cut them down to size and screw them directly into the bookcase…
Like this! We sprayed them with matte black paint (using a spray primer first), and touched up the screw heads with a cotton swab. One of our favorite tricks for spray paint touch up? Spray the paint directly in the lid, then use the little pool of paint with a small brush or cotton swab to cover up what you need:
After I loaded our records on the bottom two shelves, I very excitedly went through each of our still packed (!) boxes labeled decor. Oh, I was so happy to see our old vases, cameras and mini Polaroids. I scattered a few favorite pieces around the house (including my hot pink Sexy Rexy, which I couldn’t run up to the studio fast enough!), but finally settled on this still in-progress shelving set up.
Our main hesitation in choosing plywood for the shelves was knowing that we’d be able to see the edges (which is not plywood’s finest point), and you know what? We kind of love them. The birch plywood we chose has a beautiful grain on the surface, and seeing those laminated edges really – like, really, really – doesn’t bother us like we thought they might.
As much as I love a good photo of Jack (I mean, you know we’re obsessed with him), he would not move out of this shot. He does this funny side smile and won’t make eye contact when he’s being stubborn, which is exactly what he’s doing here. In any case, I’m taking the photo below while being tucked way back in the corner – eventually, this will be where the turntable will sit on a little bureau of some sort – to give you an idea of just how adorably small this nook is. Our giclée print mimics the colors in our records on the opposite side of the room, which makes us happy.
Our chair, ottoman and Flor-tiles-to-be are still in flux (especially the chair), not because we don’t like the way it looks, but because we definitely imagine something cozier. Warmer. The girls – and me, too! – need a good napping chair.
We’re almost positive we’ll be putting another Vittsjo in the kitchen for open storage, and we’ve been tossing around ideas for how we’ll handle that one. A bright color? Blue? Pink? White? Wood shelves again? We love a good Ikea makeover, and we’re sure you’ve got some up your sleeves, too! Can we see?
PS… Better Homes & Garden has nominated these two kids as the top 5 in the Decorating category of their Blogger Awards! We’re still speechless that we’ve made it to this point (we’re in pretty fantastic company; we urge you to check out all the finalists), and we’d love a vote from you! Voting can be done once an hour and runs through March 5th. Winners in each category will be mentioned in an upcoming issue of BHG – crazy! Click here to vote. Thank you; we love you. XO.