Before & After: Built-In Shelves

published Feb 16, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

You know the pair of built-in dresser drawers in my master bedroom? Well, there’s a smaller second bedroom that has just one set of drawers on the left side of a similar dormer window. On the opposite side of the dormer, there used to be just a blank wall. It was a blank slate, an opportunity to install a partner to the dresser:

My husband and I came up with a shelf design as a complement to the dresser. A second dresser wouldn’t be necessary, as this bedroom would only be for one person instead of two as in the master bedroom. So we set out to have shelves made that aligned with the drawers of the dresser. And we got started on the demolition it would take to make room for the installation.

We cut the hole in the plaster wall ourselves. This was no small feat, as it created a lot of dust and garbage and the wall had to be reframed around the opening. Once the wall was cleaned up and prepared for the shelf to be installed, we had a cabinetmaker friend of ours come over and take final measurements. He shop-built the shelf as one piece and brought it in to install in the wall opening. Finishing it out with trim to match the existing trim on the dresser drawers really melded the shelf into place and it felt like it was original to the house.

I had always heard that an update to the home can be deemed successful if it feels like it’s always been there. That’s how I ended up feeling about this small change to the bedroom: the shelves fit in well and complete the space. Plus, they’ll be useful for a small child, an older child, and for an office way down the road when we’re empty nesters. With this kind of longevity, I am happy with the value of this project.

Project Costs:
demo: $0 (we did it ourselves)
shelf construction and installation: $500
electrical outlet: $0 for labor (we did it ourselves) and about $24 for materials