Sunday, November 3, 2013

Project Neverland (Part I)

One of my goals for the next year, is to make our home EXACTLY how we would want it to be, and THEN see if we still want to sell it. What have we got to lose, right? If it is perfect and we are content, we will have the home we want to spend the rest of our lives in. If it isn't what we want, it will be in excellent condition for selling in the future. Win-Win!
 This is Neverland. We like to give our rooms names from books and our library/rec room/play room has been lovingly called Neverland since we made Blossom Cottage our home. After 6 years of living here and deciding that we weren't going to be selling our home and traveling the country this year, I finally decided to dive in and attempt to create the Neverland I have envisioned since we first walked through this home.
  The most obvious obstacle with Neverland was the fact that it was extremely dark and very dated. I knew I didn't want to put sheetrock up (anyone who has done sheetrock knows why) and I knew that I didn't have a lot of money to spend (in fact, I had $0 to spend, as almost our entire tax return went towards paying off a broken arm that ended up needing surgery....yeah).
 I knew that I wanted to do floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along this wall, but I had the issue of this window (which actually goes to nowhere. Apparently, when one of the previous owners of this house added on a beautiful bay window to the kitchen above Neverland, they decided that it would be best to have a view to the dirt from the room below). I also had the heat register in the ceiling and the electrical outlet to deal with. I decided that the bookshelves couldn't go to the ceiling and that I would cut a hole in one of the bookshelves, problems solved.....except for the window. I think I spent a few weeks just trying to decide how to deal with the window.
I spent the next couple of months saving money (I made off of selling furniture we no longer needed) and stalking the online classifieds for bookshelves. I finally had enough shelves (6) to fill most of the wall. They are all laminate and ranged between $10-$15 a piece (which was easy for me to do). Notice, all of these are different. I did find a couple that were a little similar, but even those ones were a little different.
 I decided that we would insulate the window, cover it with wood and then put another piece of wood over the hole in the wall. I toyed with the idea of having a secret compartment to hide our loot in....but then I remembered we don't have any loot (and I was too lazy to figure out how to do a false back on one of the shelves, etc.). I had Ethan remove the molding around the outside of the window, as it would only get in the way of the board I planned on putting there.

 I used a piece of the foam board from the bus conversion to fill in the one side of the window....
We put in a board and reinforced it with some strips of wood. It was nice and tight, nothing is getting in through that window. I also used this part of the wall to test a little of the paint (I already had a 5 gallon bucket of Swiss Mocha paint I had gotten for a steal -$20- that I was going to use on the bus, but decided to stain the cabinets and doors in there instead) on the wall to see which painting technique I was going to use on the awesome 70's wood paneling.
 Once we had the window securely covered, we began attaching all of the bookshelves to the wall (like you would if you were securing them for an earthquake, from the top). We also used liquid nails, gluing them all together and using the nail gun to reinforce them.
 I measured out and made a hole with my jigsaw for the one electrical outlet on that wall. I knew that I would probably never use it, because there are already 4 other outlets in that room, but it is always best to have options for later on.

 I couldn't decide how to finish the hole that was in the back of the bookshelf, but I decided that it really wouldn't matter that much. My plan was to have it covered by books most of the time.
 I began painting and was pleasantly surprised to find how much it REALLY brightened up the room. Neverland was going to bright and cheerful, after all. YAY!
 It took me many hours to finish up the walls, because I chose to go with a dry-brush process. It is my favorite technique for painting and I was so happy with how it turned out. So worth the extra time it took me! Here, you can see the doors to the under-bench storage area.
 I was so happy with the way these doors turned out. These are the doors to the furnace room, where we store a few Rubbermaid bins, full of rotating toys.
 I found some leftover base board in the garage and decided to use it along the bottom. I also planned on using some of the crown molding I have been collecting over the past few years, but I didn't have enough of any of the pieces I had, so I ordered some (the biggest expenditure of Project Neverland) for a whopping $32 (would have cost me over $80 in the hardware store). I then put some 2x4s along the top of each shelf, to give the crown molding somewhere to attach to. I lightly sanded and painted the shelving with a gripper (both of these steps are a must for laminate).
I had Aaron help me remove the decorative pieces that were on the top of the end shelves (I had thought about making similar ones for all the rest of the shelves, but decided it would be silly, since they would be mostly hidden with the crown molding I was going to attach along the top). Anyways, I wanted to put this photo in here, just as a means of proof that Aaron does sometimes help me out with my crazy projects, on occasion....hey, I will take the help wherever I can get it!
I cut a board for the inside of the top of the window opening. I painted it a dark brown.


 Then I went over that with some white paint and a dry brush, to attempt to get a matching look to the rest of the wall it would be going on. 
 I had Ethan find some 2x4 pieces and attach them around the inside of the opening, to attach the cover to.
 I used some painters tape to indicate where the edges of the 2x4s were located. I wanted to be sure to hit them, when nailing through the piece of wood that would be covering the opening.
 I let Ethan do the nailing....he loves to help out (and I love that!).
My plan, once I realized I wouldn't be able to go all the way to the ceiling, was to make a wooden sign with a cute quote from Peter Pan for above the shelves. Because of this, I wasn't overly worried about the way the window covering looked. I was also able to have Aaron and Ethan hold the crown molding up long enough for me to nail it in. See? You can't even tell that these shelves were different heights, anymore. I attached the base board and felt extremely motivated to finish this project up.
 In fact, I was so excited to get done, I decided to forego the sanding of the shelves and just put the gripper on them. I had a couple of coats done (both sides on around 15 shelves) and left to run some errands.
 I got a phone call....Simon REALLY wanted to help paint and had even scraped some of them for me.
 I was able to wash off the brown paint on the back of the shelving, but I realized with the scraping off of the gripper paint on the shelves, that I needed to sand them not happy about that realization. I ignored that fact for quite a while, hoping that it would somehow disappear.
 I found some leftover corner molding that I just happened to have lying around and decided to attach it to the fronts of the shelving (where the two edges of each bookshelf met). It was just what I needed to give it the finished look I had been going for.
 I asked the kids not to step on the boards, as I procrastinated about peeling and sanding the shelves.....apparently not everyone understood the request. LOL
 Because all of the bottoms of the bookshelves were different heights, I had to figure out a solution to having them come flush with the top of the base boards, so that they would work well. I finally figured out how to fix the problem. I measured up from the top of the bottom shelf to the top of the base board. Then I subtracted the width of the board I had to put in there (3/4") and cut some boards (shims) to go in between the original bottom shelf and the new bottom shelf I was going to create. I attached the shims to the original bottom shelves, then attached the new bottom shelves to the shims. I caulked like crazy around all of the corners of the entire bookshelf unit. Like Carayzee! 
 Once I was done with this step, I finally came to grips with the fact that I needed to redo the shelves. And soon. After not having most of our family books out for a year, the kids were so anxious to get them back in the house. They were not content with library borrowing anymore. I used that anxiousness to my advantage.....
 I can't remember what else I bribed my minions with, but they were all eager enough to begin scraping and peeling away at the poorly-painted shelves. I actually think they enjoyed destroying my work (this time, with permission).
 It took a while to finally get them all scraped.
  Many hours of hard work and elbow grease went into this project.
 I continued painting the bookshelves, as the kids and I scraped away at the shelves. I applied 2 coats of gripper and 3 coats of regular paint, before I was completely through.
 Finally, the shelves were scraped, sanded, and ready for the gripper and paint. That took another week or so to complete, as I wanted to make sure I gave them plenty of time to cure in between coats.
At last, after months of procrastination and hard work to avoid having to spend a fortune on hiring someone to make me some bookshelves, my shelves were nearly complete. I had to cut a few more shelves (which you can see I was painting, along with some other shelves for yet some more bookshelves. We are addicted to books, I am not going to lie to you. When you see how many books we have in this room alone, you will understand what I am admitting to), because part of the reason the shelves were at such a great price was because they apparently were missing a couple shelves. The shelves were painted and after a few days, I brought all of our kids' books into the house to put back into our library. The kids actually cheered.

Want to see the rest of the transformation? You are going to love Neverland! Here is Part 2 of Project Neverland.


  1. Replies
    1. Glad to hear it, Morgan! Have you seen the second part of the project? If not, I totally suggest checking it out. Do much fun!