The J. Money Library/Blogger Den Is Complete!

BAM! 11 hours and 9 bookshelves later, we finally have ourselves a “built-in” library ;) And yes that’s a fireplace in there, haha… Not too shabby for a person lacking construction skills, eh? (I literally put everything together and then attached it to the wall – nothing fancy at all)

If you’ve been following me on Twitter recently, you’ll know I got the idea after obsessing over a few links from Ikea Hacker and other do-it-yourself sites.  Apparently there’s about 1001 ways to use the Ikea “Billy” bookcases to spruce up your home any way you pretty much want (though I ended up going with Target’s “Room Essentials” 5-Shelf bookcases cuz not only were they 60% cheaper at $29.99 a piece, but I also LOVED LOVED LOVED the color they had – “Espresso!”), and as soon as I saw some of the libraries others had made, I knew I had to get one for myself.  There’s just something so peaceful and comfy about them all the time you know? And I swear surrounding yourself with tons of books makes you magically a little smarter too ;)

library beforeSo I just went for it!  I had really wanted something more flashier and interesting than our original plans of random wall decorations and a sofa sectional (though we still need to find appropriate seating now), and this was the perfect way to get the most use out of an entire wall too.

And if you look at that right-hand corner of any of the pictures shown here, you’ll notice our ceiling randomly juts down LOWER in two different areas for some unknown reason.  But these wonderful bookshelves fit under them PERFECTLY! With only millimeters between them!  It was pretty freakin’ unbelievable – and there was no way I was about to do any extra demolition or carpentry to get this thing done either, so we got downright lucky ;)  (Though I suppose I could have went searching around for others that would have done the trick too)

And after tons trips back and forth from 2 different Targets to keep picking up more units
(I kept wiping out their stock! Haha…) and figuring out how to get the top pieces to fit together (I ended up just using the top halves of 3 brand new bookcases) we were all set.  I literally did nothing else other than assemble them all together which took 30-45 mins a piece, and then fastening them to the wall – both rows – to make sure everything was nice and secure. And that was that!

Here was a picture before we got it all started: Pretty discombobulated.
library before
Then once I cleared everything up:
library before before
And lastly, when it was built! (We’ve since got rid of the piano and other items…)
library after
What do you think?  HUGE difference huh? I think this might be the most awesomest thing I’ve ever done in our house, haha… the wife was pretty impressed that I could follow through with an idea so quickly like that ;) It only took a few days from start to finish once the seed had gotten planted! And it really didn’t cost that much either.

Here are the stats:

  • Total time put in: 11 hours (Including going back and forth between stores – not including hours spent dreaming and planning ;))
  • Total overall cost: $300.00 (including a few accessories like the fake plants)
  • Number of bookcases used : 9 (6 full units on the first row, and 3 top halves on the second.  I tried to use the bottom halves as well so nothing would go to waste (and it would cost $30 cheaper) but sadly that part didn’t work out as well…)
  • Number of total shelves (as shown in top picture): 38
  • Number of books that can be held:  800+?
  • Number of times I hurt myself throughout the process: 15 (I’m a clutz!)
  • Total percent of happiness increase: 500%

I’m pretty excited about it. The library totally changed the entire look and feel of the room, and it’s even MORE fun to come down and start blogging in it every single day. So it really helps all of us ;) We still have a lot more decorating and couch finding to do, but I think we’re on pretty good roll here so far. And check out that fireplace in there!!! How sweet is that? (Besides the fact it was $50 on sale the other month!) I still can’t believe it fit in there like it did – there’s literally NO ROOM in between the top and bottom areas of that shelf there. I just slipped it in there after taking out one of the shelves and cutting a part out of the back for the cords to come through, and it magically fit!  And by far my favorite part of the whole project too :) Just wait ’till we find a place for the Santa painting to hang! The pimpness outta that room’s gonna be strong, haha…

How are all your DIY projects coming along?  Anyone else trying something fun and cheap with their homes right now?   I’ll keep ya posted on our additions here as time goes by, but right now I’m pretty happy with it all.  Just goes to show a little hard work and some imagination can go a long way!

PS: Here are the rest of the pics: J’s dope library
PPS: And here’s what we did with our bathroom down there too: bathroom upgrade – though that didn’t require any assembling ;)

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  1. Kim February 13, 2012 at 6:13 AM

    Wow! That looks amazing! I never thought to make a library with pre-made shelves. Plus, I don’t think there’s any such thing as $30 shelves anywhere in Canada. Why must we pay $stupid for everything here!!

    Anyway, colour me envious. Very well done, and excellent cost for the satisfaction it elicited.

  2. Money Infant February 13, 2012 at 6:51 AM

    That is one sweeeet lookin’ library Mr. Money. What a perfect place to sit down to write and reflect on life. Nice job!

  3. Alex February 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    Sick. Way to improve the space!

  4. jolie February 13, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    I am loving this library!! Beautiful. Classy. Elegant. Good job!

  5. cashflowmantra February 13, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    The room looks great. How did you manage to keep track of injuries? Hash marks on the wall or counting number of band-aids?

  6. Shondellclarke February 13, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Not too bad J. Money! The room looks much better. Maybe that could be a new job for you. Installing libraries in people’s homes. Lol

  7. Kandace February 13, 2012 at 9:10 AM

    Very cool, and what a great space for organizing and storing so many things!

  8. J. Money February 13, 2012 at 9:26 AM

    Thanks guys! I’m pretty ecstatic about the whole thing :) Can’t wait to get my furniture and rugs up in here to complete the room! It’s gonna be hot. And super comfortable!

    @Kim – Do y’all have Target up there? I bet there’s a place you can snatch them up for $30 :) I’d say online, but they don’t ship :(
    @Money Infant – YES! Exactly. And once the couch and chair and what not is in here, it’ll be great for reading and just getting away from the world. Can’t wait!
    @cashflowmantra – There’s an app for that! ;)
    @Shondellclarke – I would love that :) It was fun!

  9. Alexis February 13, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    Looks great! We have a wall of Billy bookcases in our living room, which I love, even though we don’t have the snug-fit custom look that you have achieved. But let me tell you, there is nothing so relaxing as kicking back at night and just gazing at our books displayed before us. Good for you for setting up a library for you and the missus to enjoy, and to show Baby Money that books really are still important in this online world!

  10. Emmy February 13, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    I am SOOOOOOOO jealous of your library right now! I keep on having to get rid of books because I don’t have room for them. :( Which I guess isn’t a bad thing since I don’t need all of them… but it still makes me sad. Oh the woes of apartment living.

  11. Edward Antrobus February 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Looking nice. I especially like the stuffed alligator. :)

  12. Jeff @My Multiple Streams February 13, 2012 at 10:55 AM

    Nice job! And love the fireplace. I’m looking at ikea’s besta solution for a wall unit for the office with a 125 gal aquarium (new hobby). Will have to modify to support the 1000+ lbs of water :)

  13. Justin Wright February 13, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    lol, my girlfriend and I bought 3 of those bookshelves from Target about a week ago. We went to Ikea and were ready to buy the Billy bookcases, but realized that the sides were one piece so the boxes wouldn’t fit in our car. The Target ones were not only cheaper, but much easier to fit in the car since they break down into smaller pieces.

    I was pretty nervous nailing the backs of the shelves in, thought for sure I was going to put a nail right through one of the shelves so you could see it from the front.

  14. Aaron February 13, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    This is great J! Well done – and you didn’t spend a ton.

  15. Jeff @ Before You Invest February 13, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    Wow that looks awesome!

  16. KC @ PsychoMoney February 13, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    That looks great. So now you gotta start fillin it. Good luck.

  17. Jessi February 13, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Amazing!!! We have two of those bookshelves from Target too and we love them, but I never thought about making a whole wall out of them before! Hmm…maybe that will be my next project :-)

  18. Jen @ Master the Art of Saving February 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Lookin’ good! Great job pimpin’ out your blogging den. :-) I love bookshelves and the way they can transform a room into something amazing. I used to have our entire living room wall lined with bookshelves, it looked awesome.

  19. Michelle February 13, 2012 at 12:39 PM

    Wow that looks great!

  20. Brent Pittman February 13, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Sweet! Just in time for Yard-sell season. Time to stock up on cheap or free books!

  21. LB February 13, 2012 at 1:20 PM

    Cool idea. Does the electric fireplace get hot in the bookshelves?

    I had a couple of similar bookcases like that from Target, when I first moved into my current home. I ended up hating them, because you couldn’t put a lot of weight in them like a bunch of books AND a DVD player. I gave them away and ending up getting the black metal shelves, also from Target that can hold all my games, movies, music etc. I too have an electric fireplace in the same my living room, but I have it with a chair and book shelf so I can enjoy the fire from different angles and read books. I would explain what I am doing with all the above, but I really don’t want to share my design idea with the rest of the world. Top secret design :)

  22. SmartAssetTeam February 13, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    I personally don’t have any DIY projects going on at home, but NYC is a pretty awesome place to check out what other people do to small spaces to make them more livable. I had one friend who made a tiny studio look amazing and livable when she built her own loft for her full sized bed. It ended up leaving plenty of room for a desk under it and a little extra floor space.

  23. Melissa February 13, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    This is amazing J. Money! I am so jealous! I’ve always wanted to have a room that’s just totally wallpapered with books, and this looks fantastic. I can’t believe how well it all fits together! I love how small projects like this can just completely change a room. I recently got bored and decided to paint a pair of bookshelves I had in my bedroom, and it makes all the difference! Now they’re green instead of brown, but I love them. And the whole project from inception to completion only took a few hours and cost about $10. (I already had the paint leftover from another project.)

    I also love that stuffed alligator.

  24. BE @ BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog February 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    Nicely done. A library does completely change the look and feel of a room. Now, all you need is some cognac and a good cigar!

  25. WR February 13, 2012 at 2:46 PM


    We popped 3 Ikea bookcases (hemnes- weird name – into our LR and it made a world of difference.
    makes you feel a few points smarter (more smarter? ha) when you’re in a room full of books.


  26. AverageJoe February 13, 2012 at 3:36 PM

    Great color. I bet it’s all the more rewarding that you did it yourself. I feel that same sense of accomplishment when I successfully tie my shoes. Yours wins by a mile, dude.

  27. Yana February 13, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    Awesome job! We would like to be do-it-yourselfers, but are unfortunately not very handy. If I can hang something straight on the wall, I’ve done well ;)

  28. bogofdebt February 13, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    I’m jealous–I want that eventually! Right now I just have 2 bookshelfs that we bought at our local Wal-Mart and are filled with books. When we get our own house (a while down the road) I want a room for just a library! Currently I have not done anything on decorating our rental house–I have projects that I want to do but just haven’t done anything with. I got lazy :(

  29. J. Money February 13, 2012 at 5:51 PM

    Thanks everyone!! I hope it inspires some of you to build some cool stuff too! I rarely get in these phases ;)

    @Alexis – Agreed!! Feels sooooo warm and cozy down here, even if I don’t read any of the books :) I think every house should have a library section for sure. A wall of Billys are cool too!
    @Emmy – Turn one of your walls into a library ;) I’d build it for you if we lived closer :(
    @Edward Antrobus – I won it at a fair two years ago :) I was gonna give it away and the wife goes, “What are you doing?? Save it for our kid!!” – Hah! Already forgot!
    @Jeff @My Multiple Streams – Oooooooh very cool! I went in a fishtank phase too – I have a large hexagon tank (45 gallon I think?) and a few 10 galls tanks… I didn’t stray away from the expensive stands they have though cuz I don’t know enough to support all tha weight :( Hope you can figure it out! I once saw a 150 gallon inside of a wall separating the bedroom and the living room – was so hot!!
    @Justin Wright – Haha yeah! Me too :) At least during bookcases #1 and #2 – after that I was a speed demon and it all turned out okay ;) Enjoy the shelves, twin!
    @Jessi – Yes! Go for it, and then show us pics when you’re done :) It really does make a difference.
    @Jen @ Master the Art of Saving – I bet! The same goes with paint too – that TOTALLY transforms a room – most of our walls are colored with something striking – not the blogger lair yet though, soon I hope ;)
    @Brent Pittman – You know it! We still have a handful of piles around the house to still stock it up with, but def. no shortage of space right now ;) My mom said she had some old series of books too that my grandpa gave her that we can have to make it look antiquey too – pretty excited for ’em!
    @LB – Haha, well you should show us a pic once you’re all done – or at least me ;) We’ll see how much these shelves hold in the end, but right now we’re looking pretty good. And nope – the fireplace pushes out the air from the lower front, away from all the wood (though the tags on it say to never put things all around it of course – I unplug it when not in use just in case).
    @SmartAssetTeam – YES! I believe you! When I lived there I had to get pretty damn creative too – esp when I swapped rooms with my friend who had ceilings so low you couldn’t even stand up ;) THAT was a challenge, haha…
    @Melissa – Thank you so much! I’m pretty surprised/shocked that it came out this well too :) I’d love to see your green bookshelves! Will you send me a pic?? I love green! Might actually do one of our walls green here too, also with leftover paint ;)
    @BE @ BusyExecutiveMoneyBlog – Don’t you think I haven’t thought about that either! You see that wooden box there, above my fireplace? That contains cigars ;)
    @WR – Nice! Those are beautiful! Really really like those, a lot :)
    @AverageJoe – Haha, yes – I’ll hapilly take that win in this case ;) You’ll beat me in others, I’m sure.
    @Yana – Me too! Which is why I cheated and put together a bunch of bookcases instead of custom building it out ;) Every now and then people like you and me ge lucky!
    @bogofdebt – One day you will :) I tend to go in spurts of energy/ideas, so when I’m “on” I just run with it. If you feel yourself getting inspired, do your best to give it a good shot!

  30. Renee February 13, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    Haha- that’s awesome…fireplace and all. But I’m thinking you need some more books now. :)

  31. Mrs. Money Mustache February 13, 2012 at 9:45 PM

    Wow! That looks SWEEET! I love the built in fireplace. I must say, I had my doubts (being an anti-consumer myself), but now that I see the finished product, it looks like it was totally worth it. :) Awesome.

  32. Tyler S. February 14, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Well done sir! Hopefully next time there will be fewer injury timeouts! Lol.. I wouldn’t say we’ve been particularly ambitious when it comes to decorating the apartment, but I did recently put a Mickey Mouse sticker on the wall next to my desk after a birthday Disney World visit.

  33. Kris @ SimpleIslandLiving February 14, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    Oh god that’s beautiful. My husband and I dream of having a library. When we have a house of our own, until then we can dream.

  34. The Happy Homeowner February 14, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    Nice work! Lovin’ the alligator in the ‘before’ pic…haha! I tackled DIY crown molding over the weekend, and I agree with the 500% increase in happiness factor. Two bathrooms down, two bedrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, and a living room to go…yea, buddy :)

  35. I Am 1 Percent February 14, 2012 at 8:44 AM

    You know what would give this shelf some pizzaz? It would really complete it and make it look more elegant. Add some matching crown molding to the top of the shelf right where the shelf meets the ceiling.

    It shouldn’t cost much….

  36. Stephanie February 14, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    Love this!!! Maybe I’m biased since I’m a librarian, but I think no home is complete without a library. ;-)

    Right now my goal is to find a better way to organize the music portion of the library/music room. We currently have more records than fit under the stand for our record player, so I need to come up with some sort of storage solution that doesn’t involve a crate next to the piano. Also, I recently decided to use one of the currently-underutilitzed built-in shelves for our CDs, which are a horrible mess, and for some inexplicable reason are still stored in a CD tower next to the fireplace in our living room, clear on the other side of the house from the library. :-P

  37. Lindy Mint February 14, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Love how the fireplace fits in perfectly. Nicely done Mr. J! $300 is so little for such a lot of wall.

    I think you need some more books though. ;)

  38. John | Married (with Debt) February 14, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Wow, this turned out great. Crazy how it fit perfectly under your ceiling. I need to do something like this, but I am toying with the idea of building one from scratch (though it will probably cost more to do so).

  39. Tony February 14, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Great job J!!! that looks great. I don’t mean to hate, but it looks a little dark. If you painted the inside of the bookcases white it would bring a little more brightness to the room. Unless your looking for the pipe smoking , robe wearing look then go for it. =)

  40. J. Money February 14, 2012 at 7:41 PM

    @Renee – Oh don’t you worry about that, we’ve got more than enough scattered around the house that will be finding a new home there shortly ;) I just don’t wanna fill it all up yet, cuz then I can’t get more! Haha… I’m gonna take it nice and slow. (That’s what she said!)
    @Michael Senchuk – Hey, that’s cool!! What’s wrong w/ that? I’m digging all those white boxes and binders – looks nice and organized! (okay, except for maybe those lower left shelves, haha… but that’s easy to fix ;))
    @Mrs. Money Mustache – Hehe, thanks. I don’t have the skills to make it a TRUE built in like some people over there ;)
    @Tyler S. – Haha… well that counts for at least 1/2 a point ;)
    @Kris @ SimpleIslandLiving – And now you know it’s super EASY (and CHEAP) to do too! Just takes a little measuring and time to assemble everything. Not a bad trade off ;)
    @Ella – Oooh I like it! You totall covered the wall too, that’s dope. I don’t blame you on not wanting to get rid of many of them – maybe you can just create more parts to your library so you can keep on adding to them? ;) It only becomes a problem when you move, haha…
    @The Happy Homeowner – Wowww that’s awesome!! I love crown molding but have nooooo idea where to start! Wanna come over here next? I’ll pay you in beer and pennies? ;)
    @I Am 1 Percent – Oh for sure – and THAT I could actually do cuz it requires no plastering or anything, right? I could just nail some of those bad boys in there. Not a bad idea at all, thx :)
    @Stephanie – Haha… it’s always a work in progress ;) You should google for record organization ideas actually – I’ve seen some clever ones that were super easy to do before! Or look on Pinterst – there’s tons of library ideas on there, it’s incredible. I love having extra LPs around the house though, make everything so much more quaint. Let me know if you find something good – I’m not sold on the way mine are stored either ;)
    @Lindy Mint – Thanks! Yup, plenty of books left to fill – just can’t do it all at once or there’ll be no more fun left ;)
    @John | Married (with Debt) – If you’re handy like that, it’s probably the best way to go really. You can customize the whole thing and then actually add value to the house! Esp if you have lots of nooks and crannies… we got lucky w/ the way these fit in here, or this post may have never been written ;)
    @Tony – YUP! That’s *exactly* what I’m going for actually, haha… it’s dark on purpose!

  41. Melissa February 14, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    Hey J. Money, you can check out my green bookshelves here:

    It’s not the greatest picture, because I took it with my cell phone, but it made SUCH a difference to the entire room. It just brightened it up so much! This is actually the same colour as my bathroom, and I have a TV cabinet that was painted the same colour. (Though both of those painting jobs look much nicer than the bookcases, since my stepdad did those for me!)

  42. J. Money February 19, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    @Melissa – Awesome! I like it! Big fan of green right now – I think it’s actually “trending” too, haha.. I only know that cuz the whole last issues of House Beautiful mag was all about greens ;) Well done!
    @Jefferson – Hahahaha… zing!

  43. Mary August 1, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    These look great! For the ones where you put half of another unit on top, did you have to cut it in half or did you just assemble half of a case? Did you have to nail them together (the top of one case to the top of another)?

    1. J. Money August 1, 2014 at 11:47 AM

      Hey! You found an old (but awesome) post here – woohoo!

      Great questions. No, I did no cutting whatsoever :) I just assembled half of them and then used some brackets and screws to attach to the main shelf below it, as well as to the wall behind it (and also the roof in some places). I’m not sure if it’s the stablest, but I didn’t plan on putting anything super heavy up there anyways so I think it’s fine.

      The nice part about using halves though is that you can cut costs on buying more units cuz you get two for the price of one ;) Just keep in mind that they do get uneven as the bottom half and the top halves aren’t exact matches. But I kinda like the “character.”

      Good luck if you’re going to do something similar!