New shelves

The very last of the unpacking. It’s happened! You know what happens when two book lovers combine households? Too many cats. And yes, too many books. But really, is there such a thing? (cats, yes, books, never.)

After all the boxes were unpacked, even the chaotic studio was tamed. But the piles of books remained. As a temporary measure, Nik took a plank of wood from the basement and put them into some kind of order, which made a big difference.

Temporary bookshelf

It actually looked so much better that I thought about sticking some better legs on it and calling it a day. But last week, we stumbled across one of my new favorite Philly finds: The Resource Exchange. It’s basically a thrift store for DIY projects. There’s home goods and fabric and set pieces from stage productions and, maybe my favorite, building materials. These two matching boards called our name. They were already stained and sealed, just enough wear and tear to give them character. The woman who worked there told us that they were pieces from salvaged church pews, which seems to be becoming a household theme. They saved the intact pews as best they could, but if they couldn’t, they pulled them apart so the wood could be reused.

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I actually don’t have a before picture of the boards, because we were so excited to do the project that we started it as soon as we got home. The brackets are standard grey heavy-duty brackets from Home Depot that can hold 1200 lbs per pair, and we used three on each shelf. I’m not sure how much books even weigh, but having hauled boxes full of them, I’d say it’s pretty close.

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The boards curve (advantageous for a pew back, slightly less so for a bookshelf), but they feel rock solid, and it doesn’t affect the function at all. The hard part was screwing them into the wall. Each bracket has three holes, and I used an anchor on each one. Sometimes the drill would go in perfectly cleanly and only plaster dust would fall out even at two inches deep. Sometime, I hit brick after what seemed like only a paper-thin skim coat. A few times, I had to have Nik push against my back so I wouldn’t slide away from the wall with how much I had to press into the drill to get anywhere. Who knows what’s even going on in those walls!

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We pushed the table back into the center of the room- having it against the wall was great for traffic, since the only way to get into the kitchen is to walk through the dining room- and the room definitely feels closer to finished that way. Definitely not quite entirely there: it needs a few more things, like a rug, a chandelier, and some kind of large piece of furniture on the east wall, but it’s coming along.

Two other recent details added:

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I found this lamp and the tatted lace runner at a thrift store recently, and rearranged the sideboard bar a bit. I wasn’t sure if the runner would be too “grandma’s house,” but I give in, neo-Victorian is where my style-heart lives. And it was $2. The lamp was a $5 score, but it needed a shade. I found this one as at The Resource Exchange, and it’s both in perfect condition and of appropriate age, and it was $7. I love thrifting, so much.

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I especially have a thing for good lamps, and this one is amazing. It reminds me of something I’d find carefully staged in an Anthropologie store, but at $12 total, it’s not exactly Anthro prices.

What projects have you been excited about recently? Is there something in your house that feels super fancy, but secretly you picked it up for a song? Inquiring minds want to know!

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7 comments

  1. lovely! what is the blue black paint color?

    1. Thank you! It’s Valspar’s Mark Twain Gray Brick, and I love it more every day.

  2. This is honestly making me rethink everything I’ve ever walked past at a thrift store. I live right up the street from one, so I’m thinking of browsing when I drop stuff off, but I don’t want to leave with more than I bring! Also, that sea captain…..<3.

    1. It’s a game I play when I shop, trying to visualize things in a different context. Sometimes I’m off base, but I love the hunt of trying to place things without a store’s merchandizing persuasion. Coming home with more than I drop off can definitely be a problem, though! And isn’t the sea captain amazing??? We call him Gregory, and he’s a needlepoint canvas.

      1. WHAT?!? Now, I’m going to hunt for a project like him. or make one. Omg GREGORY!

  3. raeraesketchaday · · Reply

    So nice! Any book recommendations?

    1. Thank you!! My favorite thing I’ve read of the last few was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. And I can’t stop thinking about The Bad Seed by William March (the writing is so modern for a book from the 50s, but it’s a slightly campy novel about a child sociopath, so not the best thing to read before bed!).

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