As a refresher, I had hoped to accomplish something like this.
But the bookcase I bought for the purpose wasn't going to play my game, so we were left with two alternatives:
1) Forget the bookcase idea and just extend the cornice so it's seamless
2) Build our own bookcase from scratch
We decided to go with option 2. I was a bit terrified, since we've never attempted to build a piece of furniture from scratch ourselves. Then again, we've built other things, so the theory is the same!
We went and bought ourselves some pine boards, and I got the job of marking them...
And cutting them to size.
And then I got the painstaking job of painting the pieces. We decided to buy some enamel (oil-based as opposed to water-based) paint in the same colour that we had painted the bathroom ceiling, Taubmans' Grey Fog, colour matched to British Paints. Ordinarily, with water-based paint, you can knock off a painting job in a day and be done with it. Using oil-based paint though, it's six hours before a coat is touch-dry, and 16 hours before you're supposed to re-coat. And then you're supposed to leave the paint for a full week before it can be considered cured.
So the process of painting all the bits and pieces (considering that I could only paint one side of each board at a time), and then waiting for the paint to harden, took me about two weeks overall
Needless to say, it felt good finally getting to the actual book-case construction stage! So far so good...
We decided to go with just the two sides and the shelves between them, with no board on the back. Instead, the wall tiles would just be visible through the shelves.
You can't see it well in this shot, but we carefully measured the distance we would need between each shelf and then marked the lines where the shelves would go on each of the long side boards.
And then Tom drilled holes along each of those lines...
For the shelves to be screwed through.
And then we laid out all of the pieces, ready for assembling!
Clamps helped to keep each shelf in position while Tom drilled each screw in from the side.
It was a painstaking process. Five shelves with three screws each side ended up being 30 screws!
I also cut a timber offcut to size to install between the top shelf (i.e. the ceiling of the bookcase) and the very top of the sides, for our eventual cornice piece to attach to.
Voila! Constructed bookshelves! Ikea, eat your heart out!
And now for the exciting part! The installation!
Although that was a bit of an anti-climax. The room wasn't quite ready for installation yet.
First, there was the issue of the fact that the cornice on the right was impinging on our bookshelf's real estate.
So it needed to get cut down to size. Tom jumped at the opportunity to demonstrate his patented pencil-in-the-mouth-while-measuring manoeuvre.
We had to have quite a discussion about what tool would be best for the cutting process. Since we don't own one of those fancy vibrating blade tools, we were concerned about using a tool that would damage the cornice we wanted to leave in place. We eventually settled on a Stanley knife, and I'm relieved to report that Tom's expert knife-wielding skills came through.
A bit of scraping and vacuuming, and the cornice was neatly shortened. Whew!
So then it was time for installation! Not as easy as it looks, but because I was needed for lifting help, I couldn't capture the fun of that process on film. You'll just have to imagine it. Remembering that this bathroom is quite small and the fact that there's a bathtub and towel rail to wrangle around will help with the image.
We managed to slot the bookcase in behind the cornice on the left wall...
But we couldn't then straighten it up enough to also get it in behind Tom's trimmed cornice on the right, because we hadn't left any wiggle room in the measurements. So, he had to get his knife out again and trim a bit extra off the right cornice so we had enough angle to shove the bookcase in completely. Never mind! Our timber trim piece will eventually cover that gap up!
Hooray! We have a bookcase!
Except then we had to drag it out again so that we could get access to the wall for some glue.
Then the left side of the bookcase got some glue of its own, and we squished it back in again, carefully, so that we didn't get glue on any exposed sections of wall.
Not bad, huh? We were pretty proud of ourselves.
Then it was trim time! I had a brainwave, and cut a piece of cardboard to size to match the angle of the cornice, so we could use it as a template for cutting the edges of the timber piece we wanted to use to cover the top of the bookcase.
It worked beautifully.
So then Tom painstakingly cut that pattern out of the ends of two pieces of trim (leftover from the kitchen) with the circular saw (a process that, despite my template, still involved a lot of trial and error)...
And suddenly the bookcase looked so much more finished! If you discount the contrasting colour and all the little splotches that were my attempt at puttying up all of the screw holes.
Thankfully the attempt worked, and once they were all sanded back and treated to an undercoat, it was looking a lot more professional.
The bookcase then got an extra coat of paint, just to be on the safe side (and to cover up all of the puttied screw holes on the side). Don't want any water getting through the paint job!
And then came the worst part. Siliconing up all of the edges where the bookcase met the wall. Forgive this lovely shot focusing on Tom's shoulder that was supposed to show him with the caulk gun.
He was in charge of using the gun to run the bead of silicone, I was in charge of smoothing it all out once he'd done that. It's an art, let me tell you! One that I am far far far away from mastering. I tried all the tricks. Paddle pop sticks, dishwashing detergent, you name it. Eventually I gave up and just used my finger, dipped first in a cup of water. It was messy, and it was less than perfect, but it was the fastest and least frustrating method!
And thankfully the end result wasn't too bad.
So there you have it! Our handmade-from-scratch and hopefully watertight new bathroom bookcase! Who else is proud of us?