How to Remodel a Fireplace to Add Built-in Bookshelves

To remodel a fireplace to add built-in bookshelves brings to mind a very rich picture. Some of the most classical libraries in estates around the world have nice roaring fireplaces, and a world of rich dark woods with beautiful leather bound books. Add a large hound to this picture laying on a classically designed Persian rug and you have stepped into a very rich environment.

How to Remodel a Fireplace by Adding Built-In Bookshelves

Once again the possibilities with this remodeling project are seemingly endless. Your budget can play a big role in this. If you really want to go for the gusto it would be best to hire a professional to build your bookshelves out of a rich wood to compliment your surroundings, similar to the English library in “The Secret Garden” or maybe a place you might find Sherlock Holmes lounging in.

What we are going to cover here is a simpler and more modern way of adding bookshelves on both sides of your fireplace using plywood. This would be especially nice for a den or game room with a fireplace.

Get Your Material and Tools Together

We are going to be working with ¾ inch birch plywood for all parts of the shelves, and ¼ inch birch plywood for the backing of the shelves. A piece of prefabricated molding will be needed to run across the front of the mantle. You will also need a tape measure, wood glue, maybe some wood filler for nail holes, and some 220 grit sand paper.

The bookshelves will be painted in your choice of colors, so you will need some primer and paint. The tools you will be needing are a table saw and a handsaw for your convenience for short pieces if you desire. Also a level will come in very handy to make sure your construction is straight.

In addition to the wood glue, as mentioned earlier, you will need a nail gun and staple gun to hold your project together. If you prefer using a manual hammer that will work too, but it won’t be as quick. So basically we need plywood, a way to cut it to size, something to nail it together, and paint to finish it.

Construct the Bookshelves

Begin construction of your bookshelves by measuring the space around the fireplace that you have to work with. Figure out how big you want your bookshelves and begin cutting the sides, top, and bottom. The shelves will all be 11 inches deep. Write down the measurements of the boards on a paper so you can be sure to match them up.   Make sure you cut the boards the same for both sides of the fireplace.

There are no specific measurements except the ones you design, so keep a pencil handy. You are basically building a box frame for your shelves. Bare in mind that you want all of your shelves 11 inches deep, as mentioned earlier.

After you have built your boxes, or frames, for each side of the fireplace it is time to glue and nail your shelves together. After this, attach the back firmly by nailing it to the sides and the back of the shelves. Nail the finished pieces to their places next to the fireplace finding a wall stud to nail to preferably.

If you are installing over brick or cement, screws will do nicely. You are going to span the fireplace so make sure your base cabinets are equal and level with each other to ensure that the header and mantle will be perfectly straight and match up using your level.

Build the mantle the length of the fireplace and from the top of each bookshelf. The mantle should be 11 inches deep with some molding attached to the front to give the mantle weight. Attach the mantle to the fireplace and then attach the header by nailing it to the bookshelves on both ends.

Finishing Up Your Remodel of Your Fireplace with the Add of Built-In Bookshelves

Sand the bookshelves with an electric sander. Sometimes if you have a little area in a corner or something that needs sanding you might have to do this by hand. As soon as any rough areas are sanded you can apply your primer. Any standard primer will do. Let the primer dry and then add the top coat of paint in the color of your choice. You can now enjoy the products of your labor and the remodel of your fireplace with the add of built-in bookshelves.

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