When my husband and I started looking for homes I knew I didn’t want a raised ranch, but here in NY they are pretty much the norm. I thought that they were all the same, predictable and just blah.
Well of course when my husband found our home online and we went to see it, I had to change my mind. It was in the perfect location, on a dead end quiet street, 2.8 acres, great school district and in good shape.
So if we were going to buy this house, it was going to be my mission to make it my own and not the boring cookie cutter raised ranch.
After we closed on our home, I began making a HUGE master to-do list and my “built in bookcase half wall railing” was one item I couldn’t wait to get done.
At the top of the stairs was a typical raised ranch iron railing. I hated it. I felt cold, uninviting and not to mention that people walking up the stairs had a great view of any dust or or dirt that might be on the floor.
I called my favorite carpenter..my Dad, and my favorite figure-outer, my Mom and “we” got to work.
I had no plans or how-to’s that I could find, so my figure-outer, figured it out.
Here’s how we did it…and sorry for the lack of pictures during the process, my son was only 4 months old when we did it so the focus was keep him occupied while the construction was going on!
First thing to do is measure how deep/tall you would like the bookcase and adjust these plans accordingly.
After we removed the railing the main concern was how we were going to make sure it was sturdy.
We made 3 boxes out of 2×4’s (4″ side on the floor) and secured them to the floor with room in-between and on the ends to fit a 2×10.
Cut 4 – 2×10’s the height of the bookshelf and fit on the end and in-between the 2×4 boxes and secure.
Here is a birds eye view of the plan.
Cut 1 2×10 board to place on top and secure to the 2×10 vertical boards.
To finish off the top we used a 1×12 the cut to the length of the shelf and also a 1×12 cut to height to finish off the end.
We then added the shelves. 1×10’s cut to length and used shelf pins to set the shelves on for the desired height.
For the molding to add the finished look it was:
1×4 – across the bottom and 4 vertical “posts”
1×3 – across the top (2×10 board)
1×2 covering shelves across
For the back, there was wainscoting coming up the stairs which I hated. So we took that off and were pleasantly surprised that there was sheetrock underneath. So we just added another sheet of sheetrock to the back of the bookcase, taped, primed and painted! We also cut a hole in the wall that led to downstairs where our wood stove is. There was a lot of heat that got trapped in that corner and the pass thru now lets so much heat upstairs. It’s great!
Since this post we made over our entry way. It came out so great!
You can see the entry way update here.
For the bookcase I decided I wanted to paint the back of the shelves the same as the wall color to give it some dimension and make it stand out. I painted the shelves and moulding white, and stained the top,
I’m in love! What do you think?
This post has gained a lot of attention and a ton of comments on social media.
I wanted to address some of the questions and concerns many people have had.
Loss of light: Our living room has a huge bay window, 6 recessed lights, a lamp, and sliding glass doors in the dining room. We actually didn’t notice any light difference when we built the bookcase. As for the stairs, our door has a glass pane, a side window and a window. So it’s fairly lit as well. You can also see the other side of the bookcase here.
Children Climbing: I figured I would teach my children not to climb on it. In our opinion this was much safer than the railing. Which was way too low, and too high off the ground. I also grew up in a raised ranch and we had just a half wall in the same place and a couch pushed up to it. I never climbed on the couch to the wall…and my husband also grew up in a raised ranch but with the railing and he tells stories about how he would walk on the OTHER side of the railing! Call me naive but I prefer this option. Maybe down the line I will put doors on it but right now, I love it the way it is. Update: My little guy is almost 3 years old right now and has yet to even attempt to climb the bookcase.
Closed off the room: Take a look at the photo’s below of the other side. I think it’s open and cozy.
If you’re wondering what I did with the railing when I took it down you can find out here!
Also if you want to see what the other side looks like now take a look here!
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