Wording With Purpose

Wall of Shelves

Shawn and I discussed the idea of turning one wall of our living room into shelves for books and doodads. By replacing a couple of end tables and removing the need for a third table to support the TV we could free up floor space and give the room an open feeling.

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Once a week we transform the room into a meeting place for a group of friends to gather for Bible study and fellowship. Between the six dining room chairs, the couch, 2 easy chairs, and a backup stash of 8 folding chairs we’ve been able to offer a seat to anyone who visits, but a few extra feet of open floor space would be nice.

The Internet offers an incredible wealth of pictures and ideas from DIY types who’ve undertaken similar projects. We captured photos of interest and worked out what we would use and change from each one. Neither of us wanted a huge free-standing “entertainment center” cabinet arrangement or built-in cabinets. That would only close the room in again.

We designed our wall around made-in-the-USA standards & brackets from Knape and Vogt. Their 80/180 series will support 320 pounds per pair of standards and given that our load would be a mix of books and lighter items we felt comfortable that our use would fall well below that limit. The standards and brackets can be purchased in several colors and we opted for white to match the trim. With the wood shelves painted to match the wall the shelves would become nearly invisible.

To help visualize the projected shelf space and to get a handle on the work required I drew this planning diagram. Pictures are worth a thousand words when it comes to DIY. I also designed in space for the larger TV I will someday own.

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The doorbell and thermostat would have to move, and we would require an outlet closer to the TV. With a stud finder and a roll of painters tape I marked the studs so we could sit on the couch and discuss the plan. Married folks who do DIY and desire to remain in love must learn to communicate, give and take, and value each other’s input. Agreement between management and labor always pushes the idea closer to the reality of a successful project.

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Rather than reroute cables I replaced the doorbell with a wireless unit and repaired the gaping holes the builder left under the mounting panel. I planned to disconnect the thermostat and move it up about ten inches as the proposed shelf arrangement called for a shelf in its current location. The thermostat was mounted to a section of 2×4 spanning between two studs with the wire stapled in place behind with no slack. We decided to leave the thermostat alone and move the shelf instead, a possibility with the adjustable shelving.

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The TV mount centered in the wall was a welcomed addition to the room. I read all the directions before drilling anything and we had no issues with installation. Our small TV required no extender arms which were provided with the kit. But I saved all that extra hardware…for someday.

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Next up was adding an outlet beside the TV. The wall has two outlets and by pulling out the receptacles to look (with the power off) I determined the outlet on the left was the end of the run. That box had room for another wire so I needed to run the wire from there up to the TV.

In an attempt to reduce the number of sheetrock repairs I cut one hole spanning the stud as shown. The TV is to the right of the stud so the wire can go straight up. The original electrician drilled big enough holes through the studs so if I could work my arm into the wall, push the end of the wire through two studs and into the box I would have the business end routed.

Shawn watched the box with a flashlight (of course the ceiling lights and the outlets are on the same circuit) to let me know when the end of the cable popped through the box. I am thankful for long arms and stretched as far as I could. At one point my helper emitted a loud shriek, “I see it!” With the wire pressed between two fingers I had found the box. “Well, honey, stop the goal line victory dance, grab that wire with the pliers and pull it through. Quick. Before my arm falls off.”

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I terminated the new wire on the spare set of terminals on the receptacle. I make a habit of checking the connection on each outlet we pull and verifying the snugness of the terminal screws. Loose connections can result in excessive heat and possibly fire.

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We needed to cut a hole in the sheetrock as big as the old-work box so why not use it as a guide? Actually that was Shawn’s idea.

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The new box and the wire are in place and power is restored.

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Next task was to reconnect the Roku to the TV so we could listen to Pandora while we work.

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I plan to cover sheetrock repair in a future post. The location I chose for the new box ended up too close to one of the standards so I needed to scoot it about 1” to the right. That left a wide gap in the sheetrock. Should I purchase a really big outlet cover or should I repair it correctly?

The normal repair calls for a piece of furring strip screwed above and below the opening. The new section of sheetrock then mounts to those. In this case I had a stud, a 1” opening, and an electrical box. I had no way to pull the wood toward me while I tightened the screws.

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By installing a temporary screw to use as a handle I solved the problem. The repair was completed, and I repainted the wall.

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Our shelves were constructed from 1”x12” pine and the finished length was slightly over nine feet. The weather was uncooperative and frequent rain showers meant painting the shelves indoors. I set up stands in the living room and shop. Note the drop cloth, guys. No one sets out to drip or tip a paint tray but it happens.

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Rolling two coats of primer and two coats of paint seemed easier than brushing. Wait time between coats far exceeded the time to spread the paint.

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I parked the roller and tray inside a plastic grocery bag between coats. Worked like a charm.

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Even with close attention I missed a few drips especially as I rolled the edges. Let the board dry overnight, sand, and repaint.

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We had a three day wait for our shelf hardware to arrive so I parked all the shelves in the living room to cure. My wife is a sweetie about DIY intrusions and messes in the living space.

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Hanging standards was easy with a temporary brace board installed at the correct height. I centered the standard over the stud, leveled it, and installed the screws.

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Shawn was delighted as the first shelf went into its place.

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Our hardware arrived but was not well-packaged. UPS lost one of the standards so the project was placed on hold until we secured a replacement. The vendor was not clear on when or if they would send the part. I could not wait for the conclusion of the finger pointing and located an Ace hardware within driving distance that sourced Knape and Vogt. Ace had the 60” standard in stock, and we took a road trip. By the way, the vendor DID ship a replacement standard that arrived seven days later so I have a spare. This time the packaging was crush-proof.

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And the project is completed. Shawn and I love the new look, and our visitors have commented on how the change opened up the room.

Mission accomplished.

Completed Shelves