Building bookcases is not hard but what about considering buying premade from big box stores or even used ones at thrift stores and painting them and adding decorative moldings and trims to give the built in look. Ikea is a good place to find bookcases if you have one near.
As far as building bookcases, youtube building a bookcase and see if it is something you can tackle. Accurate measurements are a must so have a tape measure you can read and a cheater one if you do not know the hash marks for 5/8, 3/8, etc. You will need (tools) a drill and driver is great to have, small drill bit and/or a countersink drill bit so you can sink the screws flush. You could also use a air brad/nail gun (practice first). You will need wood screws or (even drywall screws and philip head is so much easier to work with), a square to make sure corners are square so you have a nice square bookcase, a small torpedo level just to double check that you are level and square when putting in shelves. Wood is going to cost you. Good wood if you are going to paint it will run you about $12 or more for a 1x12 which will have no knots or flaws.
So for expense and budget, I always check out my thrift stores, yard sales, and big box stores for sales and then you already have the hard part done! You can add what trim you want and if there are gaps you put in a filler board as you do when you have gaps in kitchen cabinet installation. After you paint them and add trim, no one will know unless they are an expert and feel the need to tell you that.
by the way, what are measurements on each side of the fireplace?
I have been saving and/or pinning plans on building bookcases because very soon we will be building some against a wall in our dining area. I believe if you can do simple carpentry, you can manage bookcases. I found many ideas right here on HomeTalk and also many on Pinterest. I did see that many used pre-made and fancied them up with molding. I will have my resident "carpenter" build simple cases and then fancy them up with moldings. We have a table saw and husband has built kayaks, chicken coop and some other projects so we aren't working without some experience. Good luck to both you and me!
look for books by carpenter Niall Barrett at your library or online - I've built several floor to ceiling bookcases based on his designs
@Gail Harris I just ordered his book on bookcases from Amazon for just over 7.00. My husband can't say that I didn't give him enough to work from.
Basic bookshelves are not difficult if you have some carpentry skills. There are many good videos on You Tube that will explain every detail of the process. However, owning a custom cabinet shop if you are trying to do complete built in's then you may want to take into consideration hiring a finish carpenter depending on what the exterior finish is of your fireplace. Fireplaces that have brick or stone exteriors need to have a professional touch so you don't have gaps, etc. when fitting the bookcases into the area. Also, if you want them to go wall to wall and floor to ceiling with crown, etc. then your walls will not be straight (none of them are) and you will want to use trim moldings or wood that can easily be scribed to the wall.
No go to Ana-white.com and she has tons of different styles and free plans to make your own for cheaper than you can buy them. You won't be disappointed. I LOVE her ideas.
We went to Ikea and bought 2 very nice bookcases at a great price to put on each side of our fireplace. I went to Lowe's & got some trim to make it look built-in. Love it, good luck with yours.
@Terri Hamann Thanks, Terri! Any pic or can you tell me the model # and size of your ikea bookshelves?