Bay Window Built in Bookshelf Makeover

6 Materials
3 Days

My feature bay window was lacking some pizazz. Adding small built built in bookshelves and LED strip lighting made it a show stopper.

I started construction by opening removing the drywall and opening the walls on the sides. Since this is an exterior space we filled the walls with R19 insulation to cut down on energy loss and and noise insulation.

We filled the upper cavity with more R19 for energy saving and noise insulation.

We added tongue and groove paneling for the backs of the bookshelves to match the rest of the wood features of my 1914 craftsman.

After all the framing with beadboards on the sides and top we added accent shelves with trim that matches my doors and windows. We caulked all the seams and uses Cabinet rescue white paint for endurance. I used reclaimed heart pine from another project in my house that I planed down and made a seat out of for the window and coated in 3 coats of triple thick polyurethane to stand up to my cats using this as their own personal lounging space.

We added LED cabinet strip lights across the top and ran the wires behind the trim boards for a finished look. The lights plug in to the outlet under the window and come with a touch pad for various settings that is mounted on the side with it’s Velcro backing.

Those little suckers are bright! They are are also dimable for atmosphere on movie night.

The shelves are 6” deep and are the perfect depth to showcase my treasures.

They fit featured art work, books or holiday decorations as needed.

The end result was a versatile space that adds elegance and style to my room. The entire project took about three days from demo to painting. The entire project was made out of salvaged wood, scrap material and finishing supplies from other home projects. Cost - 0. Impact - priceless.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Shelli Kisch Haipek
    on Nov 19, 2018

    Great idea! Looks awesome, I have a bay window seat that would be great idea for. Question tho, your 1916 home has drywall? I have a 1916 home as well and it's all plaster. Much more difficult to just cut and remove. Any suggestions?

    • Shandra Serrano
      on Nov 19, 2018

      I usually say drywall because that’s what newer homes have. My house has the old lathe & plaster too. That works to your Advantage! Take off the plaster & cut out the lathe & you’ll gain about 2”. I take my oscillating tool and cut a clean line where I need to remove it - it will cut right through the plaster & lathe (will take several passes) and then remove as usual.

  • Ruth
    on Nov 19, 2018

    Very beautiful! Quetion: how did you nail or otherwise fasten the shelves in place? What kind of woodworking skills and tools are needed?

    • Shandra Serrano
      on Nov 19, 2018

      I used my compressor with a brad nailer to nail the shelves in place. I used wood cleats under the shelves for support (just in case), but the trim piece hides them. Everything is easier with power tools, but as long as you can measure & cut anyone can do this with hand tools as well.

  • Dalton James Rose
    on Nov 26, 2018

    This looks very nice but won’t the natural light coming through the window fade any items you store on them?

Join the conversation

4 of 35 comments
  • Nancy Fisher
    on Dec 15, 2018

    I would have to think twice about what to display on the shelves. Mom's cat would clear the shelves just to watch them crash!

    • Shandra Serrano
      on Dec 28, 2018

      We have cats as well - the large solid pieces of wood aren’t a challenge for them, so they aren’t interested in testing it. 😉

  • Larry shriver
    on Dec 28, 2018

    Whenever fiberglass insulation is compresed, you decrease it's insulation value. That is why there are the paper flanges on each side; so that it can be stapled or nailed to the framing members without compressing it. For the bats without the flanges, one is supposed to just install them loosely. If the spacing of the studs is correct, they will be held by friction with the studs.

    • Shandra Serrano
      on Dec 28, 2018

      You are absolutely correct - insulation requires air flow to be effective. Despite what the pictures may reflect, there is a large cavity that I filled with insulation - the triangle shaped space above the bay window is about 2 1/‘ deep so I used R19 to fill it loosely.

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