What Am I Doing Now?

Last year was the year of photography with my Project 365. This year I’m turning my attention to my home. I’ve kind of ignored it for a while, I suppose. Just living here and not paying too much attention to making many improvements, unless they were forced upon me. It’s been easy, over the years with all my various distractions, to turn a blind eye to some things that I really should have addressed sooner.

For example, for the longest time all of our A/V gear was stacked on an end table with video cassettes (have to find some way to use those things these days) between various components to provide room to breathe. Buying an entertainment center was always in the back of my mind, but I just kept putting it off for one reason or another.

Well, I finally decided enough is enough. My plan is to go through my house room by room and give each a makeover of some kind. There is a lot of making over that needs to be done, so this year we’ll probably just stick to the ground floor.

First up was the living room. Unfortunately, the living room is probably the one in the most desperate need of help. All of the furniture was either really old, or cheap or both. It was also dominated by a 57″ rear project television set. That set was flanked by the A/V gear I mentioned above, and one of those cheap particleboard bookcases you might get at Wal-Mart. This was filled with a few books, but mostly video games and movies. There was also a CD stand over in the corner filled with CDs. Also in that area was a “toy basket” that my kids use, but more often used by kids that my wife watches from time to time. Along the opposite wall is a computer armoire with the same kind of construction as the bookshelf. Not only is there a computer there, but some other odds and ends.

What I wanted to do was hide most of this stuff in cabinets and generally make the living room look a little less cluttered. As I thought about it, I decided a proper entertainment center would go a long way towards providing a home for the movies, games, and A/V gear. So, we finally broke down and purchased a lovely entertainment center and clear out a lot of clutter. But there was still the computer to consider. It occurred to me I could probably build a set of cabinets / bookcase / computer desk along the wall where the old television set used to be and still not have it take up as much room. In addition I could take books and items from the upstairs bookcase and move them downstairs, freeing up some room in the bedroom.

Bookcase from hell

After much thought, I came up with a design (using Google SketchUp) for a bookcase that would provide some storage space for the things I’d like hidden away, as well as the computer and provide shelves for some books as well as various decorative items. It was going to be pretty enormous. Ten feet long and stretching from floor to ceiling. I was going to make it all from MDF, paint it white to match the molding and transition border round the top of the living room, and add matching crown molding and baseboards to make it look truly built in.

I figured it would take a few weeks.

I was spectacularly wrong.

I’ve been working on this bookcase for… ever. I don’t even know when I started. I just know that it goes on and on. A lot of this has to do with my make nearly complete lack of experience. I built some rolling cabinets for the garage a couple years back, but that was nothing compared to this. There are about 100 pieces in my design. It may not be obvious at first, but besides the various sized shelves and dividers, I also built in channels to hide cords for the computer equipment and lighting. In addition, to provide strength and help with alignment, all the side and back panels have dados cut in them. And there are some corners that were rounded overs, and and ogee cut along the desk surface… It’s just a ton of work.

I’m probably about two thirds done.

The cabinets are done. And most of the shelving. I just have a couple pieces to work on there. Next up is the top section and the lights. Then the molding and baseboards (and I get to learn about coping joints), then finally the cabinet doors where I’ll learn how to make raised panel doors.

So that’s my project these days. I’ve created set on flickr with a few pictures of the project. I’ll try and post more as I move further along. One day, hopefully before I die. It will all be done. Then I can relax and admire my handiwork for a bit.

Then move on to the dining room.