Faux Fireplace Bookshelf for the Library

I'm no stranger to small spaces. We spent the better part of our kids' toddler years living in 1200 square feet. You get creative with storage options and making spaces multi-functioning. 

The elementary library I work in is also small. It's basically a converted classroom full of bookshelves and tables...since it also doubles as a meeting space. As the room was originally arranged there was little space for an actual reading area. Sure, kids can sit in chairs and read at a table, but they do that all day in their classrooms. It's nice to stretch out or sit on something soft while settling into a book.
So I started the year with the challenge to carve out some space to make a reading nook. It was no small task. We needed manpower (and kid power) to remove all the books from two twelve-foot long bookshelves. Did I mention one was double-sided? So.Many.Books! Moving books sounds simple enough, but, if you don't work out like I don't, it's exhausting! I wish I'd taken a picture of the MOUNDS of books piled on tables and chairs. 
After removing the books, dusting and removing the shelves, it took three adults heaving and shoving to slide the shelves around. Did I mention these behemoths were solid wood? Whew! I wish I'd worn yoga pants instead of jeans, it was a sweaty dirty day. 

When I put in a request for materials my boss asked me if my husband was handy. Nope. I'd be doing all the work. Am I handy? Uh, I'm a problem solver with tools, is that close enough? I didn't really tell her that, just smiled and nodded. My "plan" as it was involved chicken scratches over a photocopy of the wall. I did make the effort to check with the Fire Marshall to make sure the shelf was the appropriate amount of space from the door and outlets. It made me sound more like I knew what I was doing.

The plan was to return from Christmas break with the faux fireplace bookshelf to surprise the students.

So they gave me the green light and ordered supplies. And then I freaked out and over thought my plans. Maybe I should have gotten wider boards? Did I really want the shelves moveable? Would they support the weight? Questions questions questions.

 I didn't have a how-to tutorial to follow. I made my own up and decided that was appropriate since this was a custom shelf. My How-To was more of a How-Do?
How do I use a table saw?
How do I frame this out?
How do I fix the tilting?
How do I use this air compressor nail gun?

Good thing I'm a problem solver with tools! And thank you neighbor for letting me use your tools!

Most of the wood was newly purchased from Home Depot and Lowes (I had to make a couple trips after I miscalculated how much was needed). The fireplace, however, was made from a broken door. Click Here to see. A co-worker painted the flames. Isn't she good!?!?! They turned out amazing!

Now I am collecting proposals for the murals. Our mascot is the Black Bear so I'm thinking of a forest theme with a log cabin. The first mural I'm shooting for is a log cabin wall behind this faux fireplace. It's going to look incredible!

The shelves now hold our Realistic Fiction genre. Appropriately fits the ambiance of the reading nook. I like the idea of kids imagining that they are in a forest cabin reading by the fire. It sounds so relaxing.

The kids are already drawn to this place. It's quickly become a favorite place to park after checking out their books. They even sit near the fire to "keep warm." Love it! 

The faux fireplace shelf is about 95% finished. I still need to make the hearth. I'd like it to look like bricks...but that is a project for another day. Preferably over a three day weekend.


  1. Amazing! You are a crafty DIY genius. I bet library is the kids’ favorite place to be now. And I can picture the wall behind it with the log mural. I really hope you’ll share it when it’s complete. I am so impressed Audra!! Bravo!! 👏👏👏

    1. Awwww, thanks Kim! The kids have REALLY enjoyed it this week. Once they have their books checked out they park themselves in front of it until its time to leave. Well worth the effort of putting it together.


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