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We moved into our home in the fall of 2000 and at the time our son, Evan, was just turning 5.  In an effort to make his new room feel more like home, we decided to paint and decorate there first.  Storage was definitely an issue.

So my husband, Tyson, took to designing his very first built-in bookcase.  We knew that we wanted something with lots of shelving and a cabinet area for games and such.  We opted to check out a local salvage and hardware store in Portland that has amazing and unexpected treasures to be discovered.  Tyson was specifically looking for kitchen doors to repurpose into the base cabinet for the bookcase.  He wanted to pick them out before he began construction to help determine the width of the case and head off any design dilemma’s that might arise.

This is where the story took an interesting turn.  Tyson arrived at the store late in the day and the staff was super great to help him quickly find their selection of cabinet doors.  As he looked through their inventory, he was finding he was having to hunch over to get into a smaller area under some stairs to look at what was in stock.  As he moved further and further to the back of the area, suddenly the lights went out!  It was completely dark as the staff was beginning to close up the shop for the night and my 6ft tall husband was stuck in a cramped spot… in complete darkness.  Unable to turn or move without seeing where he was going and for fear of knocking things over, he called out to the staff and (thankfully) the lights quickly came back on.  Tyson ended up leaving with a set of narrow kitchen cabinet doors and a single large square paneled one.  For the record, we love this store and continue to shop there.  We just try to stay out of compromising positions.

I have just a few photos to share of our process, since this was long before I knew I might want to share it with others.  My guys had some great father/son time painting the bookcase.

Here is a shot of the finished bookcase before the installation of the crown or base moldings.

Tyson ended up using the set of narrow doors for the bookcase as we decided they would probably hold up better with active kids and their friends.  A large paneled door seemed like a good candidate for being leaned on, having the hinges strained and getting banged around A LOT.

Before & After:

Yeah… if I had known I’d be sharing these photos with everyone, I probably would’ve closed that closet door.  Thankfully, we’ve all come a long way.

Tyson learned a lot about striping years of paint and life off of the doors and I think we were both excited to provide a new home for some salvaged doors.

A decade later, we’re still happy with the results.


The bookcase has provided a ton of storage and made great use of the exterior closet wall.

And as a behind-the-scenes bonus… if anyone ever decides to remove the bookcase, they will discover the original color that we painted 5 year old Evan’s room.  His room has since been repainted into a teen lounge with neutral tan walls and pops of red.  But it once was light blue… our little guys favorite color.