Bookshelf Idea - Opinions invited

Hi all. In my living room I have a 2 spaces on both sides of a chimney breast. The spaces are about 42 inches wide x 18" deep. The ceiling height is 10 feet. I was planning to build a set of bookshelves into one of the recesses with a bottom shelf say 4.5 to 5 feet from the floor and then the whole thing would continue up to the ceiling...perhaps 5 or 6 shelves in all.
But I had a brainstorm yesterday and the alternative idea I've had is to fill half of the recess VERTICALLY. That is a 20-21" wide shelving from floor to ceiling. I would use two 8 -10" wide board by 10 feet long. And then have ten to twelve shelves fixed between the vertical boards...or perhaps a cabinet at the bottom.
I think it sounds great idea to me but I have begun to think it may look like a piece of department store display fixture.
What do you think?
Thanks.
Arthur
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I forgot to mention the shelf system would be built into 1 side of the recess.
Arthur
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On Wed, 18 Feb 2009 06:46:25 -0800, Arthur 51 wrote:

IMHO:
Before building the shelves, contemplate what you're going to put on the shelves. DAMHIKT, but the *what* you put on the shelves does make a difference to the woman in your life. And don't even think about any paper-back books. Your fireplace in the living room is still a place where friends and relatives are entertained.
Display for your lathe turnings? High gloss coffee table styled full color cookbooks? Stuff from craft shows you picked up? Sound system and latest music media collection? Souvenirs from latest vacations? Photographs? All have their own design (height, width, depth, and shelf strength) requirements. Dado the shelves into place, or drill holes for adjustment in future?
Anything over 6' high will still have to be dusted now and then. How will *YOU* do this? (are you expecting the woman in your life to dust a shelf that is over 8' in the air? Hmmm? Have you asked her about her dragging a ladder around?)
You would be surprised by the number of women who like solid doors on the bottom shelves so things can be jammed (Hidden?) into them when someone unexpected comes to the door. (read: you do the hiding while she answers the door.) Will the lower shelves hold plastic bins for toys which can be quickly filled and then stashed behind closed doors?
Again, just my opinion. Your money, your time, and your home.
Good luck.
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What are those walls on either side made out of? Drywall? Brick?
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Hi. The house is quite old and the walls are brick built.
Arthur
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So the brick can be seen on the inside? On either side of the fire- place? Okay... how about a picture?
I have done some torsion boxes in situations like that. Floating from the face of the wall. But the wall itself has to be interesting.
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wrote:

| So the brick can be seen on the inside? On either side of the fire- | place? | Okay... how about a picture?
| I have done some torsion boxes in situations like that. Floating from | the face of the wall. But the wall itself has to be interesting.
The walls are plastered. I currently have a computer desk within the recess.
Here is a link to house thats for sale that shows a chimney breast with a recess to the side. But in my house the window in the picture is just a plain flat wall.
http://tinyurl.com/bkfbyz Picture 2
Basically, my idea is like this A B C ======================== ceiling || I || || I || C || I --------- || H || I || I || I || M || I --------- || N || I || E || I || Y || I --------- || || I || B || I || R || I --------- || E || I || A || I || S || I --------- || T || I || || I || || I --------- || || I || || I || || I || || I || || I || +++++++++++++++++++++ floor A B C
A - A is corner of chimney breast. C - C plain room wall B - B is a vertical board - shelves on one side only(right or left)
The recess is actually 12" deep.
Thanks.
Arthur
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[about space alongside a chimney/fireplace]

Aesthetically, it's a good plan; the texture of the chimney stone will not abut the smooth wood, and your upper shelves will be suitable for display items, while lower ones will be useful for books. Low shelves get dusty, and enclosing a bit of the bottom, with cabinet doors, is a good idea too.
Attaching the shelves will require TWO vertical boards per case, not one. Fix some shelves (at bottom and top of the cabinet, and one shelf near the top), into dados, to complete the case. Various adjustable shelf systems are available, and work very well for such narrow shelves; a hardware store visit will be useful here.
The crack from the ouside vertical board to the wall can be trimmed out in a variety of ways; don't leave a visible crevice.
Your outside wall might get cold enough to condense moisture, which is bad for books; ventilation and/or some kind of insulating layer will help. A gap between the wall and the back edge of the shelf ensures airflow, and it isn't hard to glue a stop so the books don't fill that gap.
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wrote:
[about space alongside a chimney/fireplace]

Aesthetically, it's a good plan; the texture of the chimney stone will not abut the smooth wood, and your upper shelves will be suitable for display items, while lower ones will be useful for books. Low shelves get dusty, and enclosing a bit of the bottom, with cabinet doors, is a good idea too.
Attaching the shelves will require TWO vertical boards per case, not one. Fix some shelves (at bottom and top of the cabinet, and one shelf near the top), into dados, to complete the case. Various adjustable shelf systems are available, and work very well for such narrow shelves; a hardware store visit will be useful here.
The crack from the ouside vertical board to the wall can be trimmed out in a variety of ways; don't leave a visible crevice.
Your outside wall might get cold enough to condense moisture, which is bad for books; ventilation and/or some kind of insulating layer will help. A gap between the wall and the back edge of the shelf ensures airflow, and it isn't hard to glue a stop so the books don't fill that gap.

All of the walls are actually plastered and because its an old house the plastering is a bit deeper at the lower half of the walls. So I think I will have to build the shelves as a movable piece of furniture as opposed to screw individual boards into place one at time. There will probably be gap between the wall side board and the surface of the plaster that will gradually reduce to nothing near the bottom. I will fill this gapwith more plaster.
Thanks for all of your advice.
Arthur
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If this is ten feet tall, you DON'T want it 'movable'; I'm living in earthquake country, we take this kind of thing seriously. The few inches over the highest shelf will be invisible, put a wall bracket/bolt/cleat there. Another can go under the lowest shelf, also invisible.
Plaster in the gap may not work; it'll push the wood away if it's soft, and won't stick to the existing plaster (unless miraculously no one has ever painted the plastered walls). Rather, clamp a long straight stick exactly plumb alongside the wall, and scribe it with a compass against the wall Rip it along the scribe line, nail and/or glue it to the wall, to make a good vertical. This sounds hard, but filling a ten-foot vertical crack with plaster IS hard.
You'll also want to scribe the inboard vertical-to-wall, or cover that with a flexible strip of molding (cove molding).
Water putty or painter's caulk will hide any remaining trim/plaster crevice well enough, and is removable.
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