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The Ideal DIY Library

by Adlay Almeida August 28, 2016 0 Comments

DIY Home Library with Rakks Aluminum Book Shelves


When I was a tiny thing, newly initiated in the literary universe, I used to visit an aunt that had dedicated her entire living room to books. It was glorious. Surrounded by so many stories, the idea began to germinate in my subconscious that one day I would have an equally wondrous library.

Unfortunately, this goal never fully materialized. I did end up with a library, mind you, but far smaller, like Bramante’s mock-up of St. Peters. It was cool, but not quite like my aunt’s, whose masterpiece was imposing and attention grabbing, a conversation piece for the ages.

This held true for many years; until a baby altered the equation…

A Tentative Step

Five months back, as I arose from my Saturday morning slumber, Mylene delivered the news: a baby was on its way. Amazing! What a blessing! We hugged and cheered and verbalized the future. It was equal parts scary and exciting. I was confused, thrilled, and...oh crap, the library. Suddenly, with the impact of a Category 5 hurricane, the realization hit me that the library had to go.

Our abode, unlike the average American residence, is fairly small. There are three rooms, but all three are limited in size. Before baby, one room was a Pantheon to books, the other an office, and the third our bedroom. Somehow, someway, I had to devise a master plan to merge the office and library or lose our books altogether. We decided to go down fighting.

The Muses Strike

Our original library had bookshelves from Ikea hugging the walls; too many bookshelves if you ask me. In my initial excitement I did not realize that our book collection was fairly small and bought enough furniture to house the entire collection of the Library of Congress. It would fill up a bit over the years, but it still looked a bit bare.

DIY Home Library with Ikea Book Shelves

I spent days taking measurements, obsessing about angles and dimensions, hoping for a miraculous solution that would allow us to salvage most of our collection. Moving was a possibility, but completely unnecessary considering the circumstances. I searched online and looked at pictures for inspiration. Sadly, I slowly came to the realization that most libraries I saw were housed in spacious and grandiose structures, nothing like our Thoreau like cabin (a bit of an exaggeration, considering all 1300 square feet available to us). There had to be a better solution than bookshelves. This is where Rakks came to the rescue.

Rakks Book Shelves

While researching I came upon a company that made storage solutions for schools and libraries. Their product was a bit pricey for our taste, but it looked amazing and highly functional. The floating shelves would make it possible to stack the books on top of the desk, which is a far better utilization of the available space. My wife, an engineer by trade, carried out all the fancy calculations and decided that the project was a possibility. We bought the parts, sold the Ikea bookshelves on Craiglist, and painted the walls.

All that was left was installing the parts. Easy enough, right? No so fast, Homer.

The Wall

You stupid, stupid wall. Why couldn’t you have metal studs, or wooden studs like other normal walls. In a mood killer of epic proportions we realized, shortly before beginning the installation, that our wall had furring (small pieces of wood). These were too small to hold the weight. I was devastated.

At the edge of the precipice, disappointed but holding out hope, I removed one of the electric plates hoping to see the exact dimensions of the furring; our house is, like most constructions today, an absolute architectural mess, so perhaps our setup was different; and different it was. The construction crew had actually stacked two furrings on top of each other, allowing the screws to go deep enough without hitting the concrete and creating enough load support for all the books. It was actually perfect!

Frantically, I re-initiated the project. I located the wooden strips, measured distances, and began to drill, thirty-two holes in total. I was in a trance, enamored with the idea that our books could stay; all our boys, our tidy, compact little boys. I went at it like a man possessed, while Mylene fetched water and shouted words of inspiration, like captain Ahab in Moby Dick.

Installing Rakks Standards for DIY home Library

Rakks Aluminum Book Shelves System Installed

Hours later, with multiple bodily scratches but my pride unscathed, we installed the surfaces and organized the books. With the help of family we installed the desk, quickly organized our equipment, and took a step back. The result was absolutely sensational.

DIY Home Library and Office with Ikea and Rakks Furniture

Rakks Book Shelves with books

Piano and Ikea World map on home office

To this day, as we step into our office, we can’t help but fall in love all over again. We feel immense pride and tender affection for this marvel of engineering, now surpassed only by our tiny shoot of hope: Daphne.

Lessons Learned

Life is a series of transitions. I always wanted an amazing library, but found it only when life threw a curveball. If your desires take time to materialize, be patient. Good things do come to those who wait. We could have taken the high road and paid a pretty penny for a larger home, or paid someone instead to formulate a solution, but we took life by the horn and battled the elements. It was stressful at times, I will not deny it, but we grew from the experience and found greater fulfillment. In a day and age of quick fixes and superficial solutions it behooves us to slow down and think. Our brain is, after all, our greatest asset. Yes there were some literary fatalities in the process (books that had to be donated in order to create a more eclectic, pared down collection), but believe me, it was worth it. All 32 screws.

Do you have a captivating story about your library? Are you proud of it, or would you love to tear it down and begin anew? We’d love to hear about it.

Adlay Almeida
Adlay Almeida


Sizing Chart
Literary T-shirt Sizing Chart

Chest (A) 30.5 in
32.5 in
82.5 cm
34.5 in
87.6 cm
36.5 in
92.7 cm
39.5 in
100.3 cm
42.5 in
108 cm
Length (B) 24.75 in
63 cm
25.5 in
64.8 cm
26 in
66 cm
26.5 in
67.3 cm
27.25 in
69.2 cm
28 in
71.1 cm

Chest (C) 38 in
96.5 cm
41 in
104.1 cm
44 in
111.8 cm
48 in
121.9 cm
52 in
132.1 cm
56 in
142.2 cm
Length (D) 28 in
71.1 cm
29 in
73.6 cm
30 in
76.2 cm
31 in
78.7 cm
32 in
81.3 cm
33 in
83.8 cm

Chest (E) 37 in
94 cm
40 in
101.6 cm
43 in
109.2 cm
47 in
119.4 cm
51 in
129.5 cm
Length (F) 28 in
71.1 cm
29 in
73.6 cm
30 in
76.2 cm
31 in
78.7 cm
32 in
81.3 cm
Sleeve Length 26.0in
66 cm
67.3 cm
27.0 in
68.6 cm
27.5 in
70 cm
28 in
71.1 cm

Measurement Notes:
Chest is measured 1" below armhole.
Body length in the front from highest point of shoulder.
Sleeve length from shoulder edge