Our living room is separated from the dining room (not used as a dining room) by a 6' wide opening. So there are two 32" wide walls on either side of this opening. We used to have two old floor-to-ceiling bookcases there up until February. I removed them when we ripped out the carpet and put in hardwood. (details on that in this thread.)
We originally intended to replace the bookcases, but decided we like the larger/brighter more-open feel to the LR with them gone. However, this has lead to a lack of book shelving space in the living room. We're big readers, our kids also, so we usually have anywhere from 20-40 books out from the library at any one time. So we really would like to have at least one small bookcase in the LR to hold our "current reads".
So I set out to design something small to go against one of those stub walls. So the maximum width is 32". Allow a bit for baseboard and I started with a 31" width. We wanted to keep it short, so for height I started with the height of our mission loveseat, or 30".
For inspiration, I was partly following this photo of an arts and crafts bookcase from FWW -- I don't have the article, I'm not following their plan, just working off the photo. (this plan is for a 12 1/2 deep by 36 in. wide by 43 7/8 in. tall case, so it's rather taller than our constraints.)
Actually, I first doodled up a design with solid/slab sides and it somehow looked very thin and empty, so I quickly moved over to a design with a raised-panel side as on the FWW bookcase.
As I worked with the design, I felt that something was off with the proportions. Sorry, I didn't keep the earliest plans. I think that our space constraints were affecting the design. I wanted a 12" gap for the bottom shelf, to accomodate tall books. But then, there was really only room for one more shelf, and the space just looked sort of spindly, too much gap. So I raised up the bottom shelf a bit. I added some curve to the front rails (top and bottom) and this is where I am right now for my "first" option:
I still felt that the top shelf section just seemed a bit off, but I couldn't quite put it into words. I felt almost like the bookcase "wanted" to be taller. So I stretched things vertically by four inches to give this:
This makes the second shelf actually shorter, and also gives room for a third short five-inch shelf (for magazines or books laying on their sides. This look okay, but it is a bit taller than we were hoping.
So I went back to the first option and instead pulled it down by just 3/4 of an inch to give this:
And now my wife are at the "let's just sit on this for a while and see if we think of anything else, or if we decide we like one design over another". Which means it's a good time to post this here and see if anyone else has some good comments or ideas. Anyone?
Also, I'm looking for ideas on shelf attachments. I'm not really much for adjustable shelves. Neither is my wife. We find that we set them, and almost never touch them again. So I generally prefer to think out the design in advance and just build in fixed shelves. It's usually a lot simpler. Having a raised panel for the side complicates that a bit though, I suspect. Can I just attach the middle shelves with dowels -- to the stiles, not the panel? (I recently obtained a Dowelmax jig). Movement might be an issue there. Even for the bottom shelf, having a rail and stile introduces a cross-grain connection... Hmm.
ps: This probably will be a summer project -- got two others ahead of it in the queue, so no rush. And I will likely build it with some very nice (select-n-better) red oak, 5/4, that I recently scored. SO the above is not the best wood grain pattern for the sketchup drawing, but it was the best I had.