How to Create Space in a Small House: Make Nooks and Shelves Inside the Walls
Storage Nook Inside a Wall
A Little More Room
When the walls start, space does not necessarily end. For those living in small quarters - such as 700 square feet - finding another 2 or more square feet for storing "stuff" is wonderful!
Movies by the Entertainment Players
A Built-In that YOU Build
Think about where in your home you could benefit from a little extra space for small items. Could you use a small first aid supply station accessible to everyone? Or a place for office supplies or paperback books or trinkets? Shelves are good places for those items, but they eat into the house footprint. Baskets can hold them, but then the basket needs a place to rest. Why not steal a little bit of real estate from the walls?
In my home, I know where my walls have "opportunity areas" without electrical wires or heating ducts. This is because all the walls were un-insulated and I have been slowly ripping them open to check for the possible presence of mold and to add rolls of insulation. I leave it to you to determine safe locations in your walls for a little box of shelves.
Think about the purpose for your nook inside the wall and how many square inches are needed.
Thrift Shop Box
Thrift Shop Find
I have a great group of thrift shops in my area. At the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store, I can purchase inexpensive lumber and building supplies. At other stores, used furniture is deeply discounted.
I wanted to add space in the room I use as an office and TV room. ?? videos? dvds?
As I started forming my concept of a nook, I kept my eyes peeled for building materials. Happily, at the Re-Store, I found an already complete wooden box with dovetail joints in the size range i was contemplating for my office nook for only one dollar!
Test the Location
Determine Exact Location
I held my new wooden box against the desired wall to make the final determination for its location. If you are going to be building a box or adding shelves between studs, you will want to draw the shape on your wall.
Remove or Flatten Obstacles
If you have insulation in the hole, remove it. If there are other items such as nails holding shingles in place, bend them flush against the wall with needle-nosed pliers or pound flat (carefully) with a hammer. You also will want to note the location of the closest stud. You will use at least one stud as either a vertical wall of your nook or as an anchor to which you will attach your insert. Draw a mark on the wall to show the location of the stud, so that the final opening will be cut along it.
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Use a level, a pencil, and either your pre-made insert or a metal straight edge and tape measure. In my case, I had a wooden box to trace. In all cases, be prepared to do a little adjusting and fine-tuning of the opening.
Drawing the Opening
Insure that Bottom or Shelves Are Level
I cut the outline of my box as closely as I could. However, when I tried placing the box inside the wall, it stuck halfway. I trimmed a little more from 2 sides in a quick, less-than-super-careful manner. The box then fit.
My next step was to anchor the box to a stud on only one side. This was due to the size. it did not extend from one stud to another. I was vigilant in using a level to position the nook-box. If you are cutting shelves to attch to studs with corner braces, also use a level to position them.
Using a Level
Caulk or Frame Opening
I chose to caulk the imperfections around my nook. The pink caulk is fantastic, because it turns white when it is finally dry enough to paint. Also, if your nook is using the back of drywall from another room, caulk to seal any openings.
Sand and Paint
When all was dry, I lightly sanded down any bumps. Then I painted the caulk and the wall around nook wherever the jig saw had scraped and left marks. I used tape to protect the inside of the wooden box, which was lovely from the beginning and needed no further improvements.
This was a labor of fun and love for me. If future home owners do not like it, they can hang a picture over the storage space!
Photos and text copyright 2014 Maren E. Morgan.
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