Bookshelves and Mantles

Whether built in or free standing, bookshelves are an opportunity to both organize and display your literature and knick-knacks. A custom bookshelf allows you to truly maximize the storage potential of whatever space you have to work with. The Mantle is a central piece to any room with a fire place, and a custom mantle can add both utility and esthetic appeal.

Custom Bookshelves

Oak bookshelf with melamine shelving

This oak built-in was delivered in five pieces, all custom designed to fit the space perfectly. The shelving is two units, as well as the base, all on top of a base pedestal. The shelving is done in almond melamine faced in oak, with color-matched steel shelf standards. The shelves are anchored to the wall with oak cleats top and bottom.

Oak bookshelf with lower drawers

The bookmatched drawer faces are a consistent feature of my cabinetry, and the units are all measured to fit in exactly the space provided – leaving just enough room for the door. The pedestal is recessed in the back and sides, so that the shoe mouldings don’t have to be removed for installation.

White maple bookshelf

This white maple bookshelf lives in a wide hallway, This customer preferred shelf pins as opposed to vertical metal shelf standards. The choice between the two is largely customer preference, but shelf standards stand up to heavier loads. This was built as two units, and they are anchored together for a consistent reveal.

white maple bookshelf with CD drawers

The two upper drawers in this unit, also in the wide hallway adjacent to the above unit, are sized for CD storage. The glass handles reflect the light coming into the hallway, for a dash of color on the white maple construction. This also was constructed as two units, but are anchored together for a consistent reveal despite the floor’s unevenness.

Tetris style rearrangable oak shelves

This customer liked the option of randomly rearranging her wall unit. Remember the game Tetris©? These six “L” shaped Oak cubicles have Padauk trim. They can be laid flat or turned vertical to create a different form and function. Light to lift and easy to change.

office bookshelves

This law firm needed 150 linear feet of bookshelf in compliance with the fire code. The pieces were built from poplar, stained to match existing mahogany pieces already in the office.

office bookshelves

Unlike prefabricated bookshelves for this purpose, these shelves feature added depth to accommodate the large banker boxes that the customer uses for long-term storage.

hickory bookcase

A bookshelf/banco/file drawer catch-all unit built into a 9 foot wall span. Done in hickory, it features a natural, water-based finish. The bottom unit features letter-sized file drawers flanking two large, deep bancos sitting above two shallow drawers. The bookshelves are not the same width, owing to the oddities of the house, but they help draw the eye towards the windows and the overarching bookshelf, making an inviting place to sit and read in the sun.

pine bookcase

Done in Pine with a clear coat finish, this free standing, complete wall-length bookcase offers adjustable shelving. I used a recessed metal track system for the shelving to support the weight of books.

book case on adobe wall

I also made the complementary built-in wall cabinet, accommodating the adobe bricks. Behind the herring-bone design doors are adjustable shelves. Combined with the full extension drawers below, this cabinet allows for maximum storage.

Built In Shelves

The customer wanted functional shelf space built on either side of the fireplace. With open shelves, sliding doors and full extension drawers, this bookcase doubles as an entertainment center with incredible storage. Behind the sliding doors are albums while the drawers are filled with CDs and cassettes. The stereo equipment is behind smoked glass doors on the right, to balance the dark screen television on the left.

Painted built-in

This customer wanted a built-in look to go on either side of his fireplace. I made this in Poplar, with paint-grade Maple backing. When I do painted projects, I deal with the Benjamin Moore Advanced line of paint. Despite the extended cure time, the end durability is a good tradeoff, because the finish flattens and hides the brushstrokes in the end.

Painted built-in

Because of the river stone fascia on the fireplace, the measurements were critical, and as you can see, these were spot on. The customer had actually gone to get his hammer and chisel to chip away the stone, but it ultimately proved unnecessary. Also notice the recessed base – this was supremely easy for the customer to install, as the baseboard moulding were left untouched.


For those homes with unusable niche openings, consider a recessed book shelf. The outer flange/frame conceals any irregularities in the wall. This customer used a unique color scheme, with burgundy red background and a white frame.


The Oak with fruitwood stain bookshelf is built in and around a pair of French doors. I matched the stain with the doors to make a seamless connection between doors and cabinetry. As always, each shelf is adjustable.

Mahogany wall unit

The customer had a small, modern Scandinavian desk made in Teak. What they needed was a wall unit to match. Although expensive, Mahogany became our wood of choice.

mahogany wall unit

With the right stain and styling, the original desk was matched to this 12-foot wall credenza and top hutch with adjustable shelves. In this case, even the use of Mahogany was economical to the prohibitive cost of Teak in achieving the customer’s goals.

Oak Bookshelf

This bookshelf is done in red Oak, and features a detail in the face, a 1/4″ groove, that matches pre-existing furniture that the customer had in the same room. It’s often the little details that make the aesthetic work.

Oak bookshelf

This shows the three bookshelf units lined up after installation. By making multiple half-height bookshelves, the customer gained a small display area for his Nambé bowls.

Oak Bookshelf

Normally, bookshelves have a backing to add structural rigidity, and keep it from leaning to the left or right. This customer requested a cabinet with no back. To accommodate this requirement, I simply added face frames on the front and back, and some discreet diagonal bracing in the upper corners.

 Custom Mantles


Oak fireplace mantle

Originally, this fireplace was two-dimensional, flat tile into sheetrock left it appearing unfinished for the customer. I designed two side pillars to hold a healthy, wide mantel. The back splash frames the mantel and artwork on top. The customer used the left side for wood storage – the side panel of Oak protects the wall from logs damaging the sheetrock.

Custom flagstone fireplace mantle

Anchoring fireplaces to the wall is a big challenge. In working with flagstone as my backdrop, I used a custom made template to seam the Oak mantel with the irregular surface of flagstone.

Bronze fireplace mantle

A simpler design of fireplace mantel uses corbels – not pillars – to suspend the mantel over the fireplace. To address heat flow and fire codes, a bronze mirror was placed between the Mahogany mantel and fireplace opening as a spacer – an alternative to completing an unfinished look.