So it all started with Pinterest. Actually, back that up, it all started with the thrift store by my house that sells great condition board books for 50 cents or less. Due to the boys’ love of books, the books began to slowly take over the playroom, then the living room, then the kitchen, and the bathroom. I was constantly tripping over books.
Enter Pinterest. After searching for kids bookshelves I came to the conclusion that there are only two general types of kids bookshelves featured on Pinterest that would actually be reasonable in my tiny home: ikea spice rack bookshelves and rain gutter bookshelves. While I’m the first to admit that the ikea bookshelves with their “no assembly required” definitely catered more to my skill set, I hit one roadblock there: we don’t have an ikea locally, and they don’t sell them online. After consulting Google Maps and determining that it was a bit silly to drive 256 miles from my house to the nearest ikea, I started looking up tutorials for rain gutter bookshelves. The general consensus seemed to be the following: buy rain gutters, cut them to size, mount them to wall. Voila! Bookshelves. Okay, simple enough. I can do that. So I offer to you my very own tutorial: How to make super awesome rain gutter bookshelves without losing your mind (or a finger).
Rain Gutters: (duh!) Gutters come in 10 foot lengths. We wanted wall to wall shelves, so we measured that wall. You can pick an arbitrary length or measure a wall of your own.
Brackets: All of the other tutorials skimmed over this part so I was confused. Buy a bracket for every 2 feet of shelf that you want. If you don’t know what brackets are, it’s okay. They will be by the gutters, and neatly labeled.
End Caps for the Gutters: In my opinion, if you are going to have your shelves run flush from wall to wall, these are optional because you wont have any sharp, rough edges exposed. However if you want shorter shelves, a more polished look, or if the guy at Lowe’s who helps you saw your gutters down to size wields the hacksaw like a drunken murderer, you’ll probably want to opt for the end caps.
Dry Wall Anchors and Screws: Dry wall anchors are those plastic things that you shove into the wall before you put the screw in so that you don’t have to be bothered by doing things like finding studs. Make sure you don’t buy pegboard drywall anchors even if the package is a pretty yellow color and has the exact number of screws you need. They are not the same thing, which you will eventually discover and you may cry.
A Drill: Remember to charge it before hand if it’s cordless.
Sun Chips: We recommend Jalapeno Jack, but any flavor will do.
1. Head to the hardware store to pick up your items. Put on your pretty smile that makes people want to do things for you and ask someone to help you cut the gutters down to size so that they fit in your car. (Optional: if they cut the rain gutters more crookedly than you could have imagined, hustle back over to the gutters and grab some of those end caps that you didn’t plan on needing.)
2. Pay for you items. (Optional: While paying for you items, answer 20 questions from the cashier about what you’re doing with the rain gutters, how that will work, where you got that idea, what kind of books you’re going to put on it, why don’t you just buy actual bookshelves, etc.)
3. Load you car with the items. (Optional: Slice your finger open trying to fold you backseat down to make room for the gutters. Pout a little)
4. Arrive home and instruct your husband to unload the car.
5. Show your husband where the employee cut the gutter for you, and find out that even an end cap wont cover that crooked of a cut. Send your husband out to find the hacksaw. (Optional: Have your husband return from the garage empty-handed, remembering that the hacksaw broke the last time he used it. Brainstorm what to use to cut through gutter.)
6. Use a sharp implement of your choice to even up the cut on the gutter (Ginsu knives, anyone?)
7. Slide the brackets onto the gutter from the ends. (Optional: Try to clip them on without sliding them on from the ends, and when they don’t clip on all the way, ignore your husband telling you that you’re doing it wrong. When he proves his point by sliding them on correctly, pretend the whole thing never happened.)
8. Use some sort of plastic on plastic glue to adhere the end caps to the gutters. We are Gorilla Glue kind of people around here.
9. Get out the drywall anchors. (Optional: Realize that they are peg board anchors and are not at all the right thing. Return to the store and exchange them for actual drywall anchors.)
10. Take the gutter to the wall you want to install it on. (Optional: Realize that you cut the gutter a 1/2 inch too long and try as you might, it doesn’t fit on the wall. Pry of Gorilla Glued end cap, and use the Ginsu knife to trim an additional 1/2 inch off of the end. Find out that if the gutter ends are perfectly straight the end caps don’t need gorilla glue, but can just be snapped on. Also realize that your husband can cut a better line with a Ginsu knife that you won 5 years ago at the county fair than an employee at a home improvement store with an actual saw.)
11. Position the brackets where you want them (we did about 22 inches apart) and hold the gutter up to the wall where you want it. Use a level (really, do this, because what feels level is usually not, and you want a bookshelf, not a slide) and mark where you want the screws in the brackets to go on the wall. (Optional: Forget to grab a pen a silently curse your husband for taking the longest time to go get one while you hold the gutter, trying not to let it budge a millimeter before you mark it.
12. Optional: Eat some sun chips.
13. Use a giant drill bit (5/16) to drill on your marks, and then pop the drywall anchors in. (Optional: Make your husband do all this, due to your previous thumb-related injury.)
14. Hold the gutter in place while your husband uses the drill to screw the brackets into the drywall anchors. Load with books and admire.
15. Repeat with additional shelves as necessary. (Optional: When installing the second shelf right above the first one, with the brackets in the exact same place, hit 2 studs that you didn’t hit the first time. After expressing concern that there are studs in the top part of our wall, but apparently not the bottom part, move on and drill those screws straight into the stud.)
And that’s it. Bookshelves from rain gutters. Who would have thought? More of a pain than ikea spice racks, probably. However, I just love the way they look.