Music Room Pocket Door Bookcase Progress

I have finished the basic build on the first music room bookcase! It still needs crown moulding and baseboard, and a few other finishing details, but for now, here’s how it looks so far…

music room built in bookcases - the basic build complete on the first bookcase

I didn’t get a picture of the door opened all the way behind the bookcase, so I’ll have to show you that later. But when everything is complete, the door will stick out from behind the bookcase just enough for the peacock handles to show. 🙂

And once the bookcases are built, I’ll also add a piece that connects the bookcases along the top that will cover the door hardware between the bookcases. It’s hard to explain the plan, so that will be one of those “wait and see” parts of this project.

So let me show you how I went about this project. First, I measured how far away from the wall my bookcases needed to be, and how wide they needed to be. I cut a piece of 1″ x 2″ to the width of the back of the bookcase, and nailed it to the floor about four inches from the wall.

music room built in bookcases - add a brace to the floor to create pocket door space

I repeated that on the ceiling by nailing a 1″ x 2″ board four inches from the wall. I actually went back and added a second 1″ x 2″ board nailed on top of the first one on the floor. I did that so that I would have something more substantial to nail to along the bottom once I started building the bookcase. I also added baseboards on the wall that will be behind the bookcase.

With the braces and baseboards in place, I painted everything that would be behind the bookcase black. I don’t know if any of this will be visible once the bookcases are finished, but just in case, I wanted everything back there to be completely dark.

music room built in bookcases - paint the wall black

Here’s how the whole wall looked at this point with the braces in place on the floor and ceiling on both sides, and everything that would be behind bookcases or the middle facade painted black.

music room built in bookcases - everything behind the bookcases painted black

Then I was ready to build the bookcase. I started by nailing the back piece to the braces that I had attached to the floor and ceiling using 16-gauge 2-inch nails.

music room built in bookcases - attach the back of the bookcase to the braces on the ceiling and floor

You can see here how the back sits right up against the bottom brace that I attached to the floor.

music room built in bookcases - closeup of bookcase back attached to floor brace

Next I attached the side piece to the wall. This piece was 12 inches wide, and I placed it right up against the back piece and nailed it to the wall.

music room built in bookcases - attach the side piece to the wall

And then I added the other side. This side was wider since it had to sit back far enough to cover the 1 x 2’s that I used as braces on the floor and ceiling. I glued and nailed this side piece on to the braces, and into the edge of the back piece.

music room built in bookcases - attach the other side piece to the edge of the back piece

In order to keep these pieces square, and to give a platform for the very bottom shelf, I made a box out of 2″ x 6″ lumber to fit into the bottom of the bookcase. I nailed this to the MDF on all three sides to keep it in place. Before I nailed it into place, I made sure it was perfectly level and had to use a shim in the back corner to make it sit perfectly level.

music room built in bookcases - build a box frame for the bottom with 1 x 6's

Now generally at this point in building bookcases, I would add the braces for the shelves, and then add the shelves. I would do this before adding any of the finishing face pieces (i.e., rails and stiles on the front of the bookcase).

But this case was a little different. Since I was adding a light to the top, and decided to use an old work junction box for the light, I needed to be very specific with where I put this piece. It had to be far enough from the ceiling so that I would have room for the “tray ceiling” (more on that later) plus the crown moulding that I’ll be adding. So after cutting the hole in the top rail (using a jigsaw) and adding the junction box to the top rail…

music room built in bookcases - add a junction box to the top rail

…I went ahead and attached the two side stiles, and then I measured precisely where the top rail needed to go in order to clear the crown moulding at the top.

music room built in bookcases - attach the top rail

With that piece in place, I could measure exactly where the bookcase top needed to go. It had to go behind the top rail, but it also had to clear (and hide) the junction box. I added the braces (I use shoe moulding for this) for the top of the bookcase, but before I added the top, I ran the wire to the junction box while I still had access to this top area.

music room built in bookcases - run the wire for the light

And finally I was able to add the MDF top to the boockase. It sat on top of the shoe moulding braces, and hid the junction box and wire. I actually ended up having to remove one of the side braces to get the MDF top to fit in there.

music room built in bookcases - add the top to the bookcase behind the top rail

So I added the top and then replaced the side brace.

With the bookcase top and the top rail in place, I could mark and measure for the placement of the shelves. I did those the same way — shoe moulding braces along the sides and back, MDF board sitting on top (glued and nailed into place), and then a 1″ x 2″ board glued and nailed into the front edge of the MDF shelf

music room built in bookcases - the basic build complete on the first bookcase

With the shelves, I had no problem adding all of the braces, and then putting the shelves into place, even though the side stiles were already attached. The only reason I had a problem getting the MDF top in place after attaching the braces is because the junction box got in the way.

So this process was different from the other bookcases I’ve made, and all because of that junction box in the top rail. But the good thing is that I can now use the measurements from this bookcase to make the other one. That means that I can make the other one in the correct order — attach the bookcase back, attach the sides, build the bottom 2 x 6 frame, mark and measure for shelf placement, attach the braces for the shelves and boockase top, add the MDF shelves and bookcase top, and THEN frame out the front starting with the side stiles and then the rails. It’s so much easier when you can build bookcases in the correct order.

I’ve got a long way to go on this project, and I’m still trying to figure out all of the minute details of how I’ll do the center piece that covers the hardware between the bookcases. I think I have it mostly figured out, but there are a couple of details that are confusing me. Hopefully I can get it all figured out and get the rest of it built today.



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  1. Amazing, you are so quick. I admire your work ethic and wonder what you will do when this enormous project is finished!

  2. You. are. amazing!

    I was just thinking about your bookshelves this morning and figured I had a few weeks to wait to see them till you got to that point, but there you go! Your energy always amazes me.

  3. When I saw your first post about building bookcases to creat pockets for your rolling doors, I thought “Genius!” And now I’ve just realized that the bookcases will also kind of mirror the “French doors” you replaced the pony walls with! And again I say, “Genius!”😊

    1. I just prefer lighting on the outside (like I did on the built-ins at the condo) so that pretty lighting can be used. Light on the inside (like I did on the glass-front cabinets in my kitchen) are just utilitarian and don’t add anything pretty to the design…except for actual light, which is good.

  4. This is going to be gorgeous. Can’t wait to see the final reveal. Though I keep seeing all this construction going on next to those lovely doors and thinking they’re going to get scratched up. Oh well, they can always be repainted.

  5. I so admire how you are able to make revisions (for example replacing the pony walls) as you go along!
    The new side light walls are amazing and look like they were meant to be there. They are just perfect!

    I have such a hard time doing anything because I am afraid to make a mistake and waste money!

    You are my renovation/decorating hero!

  6. I am sooooo stealing this idea!!!!!! I have an awkward bedroom doorway with one of those vile plastic accordion doors. perfect solution.

  7. I really like your idea. Have you decided on the sheen of black paint you will be using on the walls? Will it be the same as your doors? We’re leaning towards painting our interior doors black but wondering about the correct sheen.

    1. I think I’ve decided to do a two-sheen design (using that stencil I bought for the breakfast room a while back), so I’ll do the main part in flat, and the design in glossy. I paint all of my doors in satin finish. Most people paint doors and trim in semi-gloss, but I just really don’t like glossy paint, so I stick with satin for my doors.

      1. I’ve done all my trim and doors in satin finish for the same reason. I don’t like glossy paint. I’ve not had any problem with the finish standing up to wear and tear.

        In fact – I painted all my kitchen cabinetry with satin finish as well. No problems there either.

  8. Great idea just love it. I have noticed when an idea frustrated you there is always a great change from the original. My husband always know when a project is coming I must getting the look of concentration over and over until Ifigure it out. I have learned to think it over and over until it feels right. That saves him from having to redo my mistakes. Love your process it lets us know we are okay to change and go another way isn’t crazy.

  9. Love the look. What type of wood dis you use to build the bookcases? You’re inspiration get me to give it a try.😊

    1. I used 5/8″ MDF for the carcass and the shelves, and then framed out the front with solid wood lumber. I’m not sure what kind of wood it is, specifically, but I get it at Home Depot and it’s the nice stuff that’s cut really straight. But it’s something like pine or whitewood (whatever that is). It’s not the expensive stuff like oak.

  10. This is going to be great! I wasn’t sure until I saw it but I’m a believer, for sure. You can now call it your music room/library. As always, I can’t wait to see more…

  11. You are the expert when it comes to building your own bookcases and shelves, etc. I thought for sure they were ready-made shelves when I saw the first photo. It looks great!

  12. Lovin’ it! Makes me jealous that I don’t have a spot in my house to do something like it 🙂 A post showed up in my Pinterest feed this morning that shows a similar project, but using Ikea bookcases and making them look built in, and they bridged the french door with another shelf. Some of her inspiration photos in Part 1 are drool worthy, and you don’t see the finished view of hers until Part 4, but it does look nice. Something like it would be lovely for your space. Here’s the link: Whatever you choose to do, as always it will be the right thing for you and your space!

  13. Don’t know your plan, but have you thought of just an open shelf over the door hardware, connecting the two book cases?. I’ve got several high open ones planned, some will be cat viewing shelves I’m sure. They can’t stand to see an area up high that they can’t get to!!!

    Love watching your construction. You are very fast!

    1. That was my first thought, but there’s not even enough room for that. That shelf would be about eight inches high, which is only high enough to put a bunch of little tchotchkies. Darned 8-foot ceilings! 😀

  14. I went back and looked at the condo pics. I see now where you are going with the lighting. Can’t wait to see what you choose for this room!

  15. I love how you do not mess around! You make up your mind, and BAM you have the project half done. When I first started reading your post I worried about how this affects the ceiling project you already started, but I know you have something? planned. Can’t wait to see the finished project and hear about the ‘tray’ ceiling!

  16. Kristi, this is going to be gorgeous! Just a thought while it is still in building stage. Have you considered adding an outlet inside a shelf on either side in case you want a nightlight, radio, etc?

  17. Thanks so much, this post was full of helpful tips for my next big project — a library room. And I love the direction you are going in your room!

  18. No time to read all the posts and answers right now. I just thought they would be wider for some reason. I guess they can’t be because of the handles. I also thought that the bottom part was going to be closed in. I guess that was due to the picture you showed us. I know it will look great once you are done. I think you need to hire someone to do the scut work, so you can do the amazing fun stuff. Blessings

  19. I love the construction idea of the bookshelves creating a pocket for the doors but won’t the finished bookshelves compete too much with the doors? The doors were such a beautiful focal point. Once you fill the bookshelves, even if it’s done sparsely, the two elements will compete with each other. But then again, if the upper walls in the room are painted black, it would help draw the eye to the doors again. Is like you said before. ….we’re not in your head to visualize the finished product!

  20. Kristi,

    LOVE it!! Can’t wait to see this room painted black, and this was a genius idea to build your own “pocket” doors. I think it will draw your attention to the black doors you made too. Awesome!!

  21. Quick question….you painted the wall black (behind the bookcase) did you paint the back of the bookcase black as well? Or can you paint it later? I LOVE your work….look forward to reading you post!

    1. Ha! I knew some smart person would catch that. 😀 No, I didn’t. I meant to, but I got ahead of myself and completely forgot. I do think there’s enough room for me to get a paint roller back there, so I’ll try to paint it that way.

  22. You certainly move quickly when your plan comes together and it looks fantastic!!! Can’t believe how much you’ve achieved so quickly……well done Kristi, you’re such an inspiration!!!

  23. I guess I’m the only one that doesn’t get it. I’m anxious to see them finished because I can’t envision how it is going to look. You always do beautiful work, so I know it’s going to look great.