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Bark to Bookshelf

We knew at the first sight that this was going to be a wall for our books. The way the walls are positioned, it was as if the walls were asking us to put planks in between! Space saving, beautiful and efficient as it may be, it was a tough project seeing that all walls, the floor and the planks are crooked and far from being straight or level.

Mark and I both wanted to implement natural elements into our home. It wasn’t hard to agree on the concept of the project. Finding the wood however seemed to be a challenge. Eventually we found raw natural wood with still a bit of the bark attached that also came in the right length. The company was the only one we found and was located in the most northern part of the Netherlands. We ended up paying almost as much for the delivery as for the wood itself.

We drew a design that would fit perfectly in the space between the two walls. Including some bigger cut out spaces for special items. In this case my world cup from my martial arts career and another space for a, at that time yet unknown, piece of art and a lamp.

Our initial idea was to have floating shelves, but seeing that the planks weren’t thick enough to execute this plan we settled for mat black wall carriers. It also gives the wall a bit more contrast, so we believe it was for the better.

I have to be honest, when the wood arrived I was a little bit anxious. When we say that we ordered raw wood, I mean really raw! Carrying everything upstairs was already a fight against splinters. The wood was rough, dirty and curving in all directions.

Wood warps and therefor it needed to rest in order to acclimatize. We used supports to lay out the wood so it could dry and adjust in the next two days.

Unfortunatly our balcony was too small for the length of the planks, so we prepared ourselves to live in sawdust for the duration of the project. Luckily we created a deadline for ourselves by planning a yoga class in the living room in two weeks. Making sure that we put all the extra effort in making this project come true and minimizing procrastination while being surrounded by the unfinished project that would be taking up half the house. It worked.

To minimize the spreading of the sawdust through the whole house we created a working space that was sealed off with plastic and tape. Spreading out the plastic on the floor as well so we only had to remove it whenever it was time to clean up.

And so the sanding of the wood began, but not before all the planks were sawn in the right size to fit the design in the wall. We started working with 80p and worked our way down to sanding with 240p. The difference was astonishing. The wood completely changed and with the very visible reward of our work our motivation and work drive grew bigger. We worked night and day and had friends coming over to help us sand. The amount of sanding is something, at least I, had definitely underestimated. Yet again, so incredibly rewarding!

We had selected the planks upfront how they would be layered due to their shape. The website had mentioned a minimum and maximum dept for the planks, since it’s natural wood and has playful curves and shapes. We felt extra lucky receiving some planks that exceeded the maximum dept.

Were sanding was the most time consuming, placing the wall carriers became the most challenging part. Seriously, doing this is the ultimate relationship test. All I can say is that Mark and I did damn good as a team. It was us together against the walls, instead of the wall making us go against each other. As we tried to drill the screws in the wall, the wall would sometimes give in too much and we suddenly had a huge hole. At times we had places the wall carriers were perfectly level after measuring 10 times, but the moment we put the plank on top it was far, far, faaaaar beyond straight. By failing we learned how to succeed. Finding ways to deal with all the imperfections in basically everything. The solution was to let go of any measuring and tackle the project on pure sight.

Seeing the planks not yet secured, but up on the wall was a true moment of awe. Plus, we made it just in time for the yoga class! We finished cleaning just half an hour before the start of the class. That was a tight one, but we made it!

After the class we removed the planks again and treated them with linseed oil. One of my yoga students who is also an experienced wood worker gave me this tip, but I had never even dared to expect so much result by simply applying a layer of oil. The grain of the wood became more visible, giving it more character, but also the color become warmer and deeper, while leaving a subtle shine. Putting the rough untreated wood next to this end result blew my mind. We created this transformation!

The room feels more spacious and at the same time we’ve created more space for our books. Using the whole surface of the wall. It took us blood, sweat and tears, but we couldn’t be happier. It was a project with many lessons learned. Definitely super proud for a first timer!

* Final result photos coming soon!*


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