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Pirate Livingroom: Plank Shelves

Plank Shelves If you haven't already noticed, I'm a big fan of small details. I think these are the sorts of things that make a room look "right." They bring the theme together and, if you don't overdo it, I think they also make the room look more appealing. You may have already visited the page that discusses the small items like the art, wallpaper border and paint. Another page discusses the lamps. This page is for the bookshelf.

The bookshelf wasn't originally planned for the room. However, with a project like this, you have to invite serendipity. When you do this, the universe appears to bring things to you. In fact, I often find that if I look too hard for the "right" thing, I rarely find it. If I just sort of raise my consciousness and wait for it to appear, it eventually appears. It's less work and curiously stimulating.

The plank shelves came from Craig's List - a wonderful on-line garage sale site. There's one for most major metropolitan areas and I have had great luck with the Detroit area version. I had been scouting for cheap bookshelves to use in various rooms. (I have a lot of books. There are no less than five full-sized bookshelves in the library, a smaller one in the spare bedroom, book ends all over the house and two more full-sized back-up bookshelves in the basement.) So I kept a sharp eye out for them. They go fast in Detroit, so I know I'm not the only one. I spotted the shelf you see here and I decided it would fit in the living room. (I did this several times and learned that the more times you buy something thinking "it will fit" the less likely it is to actually fit.)

Plank Shelves

Once I had the shelf, I set about procuring odds and ends to put on the shelves - trying not to spend too much, but still keeping with my whole skeleton/pirates theme. The result was quite satisfying to me. Let's look at each shelf.

Top Shelf

Top Shelf with plants

The Top (or first) shelf, which is shown above, contains the plants I decided to put up there at the last minute. The plants responded to my daring move by starting to die because there was no light in this corner of the room. (Dratted efficient mica lamp shades - see more on that here. So I knew I had to do something to save them. I had been toying with creating some sort of plant light thing that blended into another room (the Key West themed dining room). Since I transported the plants intended for that room here, I transported the idea for the plant light as well. That is the honey-colored wood thing at the back of the shelf. You can find a full explanation of how it was built on the lighting and lamp page via the above link.

There are also little bamboo sprouts in there, next to the plants. These came from Ikea and are purported to be lucky. I have little faith in this, but I liked them, so I bought them and the little blue globe that is under lit using some oddly-named halogen lamp thing. Eventually, I intend to put my MPC Disney Pirate Model Diorama here.

Second Shelf

2nd from Top Shelf

The second shelf down is where the nick-knacks start showing up. The mica shade on the floor lamp is probably killing a lot of detail here, but that's what you get. The little candle holders were something found in a resale shop in Ann Arbor for a buck. The reminded me of the floor lamp.

There's another skull (in case you missed the skull reference in this room) on the shelves on the left side of the photo above. This one's a mug that my parents picked up on a trip to Austria. My mom thought I would like it (she was right). Opposite him on the right side of the shelf is the head of a crocodile on a board that is made up as a pen holder. The pen thing is probably a stretch, but the crocodile head reminded me of the Captain Hook thing, so I put him up there. (Yes, it is a real crocodile head. I got it on a business trip in southern Louisiana. I thought it was pretty neat at the time, but I could never figure out what to do with it. Now he (she?) has a home.

In the center is a dark brown chest. There is a story there... I actually picked up a golden-hued chest at a garage sale in Cadillac, Michigan when I was about 7 or 8. I probably paid a buck or two for it. (You can see it in the photo below.) I really liked it and it was actually in very good condition, but I did not care one way or another about it's condition and proceeded to use it as a sort of collection box for odds and ends on my bedroom dresser. When the idea for this room came up, it seemed like a good thing to include. Alas, it was in woeful condition due to my lack of care for it. So I looked to my favorite odd thing source: eBay.

Treasure Chests

You know what can happen in thirty-odd years? Prices can go up. Way up. I was never able to identify an manufacturer for these things (they're actually pretty cheaply made, I think), but the version with the skulls, crossed bones, ships and anchors on them go for about $30 - $60 bucks, depending on condition (as of this writing). I watched eBay for awhile until the one you see here came up for what looked like a decent price.

Third Shelf

Third Shelf with Books

The third shelf down -seen above- contains has still more nick-knacks. You can also see a view of the bottom of the wallpaper border for the room. The central feature is a weird sort of bookshelf thing I made for a creativity class. I was discussing the life of James Michener (which is quite fascinating, actually) and since he was a writer who traveled the globe, I thought this made a good talking piece. Plus I knew it would fit my theme when the class was over, so, router in hand, I designed it for the class.

Here, I have added some nicely bound books on piracy and the sea (on the left) and some cheaply bound, but far more interesting books specific to piracy (to the right). The globe is one of those cool, semi-precious jewel things which I got off eBay. In retrospect, I wish I had gotten the gold-colored metal one instead of the silver-colored metal, but you can't change old decisions, so I'll not worry about it further.

The skull is actually a bank that Toys R Us carried for a little while. I guess they didn't sell very well, because I bought it for $1 or $2 in the back of the store where they had stacks of them. I originally planned to use this as a book end, but since I only had one, I scrapped the idea. (Note: the skull is wearing a purple bandanna that was the symbol for a car-based scavenger hunt I was in. We were the purple gang, which isn't very piratey, but I thought it would be a goofy thing to tie on my ersatz pirate skull. The glasses...I have no clue why I put them on it.)

The little pirate statue on the left is something I found in an antique store in Port Huron. I wasn't looking for such a thing, but he just sort of captured my fancy and he was only $10, so I bought him. (I doubt he's actually an antique for that price, but who cares?)

Bottom Shelf

Storage Trunk on the Bottom

The fourth shelf down is actually missing. You can see the cross bars in the picture above. I had originally planned to get an old pirate-chest for the room. Of course, as cliché as those rounded top chests are, odds are that most pirates never had any such thing. In fact, they probably had regular square foot-locker type boxes with locks on them. So I decided that it would make far more sense to have a chest of drawers in that style that would allow me to store VHS Cassettes and CDs.

I found the chest you see above at Hobby Lobby for 1/2 off. It looked nice and pirate-like, so I returned home and measured the shelves to see if the chest would fit beneath them. I also took a video cassette and CD back to make sure the drawers were the right size. You'd have thought they designed this chest specifically for the purpose I had in mind. On top of the chest is a little storage box that I picked up God knows where in my travels. It seemed to fit, so I stuck it there.

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