Country Living Series

Monday, January 11, 2021

First project for the new house

 We're settling into our new home.

It's a standard three-bedroom, two-bath manufactured home, and it has a 20x20 foot addition tacked onto the living room, which makes for a very large living room indeed.

One feature of this addition is a long wall, unbroken by doorways or windows.

From the moment I saw this wall, I coveted it for bookshelves. We have thousands of books currently boxed up and still in storage, and once we move them here, we'll need a place to put them. This wall otherwise represented a lot of unused space. Can't you just see yards of bookshelves here?

But we also have another problem: canning jars.

Some of you may remember the spot in our old home I called the Canning Closet, a made-over bathroom we used for storing home-canned goods.

One of the problems with our new home is it doesn't -- yet -- have a similarly dedicated spot. With hundreds of jars of canned food currently stacked willy-nilly in two bedrooms, finding a space to store them is essential.

 We thought about building a lean-to addition outside the kitchen window:

But this was a fairly costly and complicated endeavor. We would have to cut a doorway, build a foundation, insulate, heat, etc.

Then Don had a brainstorm: Why not combine the need to store canning jars with a space to display books?

So he looked anew at this vast expanse of wall, and embarked on his first project: building an inside pantry/canning closet.

Building a dedicated storage space indoors has a number of advantages. It's cheaper, for one. For another, we can forego insulation or the need to build a roof capable of shedding snow.

After careful measurements, he decided on a space with inside dimensions of 14 feet long and 5 feet wide. The outside wall of the pantry could then (woot!) be home to 14 feet of bookshelves along one dimension, and an additional 5 feet along the other dimension. Talk about killing two birds with one stone!

So he purchased some of the lumber he needed to begin the project: a stack of 2x4s:

...and some 1x12s for shelving.

He started by removing the sheet rock along the stretch of wall. This way he could access the studs behind and beef them up for strength.

Then he framed up the short wall.

Next he framed up the long wall. He built this one the floor...

...then we lifted it into place.

One thing he plans to do is beef up the floor; or, more specifically, the supports under the floor. It's no light matter (no pun intended) to put this much weight on a floor -- books and jars -- without making sure it won't put stress on the house. Don has ordered eight leveling jacks which he'll put under the house (four along each wall) to increase the load-bearing capacity along each 14-foot length of wall.

That's as far as he's gotten so far. I'll keep you posted on the progress. It's exciting to watch this take shape!

Besides, it will be nice to have the bedrooms available for visiting family and friends. No one can sleep among so many canning jars stacked willy-nilly.


  1. Another killer mast head photo. I haven't seen a ring neck pheasant for 40 years! They disappeared from Illinois farm land back in the late 1960's because of insecticides I think.

    1. What part of Illinois are you from? (Generally speaking.) I’m from the southernmost part.

    2. north central, about 20 miles south of Dixon.

    3. I see them almost everyday here in north central Illinois.

    4. I moved to Texas 40 years ago. I have not seen any down here. My father said that they were coming back in Illinois about early 1980's.

  2. Looks great! (He says, coveting more space for books....)

  3. Don and I must be cut from the same cloth. I instantly had the same idea lol. I suppose a lot comes from us both being woodworkers.The new house looks great. Regards Henry

  4. After living in a manufactured home my first thought was to reinforce the floor - should have know Don was on it. Building out that long wall with a 'canning room' is brilliant, plus the wall of books, can't get much better.

  5. Happy for y'all! Great solution and extra load support is a big deal to prevent future headaches and sagging floors! I hope your adventure continues with more thrills than chills! Warmest wishes.

  6. I love folks that think outside the box - what a great idea!

  7. Moving is so exciting - I bet it is going to look amazing once everything is done! :)
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

  8. Thanks so much for the update. I've been wondering what the 'first' project would be.

    How's Mr Darcy loving his new home?
    Cheers, SJ from Vancouver BC

  9. love it!

    kathy in MS

  10. That is a brilliant idea! You could even have bookshelves along the outside of the canning storage room. You are smart to reinforce the floors and studs.

  11. pheasant picture makes my mouth water !!! LOL We don't have them here in central southern Mich since the 70's I have heard due to different farming practices or/ introduction of coyotes...but now we have a multitude of turkeys everywhere ,that we never had back then .