DJ Newman Joinery successfully installs huge suspended bookcase in London flat.

An Update

15th November 2017

Further to the posting below, here is a photo of the completed bookcase after the lighting has been connected:



Photo of completed bookcase


Following was posted on 1st November 2017


sketch of bookcase desgn

The request from our London client for a bespoke bookcase was far from simple.  She wanted it to fit from the floor – but to appear to be floating above it – up to the ceiling, a height of some 4.2 metres (14 feet!) to cover a wall in her prestigious warehouse-style apartment.  Also, she wanted staggered shelving fitted with both LED strip lights and 13-amp sockets, with the bookcase painted in Farrow & Ball black and to be accessed by a bespoke ladder on a rail.

The Challenges

The unit had to be transported to London and manoeuvred into the apartment so it had to be made in sections.  To cater for the staggered shelving, each section had to follow the contours and had to interlock seamlessly.  Further, the units had to fit in the van.  But not only the van.  The flat is on the third floor of a modern warehouse-style development so each unit had to fit in the lift and around the balcony accessing the front door and then through the apartment itself.

The bookcase had to be strong as it needed to support an adult on a ladder.  But strength and weight are directly correlated so great thought had to be given as to how to secure the unit to the wall so that it appears suspended as well as how to lift each piece into place to assemble it.

The ladder itself needed to be strong enough to take the weight but light enough to be easily slid along the rail; and the rail itself needed to be strong enough to take the weight of an adult with a design that would spread the load across the bookcase.

The Solutions

Photo of finished bookcaseArmando and Dave kicked around a number of ideas.  The unit was to be made of MDF in four sections, each section optimised to fit in the van and the lift and to be handled by two (strong!) men. A plywood mounting board was made onto which each unit was to be fixed, the units having a rebated back to conceal this mounting board which was also channelled to allow for the electrical wiring.  The ladder was to be made of ash, a both light and strong timber that was to be fixed to a specially-designed stainless steel rail.

The DJ Newman team rose to the challenge.  The making of the bookcase required great precision to ensure that everything fitted together and the rebating and channelling for the electrical wiring was in the right place.  The whole unit was pre-assembled on the floor to be checked before being disassembled and sent to the spray booth to receive a primer/undercoat followed by three coats of top finish.  Meanwhile the bespoke ash ladder was made and finished in a black stain in order to showcase its beautiful grain.  The brushed stainless-steel rail and fittings was made to specification by Kestrel Specialist Handrail Systems Ltd of St. Austell.  Everything was carefully bubble-wrapped and loaded into the van together with twin scaffold-towers for the trip to London.

The Fitting

DJ Newman’s precision paid off; the units fitted into the van and the lift with less than 20 mm to spare.  Aided by Becky’s husband, Jack, and their friend Elliot everything was man-handled into the apartment ready for installation the next day when Dave and Peter were to arrive from Cornwall after a very early departure.  The scaffolding was erected and the plywood mounting board was fixed in place, screwed to the studding and into the concrete.  The wiring was threaded through the channels with the ends exposed for threading through the back of the bookcase.  The first unit was positioned to the mounting board with only a 2-millimetre clearance and screwed into place.  Then each unit was moved into place by lifting it in stages up the scaffolding towers.  They all fitted perfectly.  Finally the rail was affixed and the ladder suspended.  In just a few hours, the job was complete.  A tidy-up and precision touch-up with the spray gun to mask the plugs inserted to conceal any fixing screws was all that was required, leaving the rest to Tony Cristofoli, the electrician, to connect the lighting and power sockets.  Our client was delighted!  The van was reloaded with the scaffolding and tools and left for the return trip to Cornwall.

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