RT Cunningham


Shelf Partition Instead of Wall - An Interior Design Idea

shelf partition While I was searching the web to confirm the name of a particular shelf partition built-in at my parents’ home, I selected a photograph to share. Both of my parents are deceased, but my youngest sister still lives there with her children.

The page with 20 great ideas for partition with shelves has a photo of a shelf partition similar to the one I vividly remember. I lived there until the age of 13 and then later for about a year before joining the military.

Our shelf partition didn’t have as many vertical slats and the “doorway” was centered and narrower.

Is the Shelf Partition an Old Design?

It’s either an old design or my uncle was a visionary when he built it. When I was young, I asked my mother what the shelf partition was called and she told me it was a “whatnot shelf”. Believe it or not, “whatnot” is a real word. I looked it up after I noticed my older son, Joe, using it often enough to be annoying.

I don’t think my mother knew what it was called other than just a shelf. Thinking about it today, I thought of it as a shelf partition before confirming it.

My uncle built the front part of the house years before building the back part. Originally, it was a three-bedroom home. Another small room was the kitchen, complete with a picture window. When he added on the back part, it became a four-bedroom home, with an open den behind one bedroom and an open kitchen behind the original kitchen. The picture window was replaced by adobe bricks, which is what the front outer walls were made of.

The original rear wall was removed when the back part was added. He built a shelf partition to separate the new living room from the new dining area. It looked a lot like a bookshelf, open on both sides.

My uncle sold the house to my parents when I was three and then moved his family to Utah.

I have a Partition but not a Shelf Partition

When my house here in Olongapo was being built, the contractor asked me if I wanted a partition and I said yes. I thought about a shelf partition, but it wouldn’t work well with the downstairs layout.

My partition is just a gypsum board (drywall) partition. It’s five feet tall and I never measured the width. A wall unit fits snugly against it and that’s where my 42-inch TV sits. The wall unit has a compartment on the left of the TV stand and compartment on the right of it. Each compartment is about a foot wide. Without measuring, I can safely assume it’s at least six-feet. The partition has to be about 10 feet wide (they measure in centimeters here, not feet).

I didn’t make a mistake. A shelf partition would have been a bad idea, especially if it was made out of wood. Because of a certain type of ant and termites, I don’t want anything built out of wood that can’t be easily replaced.

Photo Attribution: Architecture Art Design

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By RT Cunningham
April 3, 2017
House and Home

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