A Little Bookcase Styl’in {& A Big Makeover}

How do you create a stylish bookcase that is equally functional? 
Then again, a better question is how much of a design dork would you think I was if I said my first attempted to “stylize” the bookcase was preeeety useless. *hangs head shamefully*
Is it just me that finds this task somewhat of a challenge? I had to sketch out a storage plan for my entire living room before I could properly build then style my two bookcases. 

Thankfully, plotting a plan did the job perfectly…I realized that two small bookcases just wouldn’t do the job, and that’s how this project went from a little bookcase styling to a big makeover project! 
Finally our twin bookcases can boast both fashion and function! I have to say, looking at these bookcases now it is hard to believe all that it took to get to this point (blood, sweat, tears from sawdust in my eye)…

The Life Cycle of a Bookcase And Some Scrap Wood
Ok, so this is more than just the story of styling a couple bookcases I found along the side of the road. What I initially thought was going to be one little paint project took quite a turn and became the mother lode of projects! These bookcases were in poor shape when I found them… there was water damage and torn faux wood paper covering (ew, who does that?).
No worries, after a lot of Kilz primer, many coats of paint, and two DIY custom built bases later…well, things were definitely looking up! 

Design Details
In case you were wondering what it took to style this bookcase, well a LOT of spray paint and many many small projects. No seriously, a lot of spray paint…I’m still feeling really fumed out in spite of my mask (hungry, weak, not as bright as I was last week). 

I have painted everything from needles for my pinboard (hey, it’s all in the details right?), to lamps, bottles, frames, boxes, and art. Here are some snapshots of all the before & afters:

NEEDLES | Why spend extra money on cute pins? A coat of spray paint does the job!
JARS | put pretty jars to good use, and add a little sparkle with a metallic spray paint. See how here.
PINBOARD | replace the glass with cork and fabric to make your own DIY pinboard. 
 ART | we replace our art, but why not spruce up an outdated matte as well? Isn’t it amazing what you can spray paint? 
LAMP & BINDERS | unwilling to spend $79+ on per art lamp, I bought a second-hand piano lamp for $15 that matched my existing piano lamp. I removed the base and wired it to act as a bookcase/art lamp, click here for the tutorial. While you’re looking, notice the chevron binders? Inserting wrapping paper into clear binder fronts adds a little style to these plain white binders. 
DIY WIRE BASKET | this one roll of hardware cloth equals four baskets, and money still in my pocket. I made this basket and sewed a faux leather handle in less than 30 minutes! See my tutorial here.
BOXES | a thin layer of metallic paint brings out the best wood grain qualities, and pretty hardware ups the ante on this box. The bigger box houses puzzles in individual cases, and the smaller box catches stray puzzle pieces until we discover which puzzle they belong with. Directly underneath in the cabinet base is a large pull out puzzle tray…now puzzles in progress can be put out of sight and reach until they are ready for completion! See more here.
ART & OFFICE | office products may be necessary, but why not also attractive? A little metallic spray paint took this stapler from drab to decor. I pick up on the metallic tones throughout the decor with a little DIY art…a popular but easy abstract!

Storage & Fantastic Function
Function is everything in my living room, so these bookcases needed to be more than just storage, I needed a work space as well. Finally there is a place for everything in my living room… This bookcase+hutch now stores 7 important binders, stacks of magazines, books, craft & office materials, stationery, 6 puzzles, 40 games, and fabric & wrapping paper nearby! Much more than it did as simply a mildewy bookcase. 


Why yes, I did say 40 games…thank you for asking. What do you mean you didn’t ask? *grin*
Well, even if you weren’t wondering what’s behind the closed doors beneath I’m going to tell you anyway. What can I say, we’re huge ginormous board game geeks! These aren’t just any games, they require strategy, they have lots of tiny pieces, and take hours to play. I shared a video tour of my game storage here, and how I organize a few of the games themselves here and here. Ok, that’s the end of my sidetrack for today… the other hobby, the dark side. *snicker*


Thanks for letting me share my DIY bookcases! I needed a space to store all my work space and living room knick knacks, and now they can be stored in style.
I’ll be revisiting some of the bigger projects and sharing all the how-to’s, so check back!

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2 Comments on A Little Bookcase Styl’in {& A Big Makeover}

  1. Barbara M
    March 13, 2014 at 4:50 pm (7 years ago)

    Ursula, this is a fantastic project. You have such style. I hope that you will have a post with more details on rehabbing the bookcase. I’m interested in whether the back panels inside are painted or papered. I love how you make something great with very little cost.

    • Ursula Carmona
      March 13, 2014 at 9:12 pm (7 years ago)

      Thank you! I will be sure to do a post with more details…but until then I did paint the back panels of my bookcase. 🙂
      Thanks so much for following along!


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