Weekend Projects: Build a Better Bookshelf

Metaphorically, books take up space in our hearts, but they also take up space literally. Build one of these DIY bookcases to give your favorite volumes a home within your home.

My family members are bookworms, their tastes covering the spectrum from science fiction novels to Italian fashion magazines. There’s only one problem: With great heaps of reading material comes a great need for storage.

Grandpa built a library. My aunt brought the library to the living room, flanking the fireplace with floor-to-ceiling shelving. And my mother may have recently changed her approach, but for many years she was very happy with a set of stand-alone DIY bookcases. (This one’s for you, Mom!)

Scroll down to see how a few others—that is, people beyond my immediate family—have managed to meet the book-storage challenge. Many DIY bookcases can be completed within a weekend; here are five creative examples.

 

1. FOSTER MOVEMENT

DIY Bookcases - Bending Shelves

Photo: pinterest.com

Some DIY bookcases are chunky and lame, but not this one. Here, simple cuts of rope and wood combine for bendable shelving, adaptable for walls of any size. Just add or remove blocks to alter the shelf length, and if you want, paint a few select blocks of the string in fun colors for a funky, modern look.

 

2. USE UNEXPECTED OBJECTS

DIY Bookcases - Crutches

Photo: smilingpockets.com

Although many DIY bookcases are super pedestrian-looking, others take your eyes by surprise. And really, you’ll be amazed at how quickly wooden crutches can be transformed into a functional, attractive shelving unit. No crutches lying around? Apply the same repurposing concept to a ladder. (No ladder? OK, skip this idea.)

 

3. BREAK ‘EM UP

DIY Bookcases - Staggered Unit

Photo: whollykao.com

Look what Esther at Wholly Kao did. By gluing together slivers of plywood, she created a remarkable DIY bookcase-cum-sculpture that securely holds heavy cookbooks while emphasizing the graphic interest of their spines.

 

4. MOVE ON UP

DIY Bookcases - Pipe Shelving

Photo: 9bytz.com

Inexpensive, commonly available, and aesthetically striking, pipe fittings are great for DIY bookcases, especially because they can fit in recesses and corners where traditional storage units would not. Create a twisting, turning design like this one to make your favorite literature a focal point of any room.

 

5. REFURBISH AN OLD BOOKSHELF

DIY Bookcases - Refurbish

Photo: kupps.malibulist.com

If your relationship with your solid wood bookshelf (or your laminate one) has gone a little cold, go the extra distance to show you’re committed. Sand the piece down, repair any damage, then apply a fresh coat of paint or a stain—do whatever it takes to bring back that special excitement you used to feel.