Grey bookshelf with doors

Grey bookshelf with doors DEFAULT

DIY Bookshelf Makeovers (20+ Easy and Beautiful Ways To Beautify A Bookcase)

Bookcases are one of the most functional pieces of furniture you can have in your home. These DIY bookshelf makeovers will help you make them look as good as they function.

20 easy DIY bookcase makeovers

Bookshelves are a very versatile and functional piece of furniture.

Whether you use them for books, to display collections and accessories or as extra storage, they provide a lot of space without taking up a lot of your room.

The only problem?

As furniture goes, they can be a little boring to look at.

And some of them are down right ugly! (Yes, old brown bookcase with the scratches all over&#;I&#;m talking about you).

Fortunately, there are a lot of easy DIY bookshelf makeovers you can do that will add some pizzazz to your bookcase without requiring a ton of work.

A Note On Pinning

Many of the projects in this list are not mine so I do not own the images. These pictures cannot be pinned from this page. If you want to pin them, please click the link below the image to go to the original website. 

Ideas for Painting Bookshelves

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Whether you want to upgrade a standalone bookcase or need to modernize built-in bookshelves, the easiest way to update it is with paint.

Here are a few different ideas for painting bookshelves that will help them look more interesting.

1 | Paint It A Pretty Color

Blue painted bookshelf with pottery on it by Amy from

This bookcase was definitely in the &#;ugly&#; category before it got makeover by Amy from Atta Girl Says.

Since I&#;m a color fanatic (and blue is my favorite), you know I&#;m totally in love with the gorgeous indigo color she chose.

Get all her project details HERE.

Living room bookshelves painted white by Cindy from

Cindy from DIY Beautify painted her shelves, too.

And while she kept them white, she did discover what kinds of paint you can use to keep the books from sticking to the shelves afterwards. (If you&#;ve ever tried to paint bookcases with latex paint, you might have run into this problem, too).

To find out her tips on the best paint to use, click HERE.

2 | Paint the Inside A Different Color

Bookcase with the outside painted gray and the inside painted blue

I like to paint the insides of my shelves a different color from the outside.

The contrast makes whatever you have on the shelves stand out a little more.

In this case, I painted the outside of the bookshelf a grey color that co-ordinates with the wall color which makes the blue on the inside of the bookshelf really stand out.

3 | Create a Rainbow

Bookcase with each shelf painted a different color to make a rainbow effect, via

If you want to take the paint treatment to another level, check out the bookshelf in this New York City apartment.

They have painted the inside of each shelf a different color in the rainbow, which definitely makes a statement in the room!

You could do something similar with different shades of the same color to create an ombre effect.

4 | Add Some Stripes

Small bookshelf painted with blue and white stripes by Christy from

Christy from updated this $15 yard sale bookcase with a light blue paint color and some stripes in the back.

Not only do the stripes add extra interest to the bookshelf, but they also help to make the bookcase look taller.

See the whole transformation HERE.

5 | Use A Paint Treatment

Bookshelf painted with a layered painting technique by Kandice from

To make the outsides of your shelving look more interesting, try a layered painting technique like the one Kandice from Just The Woods did on hers.

It takes a little time to get the right mix of colors, but it adds a depth to the finish that you can&#;t get with regular paint.

She also gives some great tips for painting laminate shelves, so you&#;ll definitely want to read her article HERE if that&#;s something you plan to do.

6 | White Wash It

Bookcase with white-washed paint treatment by Jen at

If you like the summery, beachy look, white-washing your bookshelves is a great way to create that vibe.

Jen from Girl In The Garage did that with this old bookcase and totally transformed it from dark and outdated to bright and airy.

See her white-washing tutorial HERE.

Cover The Back Of The Bookcase

These next few bookshelf makeovers all use something to cover the back of the bookcase.

This is a great way to decorate bookcases that don&#;t have many books on them since more of the back is visible.

7 | Line the Back in Fabric

Bookcase with the back covered in fabric

If you want more pattern on your bookshelves, try covering the back with fabric, like I did with this built-in bookcase in my living room.

I just cut pieces of fabric that were slightly larger than the shelf opening, folded over the edges and stapled it up there.

Then I painted the rest of the bookcase with coordinating colors.

This bookshelf makeover has the added advantage that you can hide cords behind the fabric.

Which is great if you have electronics like a TV or stereo equipment on the bookcase.

How To Hide The Cords

Wires across shelf - before

1. Cut a piece of fabric that is few inches wider and longer than the back of the shelf.

Put the wires behind the fabric

2. Turn the edges under and line it up with the edge of the shelf. Make sure any wires are pushed up behind the fabric.

Staple the fabric to the back of the shelf

3. Staple the edges in place.

Wires are hidden behind the fabric

And voila! You have a shelf with no wires showing.

8 | Hang Wallpaper

Bookshelf with wallpaper covering the back and glass shelves, by Martha O'Hara Interiors

Wallpaper is another great way to add some pattern to the back of your bookshelf.

A bold geometric pattern can really make your bookcase stand out.

Upcycled bookshelf with wallpaper and blue paint by Rachael at

This upcycled bookshelf with wallpaper by Rachael from This Is Our Bliss used to be a plain IKEA bookcase.

With its bright blue paint and bold wallpaper pattern, it&#;s not plain any more!

Get all the details for this project HERE.

9 | Put Up Wrapping Paper

Bookcase with the back covered in wrapping paper by Mary from

Mary from The Boondocks Blog did something similar except she covered the back of her bookcase with wrapping paper instead of wallpaper.

I think this is brilliant! Wrapping paper comes in so many colors and patterns. And it&#;s so inexpensive! You could put a new one up for every season if you wanted to.

Get the details of her project HERE.

Replace The Back of the Bookshelf

10 | Put Up Beadboard

Beadboard adds texture to the back of a bookshelf, via

To add some texture to your shelves, install beadboard behind them.

Painting it before you nail (or glue it) up there will make the installation job much easier.

11 | Add Reclaimed Wood

Small bookshelf with white-washed reclaimed wood as the back by Christy from

If you like a more rustic look and happen to have some reclaimed wood hanging around, you can use it as the back of your bookshelf, like Christy from Confessions of a Serial DIYer did with this one.

White-washing the wood gives it a beachy, summery look.

Find out more HERE.

12 | Attach Yardsticks

Bookshelf with yardsticks use as the back

For a totally unique way of replacing the back of a bookcase, repurpose some old yardsticks, like Jen did from Girl In The Garage.

Talk about an inexpensive and creative way to add some interest to your room!

Get all the details HERE.

Glam It Up

13 | Cover The Back In Mirrors

Glam bookcase with mirror back and silver shelves

If you want to add some sparkle and reflection to your bookshelf, try lining the back with mirror.

You can get it cut to size at a local glass and mirror company.

Then glue it up with mirror adhesive.

In this wall unit, my mother also covered the shelves with aluminum flashing which gives them a shiny finish and adds some more glamour. 

14 | Add Mirror Strips to the Front

Bookshelves with mirror strips added to the front

If you want a more subtle effect that still adds some interest to your shelves, glue strips of mirror to the front supports.

Unlike mirror backs, you can still see them if your shelves are full of books!

Close up of a bookshelf with mirror front

Again, a local glass and mirror company should be able to cut them to size for you.

Or order these acrylic mirror strips


Lancaster Dove Tail Grey Bookshelf

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If you’re running your own business or just working from home regularly, setting up an office can really help to keep you organised, active and professional. If you’ve got room, it’s always a good idea to keep your work life and your domestic life separate, and furniture has a role to play in that too.

Take your bookcase, for example. You might have a bookcase in the living room with all your novels, travel books and other entertaining reads on them, but where do you keep all your work-related books and magazines? If you’re serious about maintaining a good work-life balance, keeping all your work books in their own bookcase will be a real help. From an organisational point of view, it can really help, but also it can help psychologically – you’re more able to switch off when your two lives are separated.

At Dunelm, we have a superb collection of bookcases, from small desktop ones to full-size bookcases and corner units for those who need a lot of reading matter in their work lives. They’re all designed to be smart and accessible, and have shelves to accommodate the whole range of book sizes.

The style of the bookcase will be determined by the style of your office, so we stock the complete range, from strictly business to homely and warm. After all, not everyone has the luxury of dedicating a whole room to their office – many home-workers just work from a particular corner of the room or from the couch, so having a style of office furniture that’s consistent with the rest of the decor in the room is vital.

If you do have a dedicated office, the rules might be a little different, as you can choose a bookcase that’s a little more pared-down, perhaps a budget bookcase, as you’ll spend most of your time on the computer or paperwork, and are probably trying to keep costs down. That’s not everyone’s idea of an office, of course – if you want to push the boat out and have a really slick office with modern boutique styling, we’ve got plenty of gorgeous office bookcases to choose from.

If you’re running the type of business where you regularly have clients round to discuss projects, it really pays to show them that you’re dedicated to the job, not just running a sideline – and a bookcase stuffed with professional books and business literature really helps convince them that you mean business.

Custom Hidden Door/Bookcase (Secret Room) - Mustang Woodworking

Two-Toned Small Grey Bookshelf

Sometimes projects take a lot longer than I think. Like 3 months longer.
There is no before picture of this shelf. It was an antique shelf that was found at a garage sale. It has great character with all the curves and details.

The shelf frame, and the two shelves that go inside all got primed. Older stains can sometimes show through the paint, so it better to put in the work in the beginning then have to go back later. This started out as my mom&#;s project, but after priming it sat for over a month. That&#;s when it became my deal.

I sanded the shelf, making sure to get all of the brush marks out of the primer. After everything was smoothed out, it sat for another month. I painted the outside a light grey, and tried painting the inside a bright magenta, but even after four coats of paint you could still see through the color. Plus it was bright. Neon bright.

I used a dark grey for the inside and on the shelves, and left the rest of the shelves light grey. I have been waiting to wax this piece for a couple weeks, and after getting a brush to apply wax with (I talked about that here), I finally got this piece finished.

The brush was very helpful in getting into all of the corners, indents, and details. It would have been very difficult to wax with out the brush.
I know I only show one or no shelves in the bookshelf, but there are two. The shelves rest on pegs that can be moved depending on the height of the books or knick knack the are being stored. It&#;s cute just as a small shelf, but it would also make a great nightstand.





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Bookshelf doors grey with

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