Looking for new ways of improving your home and making it more practical and better equipped to suit your needs? How about building a DIY bookshelf or two and adding more storage to the rooms that need it?
Bookshelves can take an infinity of different forms and can suit many purposes. They can hold a lot more than just books and they can be integrated into units or can be displayed in all sorts of interesting manners.
The whole point of a DIY bookshelf is to design it exactly the way you want it so let’s have a look at a few options which might inspire you.
How Do You Make A Bookshelf?
First, you’ll need to gather some tools and supplies for your DIY bookshelf.
- Wood stain or paint
- Wood glue
- Drill and screws
- Circular or table saw
- Tape measure
Once you’ve gathered all your tools and supplies, you’re ready to construct.
- First, measure and cut all the lumber to the appropriate lengths.
- Next, apply wood stain or paint all the pieces and let them dry for 8 to 12 hours.
- Then, assemble the frame of the bookshelf: top, bottom and sides.
- Use wood glue to attach the shelves. For more shelving support, you can add screws or pocket plugs.
- Then, add the back panel and any face framing, if you want.
The last step is to add your books and any decorations to your new DIY bookshelf.
How Thick Should The Wood Be for Shelves?
How thick the wood should be for your DIY bookshelf depends on the style and design of the shelf. And how much weight the shelf will hold.
For a more bulky and thick look, your shelves should be anywhere from 1 ¼ inch to 2 inches thick. These shelves will need the proper support but will also handle more weight.
For thinner shelves, they should be less than 1 inch thick. These shelves work best for floating shelves and regular to small sized bookshelves.
How to Make a DIY Bookshelf Attractive
Incorporating some decorations and style into your bookshelf will help make your bookshelf more visually appealing. And there are several DIY bookshelf ideas to style your shelf.
- Use horizontal and vertical stacking for your books. Alternating the stacking style can look nice and might even save you some space.
- Place a bigger decor piece next to a horizontal stack of books, like a globe, for an even more dramatic effect.
- Add color to your bookshelf by either organizing your books by color, purchasing colored book covers, or painting the space around your bookshelves.
- Use bookends to style your vertically stacked books. You can find bookends in all shapes, sizes and styles to match the theme of the room.
How Should Books Be Placed On The Shelf?
For a tidy look, it’s best to place your books upright, not leaning, up against other books or a bookend. Storing your books upright preserves the book’s spine, pages and overall condition.
What Can I Use Instead Of A Bookshelf?
If you’re feeling creative and want to opt-out of a bookshelf and use something different, here are some inspirational ideas to consider.
- Store books on a windowsill.
- Place them in a hutch or buffet.
- Utilize a mantel.
- Turn your unused fireplace into a book display.
- Put books underneath a bench.
- Display them on a plant stand or nightstand.
As you can see, there are several alternative ways to store and display your books. If you have empty space, maybe it’s a good place to put some books.
DIY Bookshelf Ideas to Transform Your Home Storage Space
1. A Complex Storage Unit or Media Unit
A combination of shelves can possibly function as a complex storage unit or even as a media unit for the living room. It’s a nice and affordable option that simplifies the interior decor and is especially practical in small rooms where there’s not enough space for a large console or wall unit.
If you like this design, check out almostmakesperfect for instructions on how to build your own version.
2. An Accent Table with Book Storage
This is more than just a simple DIY bookshelf. It’s a compact and very practical accent table made out of a discarded cable reel. It’s the perfect accessory for a cozy reading nook and it even rotates so you can easily grab the book you’re looking for. You can install casters on the bottom so you can also easily move it around.
3. An Upside Down DIY Bookshelf
It’s usually the books that stand on the shelf, not the other way around so this upside down shelf is a pretty cool and unusual accent piece. It’s not magic that keeps the books attached to the underside of the shelf but elastic loops stapled to the shelf and precisely measured for each individual book.
4. A Comfortable Reading Bench with Storage
Sometimes a bookcase can be more than that and all it takes is a little bit of creativity and some spare time. You can turn a simple bookcase into a comfortable bench with storage underneath. It’s a great combo, especially for reading nooks. You can place the bench in front of a window or in a corner and you can add pillows for an even cozier look.
5. An Expanding DIY Bookshelf
A bookcase which expands and gets bigger as your book collection grows…that’s not as unusual or difficult to design as it may seem. The secret of this stylish bookcase, for example, is that it’s made out of individual wooden crates which means you can always add more if you need more storage space.
6. Wooden Crate Side Table with Book Storage
Speaking of wooden crates and DIY bookshelf ideas, check out this cute side table which you can build out of a single crate. Take a piece of wood and make a divider at the center, install casters and stain the wood. You can then add it to your living room, by the sofa or next to a comfortable armchair. This wooden crate side table is one of the easiest and most inspiring projects on our list.
7. Plywood DIY Bookshelf
Of course, not every DIY bookshelf must double also double as something else. Sometimes a single function is enough. Of course, shelves usually come in pairs or larger groups so it’s more accurate to talk about bookcases rather than bookshelves. In any case, check out this simple unit built out of a single sheet of plywood. You can find out everything about it on instructables.
8. Stylish Black DIY Bookshelf
Another stylish DIY bookcase design comes from ohohdeco. It combines black shelves and light, natural wood partitions, featuring compartments of various different dimensions. You can add as many layers of shelves you want to. We really like this low, console-like structure.
9. Industrial Bookcase
Give your DIY bookcase a mid-century modern, industrial vibe by incorporating metal pipes into its design. The pipes can serve a practical role if they’re a part of the bookshelf structure but they also play a decorative role. Check out rogueengineer for some great plans and instructions on how to build this industrial bookcase from scratch.
10. Rustic DIY Bookshelves
Perhaps you’d like to add a rustic vibe to your home’s decor and you’d like to do it with DIY bookshelves. One idea can be to build a simple and open bookcase similar to the one featured on ana-white. It’s versatile enough to look great and to be useful in spaces like the living room, the dining area, even the kitchen, the bedroom or a hallway.
11. A Ladder Bookcase
Speaking of rustic bookshelf ideas, check out this ladder bookcase that we found on shanty-2-chic. It’s a very charming piece with a lot of character and a simple, pure and nostalgic design. You can fill the shelves with books (obviously) but also with potted plants to create a tiered indoor garden. Also, you could paint or stain the wood but then this wouldn’t look the same.
12. Pyramid-Shaped Ladder Bookcase
If the idea is to build a ladder bookcase, then you might as well use an actual ladder in your design. You can just add a few wooden plank shelves which can be fully supported by the double ladder. The shelves could get shorter towards the top if you want the bookcase to have a pyramid-shaped design. Anyway, check out casahaus for more inspiration.
13. Individual DIY Bookshelves for Kids
A lot of the ideas we showed you so far had to do with bookcases and not so much with individual DIY bookshelves. So, let’s have a quick look at the nusery bookshelves project featured on extraordinareality. These little wall-mounted bookshelves are perfect for children’s books. They’re small, cute and colorful and you can make as many as you want.
14. Repurpose an Existing Bookcase and Add a Bench
Earlier we mentioned that you can transform a simple bookcase into a comfortable bench with storage under it and at that moment the idea was to repurpose an existing bookcase unit. But what if you don’t have one? The natural solution would be to build one and you can follow the tutorial featured on instructables to make sure you’re not missing anything.
15. DIY Hanging Rope Shelving
In addition to all sorts of cool ways to mix and match shelves of different shapes and sizes, another area where you can be creative has to do with mounting system and hardware. A cool idea is to build hanging shelves and to use rope and metal anchors to put them whenever you want, such as by a window, in a corner, above a table or wherever there’s some free space. You can hang them from the wall or from the ceiling. You can find more details on lemonthistle.
16. Slender Spine DIY Bookshelf
One of the greatest things about a bookshelf besides the fact that it adds more storage to a space is the fact that it doesn’t take up a lot of room and it doesn’t make it seem small or cluttered. This is true for a lot of different DIY bookshelf designs, including this one from shadesofblueinteriors. It’s a slender spine bookshelf which can fit in tight nooks and corners.
17. DIY Skateboard Shelf
How cool is this shelf? Yes, that’s right, this is a bookshelf made out of a repurposed skateboard. You can make one for your own home if you just remove the wheels and you drill four holes in the skateboard so you can hang it with rope. This is a great way to upcycle an old skateboard and to give it a second chance. It’s also a great way to decorate your home with meaningful pieces. You can find instructions for this project on babble.
18. Industrial Piping Shelves
When we mentioned industrial shelves we talked about how pipes can be used to build a frame for a shelving unit. Now you can see exactly how that would look like. On tarynwhiteaker you can find a detailed tutorial explaining how you can make industrial shelves out of metal pipes and fittings and wood boards.
19. Tree Bookshelves
Tree bookshelves are pretty popular and not exactly difficult to build which means you can even do it yourself. It’s one of the most detailed DIY bookshelf projects on our list so be sure to follow the instructions and to always measure twice before making any cuts. You can find all the details on instructables.
20. Mid-Century Modern DIY Bookshelf Table
This mid-century modern DIY bookshelf table is a perfect piece for the living room. You can keep it next to the sofa and fill it with all your favorite books so you can always have them close at hand when you want to relax.
The table has two compartments and an open section on which you can display decorations or use as a surface for your phone and other personal belongings. You can find out more about this project and the design of the side table on jenwoodhouse.
21. Custom Wooden Crate Bookshelves
As you already know from some of the previously mentioned projects, wooden crates can be used to make custom and modular bookshelves. First things first, go ahead and paint the crates. This will give your bookcase a more uniform look and will allow it to more easily blend in with the rest of your furniture and décor. You can find additional details on creatingreallyawesomefunthings if you’re interested.
22. A Bedroom Custom Bookcase
A custom bookcase would be a really cool addition to a bedroom, especially if you occasionally enjoy reading a few pages from your favorite book before going to sleep. To save space and keep the books close-by, you can have the bookshelves built into your headboard. The inspiration source for this idea comes from i.pinimg.
23. DIY Bookshelves for a Small Home
There’s always space for bookshelves even in a small home. The fact that they come in lots and lots of different shapes and sizes is of great help because you get pieces that are able to fit in tall and narrow spaces and nook or in those awkward areas between two windows.
If you need something custom-made, building the bookshelves yourself wouldn’t be that difficult. Check out this lovely home featured on designsponge for inspiration.
24. Old TV Bookshelf
Some designs on this list are quite…unconventional. This is one of them: an old TV that’s been turned into a bookshelf. It’s not the most space-efficient design but it’s one of the absolute most interesting ones. Check out diygadgets if you want to find out more about it.
25. DIY Industrial Record Cabinet
Here’s a custom bookshelf that’s super easy to build and that lets you store more than just books. This also doubles as a record cabinet which is cool and useful if you happen to have a collection.
The design, as you can see, has a heavy industrial vibe and is meant to be practical more than anything else, hence the caster wheels installed on the bottom. There’s a detailed description of the project on abeautifulmess in case you’re interested.
26. Vintage DIY Bookshelf
Speaking of caster wheels, they’re very practical and you can install them on just about any piece of furniture if you want to able to easily move it around. It would be great to get the kind that have a locking mechanism to prevent your bookshelves and other pieces from being pushed around unintentionally.
In any case, what we’re really interested in is this lovely vintage bookshelf that was featured on farmhouse-inspired look that we immediately fell in love with.
27. Library Cart
Another really charming piece is this library cart featured on plasteranddisaster. It’s small but it has a ton of character and lots of potential. It didn’t always look that great but, after a little bit of working restoring it, it looks absolutely lovely and the fact that you can take it and push it somewhere else at any time is very handy.
28. Modern Wall DIY Bookshelf
If you’re looking for a simple bookshelf design that will suit a modern or a contemporary space or take takes up as little space as possible, consider something like this. This is a spine bookshelf and it’s really easy to build plus it’s very customizable. All the details can be found on shadesofblueinteriors.
29. DIY Studio Triangle Bookshelves
Bookshelves are extremely versatile and they’re actually rarely ever used for storing books. Most of the time they serve a double purpose, being both functional and decorative. Designs such as this one are perfect for that.
These triangle shelves give you plenty of space to store and display items on and they even look interesting when they’re empty. Check out ispydiy for additional details about this design.
30. Nursery Bookshelves
This is usually the style of bookshelves we often seen in nursery rooms and kids’ bedrooms. They can hold a lot of books and they display them in a nice and interesting way. They also prevent the books from falling off the edges and they’re quite simple to build as well. There’s a tutorial on refreshliving which tells you all about it.
31. Individual DIY Bookshelf Mounted on the Wall
There’s also the option to have individual shelves mounted on the wall and to have as many as you think would fit and look good, depending on the space, the surrounding décor and your needs. Each one of these shelves featured on athomewiththebarkers was made using a wooden board and two metal brackets.
32. DIY Bookshelf with Angled Shelves
A bookshelf doesn’t necessarily have to be straight or level in order to be useful and practical. A lot of modern designs feature angled shelves which look really cool in addition to also being functional. You can use that idea when building your own custom bookshelves. In fact, there’s a really nice on brepurposed.porch that we think you’re going to like.
33. DIY Rain Gutter Bookshelves
Wood is the most common material when it comes to bookshelves and most furniture in general but, as you know, there are lots of other options to choose from and some are quite unusual. These shelves for example were made out of repurposed rain gutters. They look lovely and they’re really easy to make plus they’re also super cheap. All the details can be found on repurposeandupcycle.
34. Puzzle-Inspired Bookcase
If you don’t want to make a typical bookcase, you can always have fun coming up with a unique, custom design. How about mixing in various modules of different shapes and sizes and creating a sort of puzzle-inspired bookcase? You can even combine two or more types of finishes or different colors to diversify the design even more. This piece featured on instructables is a really great place to start.
35. 7-Foot Tall DIY Bookshelves
If you are looking for a large storage solution for your home to store your book collection, you’ll love these 7-foot tall bookshelves from Infarrantly Creative. They would look fantastic in your living room or study and could also be filled with photos of your family or ornaments. They can be stained or painted to fit your needs and are ideal for any book lover’s home.
36. Cubby DIY Bookshelf for Kids
Ana White shows us how to create this bookshelf project that would be ideal for adding to a children’s bedroom or even your lounge. You can fully customize the color of this project, and you can also paint it a bright and bold color to spruce up a bedroom. It’s perfect for storing plenty of your kids’ toys and books, and you’ll find it’s a spacious option that’s easy to create at home.
37. Contemporary DIY Bookshelf
This contemporary bookcase is ideal for any modern home and also doubles up as a fantastic storage solution for family photos or trinkets. Popular Woodworking shares this DIY project which offers clean lines and a sturdy bookcase for your home.
38. Built-In Bookcase
This Old House offers us this large bookcase project that won’t take up extra space in your home as it’s built to fit an empty space you may have. It’s big enough to still hold your whole book collection without sticking out into your room. It’s great for anyone with kids or dogs, as there’s less chance of it toppling over.
39. Classic DIY Bookshelf
For a classic bookcase that is perfect for adding to a study or bedroom, consider making this DIY bookcase from Family Handyman. It’s one of the easiest projects on our list today and creates a classic craftsman-style bookcase.
40. Simple Barrister Bookcases
Popular Woodworking shows us how to make this simple barrister bookcase plan, which will add plenty of character to your lounge or dining room. Each shelf is the ideal size for holding your book collection or any precious items you may want to have on display in your home. It’s a very sturdy shelf, so it can hold the thickest books with no issue.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
Is it cheaper to build your own bookshelf?
It is cheaper to build your own bookshelf rather than buying or having a carpenter build one for you. However, while you may save a lot of money, making your own bookshelf can take a lot of time when you include cutting and painting the wood. Then assemble all the pieces.
How easy is it to make a bookshelf at home?
If you have carpentry knowledge and the tools for woodworking at home, then you might say making a bookshelf is easy to make at home. However, if you lack the proper knowledge and tools, making a bookshelf at home might be challenging.
Should books be pushed to the back of a bookcase?
Actually, it’s the opposite. You should bring your books to the front of the shelf to add dimension and create an apparent look between the books and decorations on the shelf.
How do you make a cheap bookcase sturdy?
You can make a flimsy bookcase more sturdy by adding edging, wood cleats, dado panels, or use wood glue on every shelf and connection point.
DIY Bookshelf: Conclusion
If you have a large book collection, you’ll know how difficult it can be to find a suitable bookshelf to hold your whole collection. All of these DIY bookshelf projects are easy to make and will make a lovely addition to your home decor.
As with any project, you can customize your new bookshelf to fit your needs and to hold all of your books. A coat of paint can completely transform a bookshelf and make it the perfect color to add to any room in your home.