DIY Bookcases For Dummies and the Greatest Hack Ever

I am not usually a crafty sort of girl mainly because I’m an impatient person who hates trying to somehow magically make more time appear in order to complete said crafty projects. If I had the resources to do so, I’d probably just buy everything fully made and be done with it. But, alas, sometimes there will be something I really want that I simply cannot afford. These are the times that I dust off my Pinterest app, turn on my creative brain juices, and scope out the digital buy, sell, and trade groups. Recently, I decided we needed more shelving and storage space, so I began scanning the sale groups. It didn’t take long for me to find these two beauties for just $5 each!




Okay, so maybe they weren’t all that gorgeous at first, but I saw massive potential, so I quickly grabbed them up before their original owner realized what treasures she had and raised the price! After a fleeting “Did I just waste $10 on two pieces of junk?” thought, I composed myself and began making plans to turn these piles of junk into works of art. Here’s what steps I took.

Sanding and Cleaning

The easiest way to sand these babies was to use an electric sander. There’s no way I was about to sand them both by hand. Who has time for that mess?! Luckily, a friend loaned us his electric sander and my husband offered to sand them for me and repair a couple minor flaws on the shelves as well. He got to play with man tools, and I got to avoid the most dreaded part of this project. I call that a win-win! Once they were sanded down, I dusted them off and cleaned them with a lemon essential oil based cleaner. Then, they were ready for color.


For this next step, I used spray paint primer and wasn’t really particular on the brand . . .  just chose the cheapest one I found.


Why spray paint primer you ask. Honestly, I just happened to read somewhere on Pinterest that spray paint primer was great to use on furniture. I know . . . I am such an expert on all things DIY (yes, that was sarcasm you detected). Moving on. . .


Choosing the right colors for these bookcases was more difficult than I thought it would be. I wanted one to be dark brown in order to match my living room furniture and the other to be white to match my bedroom decor. Who knew there could be so many shades of brown and white?! After much deliberation, I settled on deep earth brown and snowy mount white. I knew I wanted a semi-gloss paint but wasn’t sure what type of paint other than that, so I did what any other clueless crafter would do . . .  I asked the sales associate which paint customers usually bought when they painted furniture, and that’s what I used.



At first when painting the bookcases, I used a roller, but it seemed to layer on too thick, so I ended up using a brush instead. Two coats is all it took, and I was done.

Material and the Coolest Hack Ever

I really wanted to make these cases unique and ran across an awesome idea on Pinterest–adding material to the back in order to gain some extra color and pop. I found these gorgeous fabrics on sale at Hobby Lobby and was pumped to get them up!



Most people who have completed projects like this one used Mod Podge or something similar in order to adhere the fabric to the backing, but lucky for me, I have a friend who introduced me to the greatest hack EVER. Starch. Yes, plain ole starch. I bought a $.96 bottle of starch and sprayed the back of the bookcases (while the shelves were out) and stuck the material to the back. It stayed! I was and still am in awe. If I ever want to change out the material, I can simply pull it off with ease and without any sticky residue. One of the bookcases gave me a little trouble in the top two corners, so I used a staple gun to put one staple in each top corner. Other than that, they stuck perfectly. Here are my completed bookcases!




Even though it took some time, I am very pleased with the final products. I hope you are inspired by my rare crafting success (despite my lack of know how). Happy crafting, friends!

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