Have you found yourself in possession of an ugly, cheap bookshelf that you don’t want to get rid of but also hate the look? You know, one of those flat-packed, particle board ones with a paper lining? Well, I have good news for you: refurbishing a bookshelf is easy, and you can definitely improve on it with a bit of effort.
I once “inherited” one of those, and it was ugly, peeling, and ripe for the garbage bin, but I thought I’d give it one last chance and see if it could be redeemed. I am happy to announce that yes, I was able to refurbish it, and then do it again a couple of years later. Not unlike that other furniture makeover I did.
The poor thing wasn’t meant to go through the hardships of moving, after all this is one of those super-cheap flat-packed wood shavings and paper pieces of furniture that start coming apart as soon as you finish assembling them.
2 refurbished bookcase ideas
What I used
- A piece of 3/4 inch plywood (size will depend on the width and depth of your bookcase.
- 4 pieces of 2″ x 2″ x 5″ pine cut for the legs
- Wood glue
- 16 1-inch wood screws
- 1 inch nails
- Wood filler
- Foam roller
Chalk paint (gray or white)
- Soft 2″ paint brush
- Spray adhesive
- Hardcoat Mod Podge
- Felt pads (chair gliders)
- Fabric that goes with the paint color (optional)
Disassemble, glue and reassemble
The first thing I did was completely disassemble the bookcase, which was easy because each side was held by 4 screws. I then glued every piece as I put them back together. I pre-drilled holes to add new screws, and reattached the backboard, this time adding a lot more nails and making it completely square. So long wobbliness!
Make a base with legs
I made a base to raise the bookcase off the floor (for easy cleaning and moving, and because it looks better) by glueing the legs to the piece of plywood. I then screwed the legs to the plywood for even extra strength.
Joining the bookcase and base
Then I applied a good deal of glue to the top of the base and mounted the bookcase on it. I pre-drilled some holes, and screwed from underneath to permanently attach the two parts.
Once joined and the glue dried, I then filled in the holes and gaps with wood filler and gave it a good sanding. I then used fine sandpaper (250) to sand the paper that covers the bookcase so the primer and paint have something to grab to.
Then I applied a coat of primer with the foam roller. I skipped the second coat of primer because I expected it to grab onto the sanded surface, and mostly because I am lazy. You may want to do a second coat if you want to be extra cautious.
I also attached gliders to the legs to protect the hardwood floor.
Doesn’t that look a lot better? I love the geometrical patterns and the colors. And then…
So, we moved again, and I needed a different look for this bookcase to fit in my new room, it now now keeps some favorite books and memorabilia. This is how I did it:
Repainting the bookshelf
I ripped off the “Mod Podged” fabric, then gave it a light sanding to prepare it for paint.
Paint with chalk paint
Since the base color was white, it wasn’t necessary (in my opinion) to cover it with primer. If the base color had been darker than the top coat I would have. I use gray chalk paint, and gave it two coats.
Making the top
For the top I used a piece of pine I got precut from the hardware store, which I sanded, and stained. I screwed it with for screws from underneath.
So now you can see, two ways to make that really ugly, cheap-looking bookcase into something that can fit your decor without breaking the bank. What do you think?
Morehand painted bookcase ideas
Looking for more ideas, check these great bookcase makeovers I’ve found:
Angela has taken a similar bookcase (this time a white bookshelf) and turned into a beautiful piece by adding trim, legs and a top. That’s a way to make a cheap bookshelf look expensive. It doesn’t even look like the same one!
Paint covers a lot of sins, and in this case, a soft powder blue paint with white stripes in the back make this pieces way cuter than the beat up original bookcase. Way to go, Christy!
And finally, some paint, and contact paper breathed some fresh life into these uninspired bookshelves. So much better!