During the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge, my Boho Mod Glam Entryway encompassed just a mere 60-square feet. And hot diggity damn, did it produce one helluva of change. I owe much of that WAM, BAM, THANK YOU MA’AM kind of look and feel to this pretty (and easy!) DIY bookshelf I designed.
Today, fronds; I’mma teach you how to build a bookcase.
There’s a slew of reasons why wall bookshelves make such an impact. In this case, this funky alcove was simply wasted space. I capitalized on that general lack thereof, while also showcasing my high ceilings—one of this old girl’s greatest assets. Adding a small bookshelf to this space draws attention upward, which instantly makes this entryway feel bigger.
Win-win, mi amigos. 🎉
PRO TIP: Wall bookshelves are a great way to free up the need for bulky furniture in a small space. Mounting wall shelves provides spatial freedom to display those paperbacks and all that pretty tchotch. I utilized this very same concept in my moody hunter green home office.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
- Poplar wood boards (measure your space! I used:)
- One 7’x1’ board
- Two 6’x1’ board
- Interior Polyurethane, Satin or Matte
- Lint-free Rags
- Miter Saw
- Table Saw
- Circular Saw
- Sanding Block
- Measuring Tape
- Power Drill
- 7/64 Drill Bit
- Magnetic Drive Guide Bit
- Brass Trim Head Screws + Anchors
- Stud Finder
- Scrap Wood Planks (to pre-drill on top of)
PLAN YOUR BOOKSHELF DESIGN
Draw out your bookshelf design ideas on paper. Measure, mark out and record the location of each shelf and support base thoroughly (so, like, at least 5x). List out and acquire all necessary tools and supplies.
I chose poplar wood because I’m obsessed with its rich tones. Fortunately, poplar is also one of the fastest growing trees, which makes this specialty wood very affordable. My custom dining room table was built using poplar wood.
The total cost for this DIY shelving unit: $40 smackaroos.
CUT YOUR SHELVES
Make the longest cut first. My 7-foot poplar board need to be ripped ½-inch longways to fit snugly depthwise. Best to cut off the derriere of all five shelves at once, amiright?
Measure and mark the width of five shelves with an L-square. Cut with a circular saw. Double check the location of each shelf and mark each one numerically. I had to make an infinitesimal cut to one shelf for it to fit properly.
PRO TIP: Make a prototype! It’s always a good idea to test your design before you make any permanent cuts you cannot undo. Plus, old houses are never square.
Weird trim? Make a “notch.” There is a bulky piece of molding on the back right corner of the alcove. I made a 45-degree angle corner cut with my miter saw to accommodate the protrusion. Measure the depth and adjust the lateral angle to make the cut.
Unexpectedly, this notched corner will act as an excellent conduit for any electrical cords.
CUT THE SUPPORTS
I went with a basic fixed bracket shelf support system. This means I custom cut two individual wood supports for each shelf to rest on made from the same poplar wood. It’s simple and sleek all at the same time.
Double check the measurement and placement of your supports. Similarly to the shelves, measure and mark with an L-square. Cut with a miter saw. Again, old house are not square and my supports were differing lengths. I made sure to mark each support to keep track of placement.
SAND + SEAL
Give the shelves and wood supports a quick, once-over with a sanding block. The saw cuts often leave the wood edge slightly splintered. A quick sanding cleans that up right quick.
Use a lint-free cloth rag to apply a thin coat of satin or matte polyurethane. On scrap wood pieces, lay out the wood supports prior to application so they don’t stick to your work surface.
CARPENTER’S NOTE: The instructions suggest at least two coats of poly, and of course, a light sanding in-between coats, but I was pleased with one. I mainly intended to richen the natural tones of poplar. One coat did the trick.
INSTALL YOUR DIY BOOKSHELF
Decide and mark the location of your shelves. You know, for the umpteenth time. Look for studs with a stud finder. Mark your findings and try out a test screw in an inconspicuous spot. If you can utilize studs, ditch the anchors. I got lucky like that.
Pile a few pieces of scrap wood on top of one another to use as a makeshift worktable. Pre-drill the wood supports with a 7/64 drill bit. Partly screw in brass trim head screws. Level and secure one screw using a magnetic drive guide bit on your power drill. Level again, screw in the second. Screw, level, repeat.
Once all of your supports are secured, place your labeled poplar wall shelves accordingly. Then smile wide, because by George, you just built your very own wall shelves, babay!!!
Are you going to give these wall shelves a try?!
Do most of your best friends consist of a bag of power tools (like me)?
I BELIEVE IN YOU.