Bookcase Makeover

A bookshelf is a great piece of furniture to update. With a little paint and some wallpaper, you can give it a whole new look for just a few dollars! More experienced do-it-yourselfers may also consider adding doors, feet, or casters to their old bookcase.

We have curated here a wide array of bookcases makeover ideas to get you started and tried to systematically provide you with before/after pictures. Also, make sure to check the links: most case studies are providing step-by-step directions and the materials used to reproduce the same look.

Here are our best 15 bookcase makeover technique ideas with over 25 examples.

1. Choose a bright color

One of the easiest ways to give your old and boring bookcase a brand new look is to paint it a bright color paint. Pick up your favorite color, grab your paintbrush and you’re good to go! Look how this old-fashioned bookcase went through a complete change thanks to this yellow paint.
Source: Rain on a Tin Roof (step by step)

2. Two-tone makeover

One of my favorite makeovers! It’s stylish and easy to do. All you have to do is pick up two colors, paint the outside of the bookcase using one color and paint the back wall with a different color. Look at the result!
Source: Life on a Virginia Street
And here is another small bookcase I painted myself before I started blogging (sorry no before nor step-by-step pictures). A combination of pink and white was perfect for my daughter’s former bedroom.

3. Adding Wallpaper

Wallpaper is an easy way to add delicate patterns to your bookcase without the need of being a respected artist. With “peel and stick wallpaper”, this kind of makeover has never been so quick and easy. You should check out this small bookcase makeover I found on Pinterest. Very inspirational!
Source: Pinterest – ATELIER D’éco SOLIDAIRE
I’m also a fan of this classic damask-style wallpaper in “cream on orange” chosen by Erin Spain to redo her old bookshelf.
Source: Erin Spain

4. Upgrade a basic bookcase with DIY crown molding

Adding molding to a simple bookshelf makes it look more stylish. Discover how to upgrade your old bookcase with stunning DIY crown molding.
Source: Just a Girl and Her Blog (step by step)
If you’re not convinced yet, check out this elegant black bookcase redo. Crown moldings give it a more expensive look!
Source: PneumaticAddict (step by step)

5. Add casters for more convenience

Caster wheels make furniture more stylish and functional. They add height and allow the furniture to move freely where it is needed at any time. A modern vibe was added to this basic curbside bookcase just by adding four casters.
Check out the full article on this curbside bookcase repurposed into a farmhouse shelf (step by step). Another great makeover is this cheap bookshelf makeover by Karen from Redouxinteriors. This basic MDF box became a lovely bookcase on wheels.
Source: Redouxinteriors

6. Transform an old hutch top into a bookshelf

Discover how we transformed this hutch top into a farmhouse-style bookshelf with this step-by-step tutorial!
Another great example of a bookshelf made from an old hutch top is this green-painted piece with wired doors. The green color adds so much character to this repurposed piece.  Check out the before and the step-by-step tutorial here.

7. Do you love stripes?

We all love stripes because they’re elegant and timeless. Painting stripes on the back wall joint is a great way to update your old bookshelf.
Source: Confessions of a Serial DIYer (step by step tutorial)

8. Even laminate bookcases can get a fresh new look

Another great makeover by Erin! This white laminate Ikea bookcase was completely transformed using high gloss latex paint and wallpaper.

9. Distress it for a vintage effect

Distressing is the art of making a new piece of furniture appear aged and older. Distressing the paint helps to highlight furniture details. Carvings and moldings are more noticeable when distressed. This small bookcase was ready for a new life painted in black and distressed.
Source: RemodelaCasa (step by step)
Do not hesitate to distress heavily your freshly repainted bookcase to give it a vintage and cozy look.
Source: The Painted Perch

10. Replace the original backing with wood

Most bookcases have plain plywood backing. You can easily replace the original backing with scrap wood. It adds so much character to a basic bookshelf.
Source: Confession of a serial Diyer (step by step)

11. Wrap it with stained wood

A very original idea from John & Sherry: They literally wrapped the outside of this popular Ikea bookcase with stained wood to add some contrast. Well done!
Source: Young House Love (step by step)

12. Add legs to make your bookcase taller

Not only legs are a great way to create additional height, but they will also add more character to regular bookcases. You can add wood-turned feet and trim for a classical look like Jenna did. You must check out this awesome weekend project.
Source: Jenna Sue Design Co. (step by step)
Vintage legs are also a great addition to this old and plain bookshelf!
Source: Crafts &Things

13. Adding a sliding door

Suzy gave this old cherry bookcase a farmhouse fab makeover by adding a DIY sliding door. She now has a place for display and a place dedicated to storage. All those ugly boxes and home office supplies happily go behind the door! Hard to believe this is the same bookshelf!
Source: Worthing Court

14. Transform it into a china cabinet

If you’re looking for a small china cabinet but can’t find one that fit your shoebox-sized living room, building a china cabinet with an old bookshelf may be a good option. Check out how this unfinished and boring pine wood bookshelf was dressed up to be used as a china cabinet:
Source: Crafty Nest (step by step instructions)

15. Stencil it

Stencils are great to create unique and original furniture. Don’t be afraid to stencil the back of the bookcase to upgrade it! I’m a huge fan of Melissa’s makeover and I’m pretty sure this stenciled bookcase is the new highlight of her kitchen!
Source: Polka Dot Chair (step by step)

More bookshelf makeover ideas:

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