Bookshelf Before and After (DIY)

Thanks to Grace at DesignSponge for sharing my bookshelf Before and After. If you missed it, check it out on DesignSponge here, as well as browse one of my favorite blogs!!

I created this bookshelf a few months ago for the Walden Artisan Market to use as display to sell my other vintage goods and art prints. Since then, I've had so many requests for custom built creations that I decided I would share the instructions, so that others can give it a try. Sometimes, you just need to see how easy it is to DIY to realize you too can do it. I love mid-centruy modern style furniture, but it can be hard to find...so why not create your own?!

I like to reuse old furniture because I like to see it given a new life and it's eco-friendlier (and cheaper!) than it being tossed in a landfill....but you could purchase new legs for this project here if you can't find an old footstool. Also, I used a measuring stick as decoration on the front only becuase I love them and was happy to find a use for it..but you could leave it plain or use something else such as wood blocks, buttons, anything!


- Bookshelf
- vintage footstool (for stealing the legs and angeled brackets)
- hardboard for backside
- measuring stick
- primer
- tape
- paint for bookshelf
- paint (if different color desired for backer board)
- tinted glaze (for creating woodgrain effect
- clear sealant


- hammer
- finishing nails
- drill
- screws
- handsaw
- paintbrush
- woodgraining tool


1. Begin by measuring the backside of your bookcase so that you can get a piece of hardboard to fit. (*Note: HomeDepot or Lowe's will cut it to size for you!)

2. Clean the bookcase of any dirt or debris and then prime the entire thing, inside and out.

3. Remove the legs and brackets from the footstool.

4. Clean and prime the legs. (If the legs have metal caps on the bottom, you'll want to tape those off now.)

5. Prime the hardboard.

6. Paint the bookshelf and legs once the primer is dry.

7. Paint the hardboard a coordinating color. (*Note: You could also cover this in fabric or wallpaper if you don't like the woodgrain effect!)

8. Mix your faux finishing glaze with desired paint color, following directions on the can. ( I used Behr Faux Finishing Glaze and added grey paint to it in the reccommended ratios).

9. In small sections, paint your glaze on over the dried base coat on hardboard.

10. Quickly drag the woodgraining tool over the glaze in a rocking motion, again following the instructions that come with the tool.

11. After this dries, use a clear sealant to protect it. (This can be of the paint on or spray on variety.)


1. Lay the bookshelf face down on the ground.

2. Once dry, attach the painted hardboard to the back with finishing nails all along the exterior of the backside of the bookshelf.

3. Now, turn the bookshelf upside down so that the bottom is straight up in the air. Attach the four legs to each corner using screws, making sure not to go through to the other side!

4. Measure the front of your bookshelf, cut the decorative yardstick to size using a handsaw.

5. Attach the yardstick to the front using small finishing nails. (If your bookshelf is longer than one yardstick (36" duh!), you may want to use more than one starting in the middle and working out. )



michelle said...

I clicked through from Design*Sponge and just wanted to let you know that you did a fabulous job on this bookshelf! Great work! :)

Katherine said...

i love this project! i'm so glad to have found your (through design*sponge).

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love the woodgrain effect on the back of the shelf! I'd love to do something like this, though I had one clarification question. Did you paint the backerboard light blue and then glaze it with tinted gray? Is that how you got the blue effect?

Thanks! Elizabeth

Carolyn said...

Thanks for the love!!

Anonymous: yes, you are correct- i primed it, then painted the base coat a light robin's egg blue color, then mixed gray paint with the glaze and painted it over the blue working in small sections. I'm pretty sure it sounds more complicated than it really is! Try it out!

TaoistCowgirl said...

Hi Carolyn! Thanks for the additional info. I'm definitely going to try this, perhaps with a light sage green undertone instead of the blue. I'll let you know how it turns out! --Anonymous, AKA TaoistCowgirl, AKA Elizabeth

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jessica said...

great makeover. i'm linking to it

ModFruGal said...

Nice job...your wood graining looks so good I thought you had used that faux bois wrapping paper Martha Stewart put out a few years ago...beautiful!

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