Keri Johnson
Keri Johnson
  • Hometalker
  • Plainfield, IL

Repurposed Bookshelf

6 Materials
$30
2 Hours
Easy

This repurposed bookshelf was the perfect statement piece for my home office renovation. I was going for a warm, vintage style, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. I’m hoping this project inspires you to take a fresh look at used or discarded items and see how you can make them beautiful!
Since storage is a premium in any home office, I was looking to create something stylish and functional for above my desk. Taking a look through my furniture stash (I refinish furniture and have a large stock-pile!), I came across this bookshelf. At this point, the best thing about it was that I got it for free.
Although petite (24”w x 48” h) and the perfect depth (10” deep), it wouldn’t fit above my desk in the vertical, traditional sense. But once I placed it on its side, I was convinced! Having recently finished this two-tone storage hutch for my office, I decided to mimic the paint colors and style and do a combination of paint and natural wood.
After painting the interior of the bookshelf the same gray as used on the hutch, I drilled holes into the top portion to allow for an added touch: sisal rope! (Each room in my house has some sort of rope accent - whether it be on a lantern, wall decor, or on a clock-face. Small touches like this are subtle, but give the rooms a sense of cohesiveness.)
Truth be told, this part was a pain! I never expected this rope to be so hard to cut! And once cut, it was really tough to push through the holes I drilled. (I made the size of the holes almost exact because I wanted a loop to stick up on the top, and if the space were too big, the bottom knots would sag down.)
Last (and crucial) step: finding studs! My husband hung the shelf on the wall by drilling straight through the back and into the studs. As with anything heavy, we weren’t taking any chances this would fall off of the wall.

To finish it off, I added IKEA storage boxes and personalized the spaces with some of my favorite decor. I was looking for unique, and I got it! I’m so glad that I kept that free shelf!!
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Have a question about this project?

8 questions
  • Lisa Fisher
    on Aug 22, 2018

    What kind of heavy duty hangers did you need for this to stay up on the wall? Like the idea.

    • Ellen
      on Aug 22, 2018

      "My husband hung the shelf on the wall by drilling straight through the back and into the studs. As with anything heavy, we weren’t taking any chances this would fall off of the wall." This is her quote about how they hung the shelving unit.

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 22, 2018

      Yes - thank you! We definitely didn’t want to risk not having the studs involved!!

  • Ellen
    on Aug 22, 2018

    Did you reinforce the now bottom shelf with screws? I was wondering if it could support the weight of your "doodads" when it was supposed to be the side of a bookshelf and not subject to the weight it will now have. Great idea, tho! Love it.

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 22, 2018

      Hi! Believe it or not, this was very sturdy! I didn’t feel the need to add support, but I completely agree that some bookshelves may require that step.

  • Ellen Longmore Brown
    on Aug 22, 2018

    Were the shelves adjustable when it was a bookshelf and, if so, how did you get them to not fall over when on turned on its side?

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 22, 2018

      No - that was part of the appeal. The shelves were not adjustable - completely affixed to their positions. If they were adjustable, I would have added L brackets to hold them in place.

  • Tra26078324
    on Aug 22, 2018

    looks great, where did you get your beautiful framed scripture from or did you do that yourself too.

  • Mary Hindrichs-Berg
    on Aug 31, 2018

    i love this project, but the desk really caught my eye. is this one of your projects? if so, please share it. Thanks in advance

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 31, 2018

      Hi Mary! I actually bought this desk online ages ago. It was up in my sewing room/spare bedroom, and I decided it was perfect for the renovated space and moved it down. I wish I could remember where I bought it! (Sorry!!)

  • Kathie Everton
    on Sep 18, 2018

    I have 1 wall I cant hang anything on. Do you have any sugestions?

    • Keri Johnson
      on Sep 21, 2018

      Hi Kathie! If you found a shallow enough bookshelf (like this one), you could set it on top of a desk if you couldn’t attach it to the wall!

    • Carole White
      on Aug 21, 2019

      Or you could do a hanging shelf, if you can drill into your ceiling.

    • Sheryl Sumpter
      on Aug 21, 2019

      studs are usually 12 -16 inches apart depending on when the house was built. tap on the wall every few inches, when you find the stud the sound will be different then measure out a foot and tap again to find the next one.

    • Sharon Johnson
      on Sep 3, 2019

      You do not say why you can't hand anything on your wall.


      Is it a concrete wall?

      Is it an old home with player that chips whenever anything touches it?

      Are you living in a rented space?

      Are you merely finding that stuff falls off your standard wallboard?


      There are lots of different ways to help you, depending on your situation.

  • Crafter
    on Aug 21, 2019

    What purpose do the ropes serve?

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 21, 2019

      No logistical purpose at all - simply decorative. I have a rope theme in my house - each room has a piece of rope, whether on a candle holder, wall hanging, furniture, etc. So I wanted to include some rope in my office, too!

  • Patti Reece
    on Aug 31, 2019

    I have a table where someone put something hot and the spot swelled and bubble up. How do I redo.

    • Keri Johnson
      on Aug 31, 2019

      Hi Patti. Is it the finish that bubbled? (I can’t see wood bubbling from heat.) If it’s the finish, you will most likely need to sand it down and refinish.

    • Sharon Johnson
      on Sep 3, 2019

      If the furniture itself bubbled, it is probably a form of compressed board with a very thin plastic coating to make the price look like it is made of real wood. If that is the case, I'm afraid the piece is essentially ruined.

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