Convert Short Shelves Into a Single Unit

12 Materials
2 Days

When I was organizing my craft room recently, I was looking for ways to optimize storage. I had two small shelving units that we had picked up at the thrift shop that I had stacked in the corner of my closet. Since I was going to be adding a large storage unit in the closet, the shelves had to come out. I knew that they were not secure enough to remain stacked without the support of the closet walls so I decided to make them into one, tall unit.

Here are the two shelving units

To begin the project, I added two coats of chalk paint to the shelving units then took them to the garage to convert them from two to one.

To attach the top shelf to the bottom, I used construction glue. As you can see, one of the units is wider than the other so I nailed a support board at the bottom of the top unit. Using Elmer's glue and my nail gun, I attached a sheet of 1/8" plywood to each side of the unit to both cover the area where they were connected and to provide some stability. 

The reason that I placed the wider unit on top was because the top of the lower unit had a flat surface. I thought it would be easier to glue them together that way. If I were to do it again, I would have placed the wider unit on the bottom and then add a 1/2" piece of plywood between the two.

To close in the back of the unit I cut a sheet of beadboard and a sheet of thin plywood and glued them to the back; I would have used beadboard for both, but only had enough on hand to do the bottom piece. Once the glue was dried, I secured the backing, even more, using my nail gun.

After the two sections were together, I cut two pieces of 1/2" plywood, one to create a base to make the unit more stable as it would be sitting on the carpet and the other to create a top since the top shelf unit was open.

The next step in this project was to trim out the cabinet. Using 1" corner trim, I covered where the plywood was added to the sides on all 4 corners of the piece. While it wasn't a necessity, I wanted the unit to look like it was a custom-built piece so I trimmed out the front of each shelf with the same small trim that I used on the top and bottom pieces. I glued the trim with Elmer's and used painters tape to hold the trim in place while the glue dried. Once the glue was dry, I painted the trim. 

When all the trim was installed, the glue dried and the nail holes filled in, I went over all the pieces with caulking to provide that custom-built look. 

Front of the unit after caulking.

The chalk paint I used is Waverly chalk paint in Agave then used Annie Sloan Dark Wax to antique it and Clear Wax to buff it out.

 After touch up paint & waxing, the new shelf was complete! With the added plywood as a base, this unit is stable now. I love the way it came out and happy to have the additional storage for crafting supplies.

The $30 figure comes from the trim I purchased. If you also need to buy the rest of the supplies, that amount would be larger. I would suggest shopping at Habitat for trim, plywood, beadboard, construction glue.

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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

1 question
  • Debra Coate
    on Feb 27, 2020

    I have two of those shelving units, but one is white & one is brown. Would you prime it first? And if so, what would you use?

    • Jeanne
      on Feb 28, 2020

      If you are using regular latex paint and the surface is laminate, then I would suggest priming them first. I used chalk paint on laminate but did not prime. They are holding up great!

Join the conversation

4 of 10 comments
  • Trina
    on Feb 27, 2020

    That is a super idea I needed to make a shelf unit now I know what to do thanks for the idea

    • Jeanne
      on Feb 28, 2020

      You're welcome! I'm sure you'll love your creation!

  • Mar
    on Feb 28, 2020

    Look for the vinyl shutters at thrift stores, Habitat for Humanity or yard sales to add to the sides for an interesting look. They can be spray painted to either match or contrast your project.

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