If you want the look of custom bookshelves but your home didn’t come with built-in beauties like these, no worries! You can make your own for a fraction of the price of custom, handmade ones.
The secret to creating the custom look quickly and inexpensively is to accentuate a plain, standard bookshelf with molding. Or go a step further and use stock shelving components to build your own bookshelf first. Are you really handy? Then build your own shelves from scratch.
Regardless which route you choose, stock moldings can help you create the look of custom furniture. Just keep in mind that if you purchase inexpensive bookcases, it may be difficult to match the wood to the molding or consistently coat the pieces with stain. Opt for unfinished shelves and paint-ready molding—it’s cheaper and easier.
Here’s a brief overview culled from step-by-step instructions found in Home Depot Decorating Projects 1-2-3. For specifics you’ll need to buy the book. (Full disclosure: I worked on this book, but it’s chockfull of fun DIY decorating projects and I don’t get a penny from the sales of it so I don’t feel bad about promoting it.)
Begin by building a plinth base that’s the same height as the baseboard in the room. Then remove the existing baseboard where the bookcase will be attached so you can screw it into the wall (this prevents the bookcase from falling over). Once you make sure the plinth base is level and screw it into the wall, place the bookcase evenly on the plinth base and attach it to the walls studs. (If there’s a gap between the back of the bookcase and the wall, you may need to slide a shim into it; you can caulk the gap later.) Now you can attach face-frame pieces to the top, sides, and bottom of the front of the shelf. Attach crown and base molding to the shelves, then cut and nail beaded screen moldings on the three vertical face frames. After that all that’s left to do is seal any gaps between the bookcase and wall or between pieces of molding with paintable caulk. Sand the whole darn thing, prime, and apply two coats of paint. Once it’s dry, you’re ready to fill the shelves with your musty tomes or paperback best-sellers.
Inspiration always helps, and you’ll find all sorts of ideas from the attractive built-in options showcased here.
And if a built-in bookshelf won’t cut it, perhaps one that hides a secret passageway is more your style.
The Home Know-It-All