DIY Built-in Bookshelves


movie room bookshelf build 1 header

DIY Built-in Bookshelves

Alright, I must confess: I was 100% all for jumping on the IKEA hack bandwagon for this project. There are so many tutorials about retrofitting the “Billy” cabinet to make floor-to-ceiling bookcases. But when the dimensions didn’t fit our space, we had no choice but to go for a custom solution. And that’s usually where the best ideas are hiding.


DIY builtin bookshelves before

You can ask Joe, this was probably the thing I was most excited about when we moved into the house. It was at the top of my list, but not high priority compared to some other projects.


 DIY builtin bookshelves before

Doesn’t that space just scream BOOKSHELVES to you? …  No, you calm down.

How to Make Custom Built-ins

This wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. While you might still choose to do some sort of shelf hack, make sure you choose real wood that’s sure to hold up over time.

DIY builtin bookshelves We did some measuring and hit the lumber yard for a bunch of pine.

DIY builtin bookshelves

Naturally I jump the gun and hang a clock on the wall.

DIY builtin bookshelves

Meanwhile, Joe starts measuring and cutting boards for the bookshelves. We were able to comfortably fit four rows of shelves on each side.

DIY builtin bookshelves

Here’s what his rough ins looks like.

Painting an Accent Color

But first, paint.

bookshelf nook

We knew we wanted an accent color behind the bookshelves from the getgo. And since Joe hasn’t had a room in his favorite color yet, we decided to do them blue. I’ve really been digging deep and moody blues lately (Cue the Nights in White Satin), so we chose Blue Lava by Pittsburgh. Above is after one coat of paint. It looks nice down there since it’s monochromatic – goes with the Subtle Blue that is the rest of the room – but stands out to bring a great focus to this back wall.

painted bookshelves

Here’s how the color looks after two coats dried.

Designing the Bookshelves
DIY builtin bookshelves

First, Joe put up each shelf by screwing supporting pieces into both sides of the wall. Then the boards slide right on. Then he added a facia around the outside to frame the face of the bookshelf, giving it a finished look.

DIY builtin bookshelves

Making sure everything’s level.

DIY builtin bookshelves

Before securing the shelves, we burned and whitewashed them to match the look of our barn door.

DIY builtin bookshelves

We then faced each shelf with a thicker piece too. They line up flush with the border and make the shelves seem beefier than they are.

DIY builtin bookshelves

At this point, they’re looking pretty good! Trying out some Disney movies for size.

Adding LEDs for Backlit Bookshelves

DIY builtin bookshelves soldering LED backlit lights

Joe adding his signature touch – LED lights

DIY builtin bookshelves lighting

Here he’s soldering a strip of remote controlled lights that will hide at the back of the bookshelves.

Here’s a sneak peek at what that will look like.


Feeling pretty good at this point. Next week I’ll show you how we put the finishing touches on!

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