DIY Built-In Bookcase Tutorial

As promised, I’m back today with the how-to on our bookcases.

We started with 5 sheets of MDF and used just about every inch of it {including what we cut for the window seat}.  Our bookcases measure about 33″ wide, 16″ deep, and 8′ tall, just for reference.  We started by cutting the back piece of each bookcase and laid that flat in our garage.  Then we glued to side pieces in place {Mike had to wipe it on with a paper towel.  My chisel/stitches incident may have also ruined the top of the glue…oops}.

Then nailed it in place with the nail gun.

Then we did the same thing on the top and bottom shelf.

And you’ll have this gorgeous {cough, cough} box.

Then we hauled this thing in the house {which was quite humorous} and set it in place.  Mike took some screws and secured it into the studs in the walls.

We made our screws go into the back where we had decided to place the shelves so our shelves would cover our screw holes.  Pretty clever, I know.  From here, I failed as a blogger.  For whatever reason, I stopped taking pics so I’ll have to explain in words {boring, I know} how we secured the shelves.  It was pretty simple.  We just grabbed some shelf holders from Lowe’s and drilled them into the sides of the box.  Then we sat the shelves on.  See, you don’t even need pictures.  From there it was time to fancy it up.  Here’s what the box looked like after we added the shelves.

Ugly.  So we bought some 2 1/4″ mdf trim and ripped it in half so the trim is about an inch.  We cut it to size and Mike nailed it along to the sides and across the front of each shelf.

And the after {but before patching the holes}.

The last step for the shelves themselves was to caulk the seams to give it the professional touch.

To finish off the tops, we added some crown molding which was much easier than we anticipated.  We started by setting the saw at a 45 degree angle.

You have to line the molding up at an angle so the top and bottom are flat against the saw area and cut.

Then we nailed it into place.

Our final addition was to add the cute little doors.  I failed on taking pics here again, but it was pretty basic.  We cut some scrap MDF to size and then took some of the small pieces of MDF we had cut off the larger pieces and nailed it on as trim.  Then I painted the whole thing white.  We bought simple cabinet hinges and drilled on some handles.

And that’s the basic how-to.  I’ll end it with a couple more pretty pics:)





These are the fabulous blog parties I link up to each week:

DIY Showoff: DIY Project Parade

I Heart Naptime: Sundae Scoop

Skip to My Lou: Made By You Mondays

Today’s Creative Blog: Get Your Craft On

Tip Junkie: Tip Me Tuesday

Home Stories A to Z: Tutorials and Tips Tuesdays

Not Just a Housewife: Shoe Me What Ya Got

Blue Cricket Design: Show and Tell

Hooking Up with Hepworths

Shabby Chic Cottage: Transformation Thursday

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

CSI Project: Challenge

5 Days, 5 Ways

Remodelaholic: Blog Link Up

30 Handmade Days

Serenity Now

Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap-Up



  1. Angela Jones says:

    The bookshelves are awesome! And I love the crown molding which added such a nice finished look! Your decorations are adorable and you made it sound soooo easy; which I know it had to be much harder than that; lol!! Beautiful addition to an already lovely bedroom!!

  2. Kay Dougherty says:

    Beautiful!!! I love your “pretties” you put in it!

  3. These look awesome! I just need a few more power tools and I think I can attempt a project like this! You should stop by and check out my attempt at using a drill last week for my Upholstered Headboard in my Master Bedroom. Cheers, MGal

  4. Coming over from the Link Party on House of Hepworths. I love your built ins! You did such a great job explaining the step by step. Awesome!!!

  5. Love it! I so want to do that for my dUghter’s room! Great job!

  6. Nice job! They frame the window nicely and add so much storage. The crown molding really finishes it off nicely. I’m visiting from Remodelholic.

    Have a great weekend!

  7. Creating built-ins beside our fireplace is on my to-do list, but I’m thinking of going the easy route and buying two of the $60 Billy bookcases from IKEA and adding some crown and baseboards to them. I’ll get that done… someday! Unlike you guys, any time my hubs and I try to use a saw, it’s a complete disaster. We’re woodworking challenged, for sure.

    • I’ve seen some great things done with the Billy bookcases! Unfortunately for us, they are too small to fill the large space we had from our windows to the walls so we had to do it from scratch. Good luck-I’m sure it will look beautiful!

  8. I was just thinking about wanting to do this earlier today. Thanks for the great tutorial. I pinned it.

  9. A similar project is in the future for our “reading nook”. Thanks for sharing your tips- I especially love the doors on the bottom, since we have six kids and could use some storage with cabinet locks! Great job!

  10. What a great way to add extra storage and character! Your new shelves look awesome. If you have some time I’d love it if you’d stop by my blog to check out the giveaway I’m having for a Ramsign Home Sign!

  11. These are so great! I’m digging built-ins lately – and this seems so doable.

    Seems that the caulk and molding is what really finishes it off and gives it that truly built-in look. Great job :)

  12. Are those shades handmade or store bought and how is it done?

  13. Beautiful, Jessie! This is on my to-do list. Great job and such an inspiration! I’m going to include a link back in this week’s highlights! ;)

  14. Jessie, thank you for the great tutorial. I love how the crown molding really completes your project. What an awesome idea to put the window seat between the book cases. We would like to put some bookcases in our office but now you’ve inspired me to think about building them in. I like Jenna’s idea to use the Ikea Billy bookcases & adding the crown molding. We unlike you & you’re hubby are quite “building impaired”. You two did a beautiful job & should be very proud of yourselves. I’m so impressed with how your idea turned out!

  15. Hello Jessie – nice job on your cabinets! They turned out great and I have this linked to my DIY built-ins post too today, for inspiration!

  16. The doors of the bookcase are brilliant! Making a project very similar and couldn’t figure out how to make some bookcase doors. Thanks for the idea!!!


  1. […] revealed our {mostly} finished bookcases last week and shared the tutorial on how we created them.  Over the weekend we spruced them up even more by adding arches and today […]

  2. […] We built the base of the seat of out 2x4s.  This was cost effective {because we had a bunch on hand} and gave the MDF some extra strength.  We started by drawing out our plan and took our measurements to fit right into our built-in bookcases. […]

  3. […] DIY Built-in Bookcase Tutorial […]

  4. […] Built-in bookshelves in room are considered a big sign of luxury! So, now you can install faux build in bookshelves of your own which would be much near to real ones! Build the basic shape using MDF board and spray paint it! Now install it to decided wall locations and give a crown molding finish! Step-by-step tutorial here imperfectlypolished […]

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