How To Repurpose a Laminate Bookshelf

If you are a regular shopper of garage sales and thrift stores, or if you buy a lot of furniture via online classifieds, then you know that it’s quite easy to find used laminate bookshelves. They are available in varying heights and the construction is rudimentarily simple. The lines are straight and clean, but perhaps a bit boring.

The beauty of these bookshelves, though, is that the simplicity and bargain price make them ideal for creating DIY showpieces. You can usually find one that stands 8’ high for about $15 and it doesn’t even have to be the right color because you’re going to change it anyway.

To take it from hum-drum to spectacular you need to make just three considerations:

  1. Paint. This is obviously the most effective technique for giving the book shelf a face lift. In order for it to be successful though, you have to do it right.
  2. Wallpaper. This is the most creative way to add personality and detail to the bookshelf. To do so, it must be adhered to the back wall of the bookshelf.
  3. Molding. This is how you will create designed and streamlined edges that look far more stylish than just the straight, dull edges that exist on the bookshelf.

Some how-to tips:

  • Items you may need to purchase: Molding, wallpaper, adhesive, Xacto knife, paint, paint brushes in various sizes, primer, drop cloth, wood glue and nails, wood putty, etc.
  • Decide if you are going to wallpaper the back panel of the book shelf. (The background on which the books are displayed.) If so, no need to go through the steps for painting the panel.
  • To paint the bookshelf, clean it thoroughly and disassemble any parts that need to be separated. For example, taking all of the shelves out of the case. The most important part of the painting process is the primer. Make sure to buy a primer intended for laminate surfaces!
  • Paint the molding pieces before attaching them. Four pieces should be attached to the front frame of the bookshelf. Basically, you’re kind of framing it like a piece of artwork. Miter cut the edges so they line up to make a perfect corner.

These are just a few ideas for ways to turn a cheap laminate bookshelf into a wonderful focal point in a room. Mix and match the tips as you see fit, and use the pointers that best help you create the bookshelf you have in mind. 

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