Cheap Bookshelf gets a Makeover with Bookpages

Furniture and Cabinetry Redouxs, Furniture Makeovers, Le Junque, Tutorials

We all see them.  Sad bookshelves with no character.  Blah boxes sitting on the floor. Ungloriously holding books and knick knacks. They can be had for a few dollars at garage sales, thrift stores, or if you are lucky, free at your friendly dumpster.  These bookshelves should be given a second chance in life.  Too often they are cast aside for their sleeker, improved versions.  No more.  Think outside the box to give these old things some character.

El Cheapo bookshelf makeovers are one of my favorite projects.  I did THIS one that is still in my top  10 DAILY a few years ago, with fabric.  This bookshelf got its makeover with book pages. Something I have a lot of around here.  (All free from Dumpster Dives!).  I started with a free bookshelf that was so bad, it was on life support.  I turned it upside down, and began by removing the cardboard backing. Very carefully, with the claw part of a hammer, you can pry it off.

I covered it in book pages, then used Mod Podge to keep them in place.

The best way to get a chunk of book pages at once is to use a craft knife and run it down the spine, as close as you can to the center.  When you finish this project, be sure to schedule yourself a manicure if your hands look like mine.  I haven’t scheduled mine.  My hands perpetually look like this.  They are beyond hope.

While the book pages and Mod Podge were drying, I turned my attention back to the box.  I turned it upside down and added a piece of MDF.  This would provide more stability and give me a place to put the plates and legs on.  I purchased four leg plates and small legs at Home Depot.

I roughed up the plasticky finish a bit, then painted the entire piece with CeCe Caldwell’s Vermont Slate.  This paint goes on so easily, and you don’t need to prime!    Plus, it is 100% Green, even the can is recyclable!  I sealed the paint with CeCe Caldwell’s 100%  natural wax.  It is so nice to use a wax that has no fumes.  Plus, it is extremely durable, and buffs out to a gorgeous shine.

Stay tuned because I have another bookshelf makeover coming up. This one has wheels!

My bookshelf is coming out of its bookish interior and going out on the town to these lovely parties:

Prodigal Pieces




  1. Sheryl

    LOve it..what a transformation!

  2. cassie

    looks SO good!

  3. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions

    Looks great, Karen! Even just the addition of the legs is a big improvement on these little bookcases. I have to remember that next time I see one. Love the idea of the book pages, too. I have an old dictionary {or encyclopedia} waiting for a project to use those pages on.

  4. Jan

    A + inspiration as usual

    At this very moment I have a similar shelf in the trunk of my car. Mine has no back, so it’s very wobbly, but it has some interesting routing detail so I couldn’t resist keeping it.
    My plan is to add a back to shore it up, and it might need a new base too. Mine has a little skirt (apron? what’s the term?) on the base with a decorative curve I want to maintain, so I’m thinking small feet that don’t show, or the old-reliable small caster.


  5. sayuri@Vintage Breeze

    The added legs really make a difference and I love the sheet music back, of course:)

  6. brooke

    I love the backdrop the book pages create!! Great job!!


  7. Jayne

    love, LOVE this, amazing maekover!

  8. Jayne

    love, LOVE this, amazing makeover!


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