Fake Built In Bookshelf from Closet Organizers

Closet Organizer turned Bookshelf 2 Redouxinteriors

After 10 years in my home, I was ready to commit to a grown up living room. No more curbside finds that were basically place holders for decent furniture.  No more using my front room as a holding place for completed furniture.  For the full experience of how we lived for the past several years, I recommend you check out my  Home Video tour.

I have always wanted built ins, but not in love with the cost.  After wracking my brain and searching the internet for the right size bookshelves that would fit between wall and window (a narrow area), I hit upon the idea of using Closet organizers and painting them out!  Fake Built in Bookshelf from Closet Organizers was born!

The idea of using closet organizers came to me while I was in Home Depot searching for DIY Shelving.   I always think everything is a Done in a Day project.  NOT SO HERE.  It took a little more time to assemble the Closet organizers than it would for a put together bookshelf.

Be sure to have all your friends (tools) available.  It will keep the frustration level down…..

One down, three to go.  The surface of these were about as slick as ice.  I had to rough up the surfaces with a 220 grit sandpaper so my CeCe Caldwell’s paints would have something to stick to.

I used a very light coat of Zinnser Spray primer on every surface.  I let the primer cure for 24 hours.   I painted the exterior with DIY Clay and Chalk Paint in Letter Press Grey and the shelving in Vintage White.  I used three coats of Grey for the entire pieces. Normally 3 coats would not be required.  However,  I had to paint very thin coats to let the paint adhere and cure properly.  After all paint had dried for 24 hours, I sealed everything with my favorite DDIY Paint Big Top and buffed it out with a brown paper bag.  You can see how at my Video Tutorial.  It is a pretty neat trick!

I moved the shelving units into place (by myself, couldn’t wait for suffering husband to get home).  Secure them to the wall (I live in earthquake country in California).  Then I filled them with our beloved books!  Our books have been hiding in shelving in my office.  I have always wanted them in the front room where they are easily accessable.

The rest of the room is a work in progress, with chairs awaiting upholstery, a couch arriving soon and a dog that loves the new area rug….

Sharing the rest of the room and the progress in the days to come.  Stay tuned, it is coming together!  In the meantime, feel free to peruse my book selection….


  1. Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces

    Love it! We have a window similar to yours with the same amount of space that we are putting built-ins in. I was graciously given some awesome pocket windows from an 1800’s home that I’m using for the front, and grabbed curbside side of a waterbed (I believe) that has built in drawers, and that’s going to be our window seat. Oh yeah, during city cleanup there were ample couch cushions, so I even have those for the top….just need reupholstered.

    Great job, Karen!!
    ~ Larissa

  2. cassie

    such a great idea, karen! you’d never know it wasn’t a bookcase!

  3. Diana

    Nice job I love the grey and white together. Can’t wait to see the progression.

  4. Nina

    Love the idea. They turned out nice. We are in contract on a 50’s ranch where you walk right in to the living room. Hubby was thinking of building a pony wall and replacing a section of carpet with marble to define a foyer. As I was trolling Pinterest I came upon the idea of using a 2 shelf bookcase as I figured out there is hardwood underneath.

  5. Blondie

    Beautiful tranformation.

  6. Patricia Krank

    You are simply brilliant! Love!

  7. Shannon @ Fox Hollow Cottage

    I completely get the “grown up” house reference. I feel the same. What a smart fix, nothing plus a room together like built ins and going up is such a great way to utilize your space!!!! Looking lovely dahling. And oh so grown up!! 🙂

  8. Deborah

    Brilliant idea and a perfect fit in your space! You should see my house. I’m trying to dig out too!

  9. Diane

    Brilliant idea and looks great. I shared it on Pinterest!

  10. Audra @ Renewed Projects

    Fabulous! I, too, love built in bookshelves. It was the first custom job we added to our living room. Next stop is converting the basement to a den complete with built-in shelves…of sorts. 🙂

  11. Danielle

    They look fabulous! Thanks for sharing at Silver Pennies Sundays! x

  12. Tanya

    This is brilliant Karen, forwarding to a friend who is trying to create the same thing! xo

  13. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.

    Great upcycle! And the perfect family library!

  14. Maryann @ Domestically Speaking

    Aren’t you a smarty pants! Great idea and your room is looking fab. I’m featuring your bookshelf in the PoPP Spotlight.

  15. brooke

    I love this idea!! I am featuring you night at my Furniture and Paint Party!!



  16. Devi

    Well done!! I’ve been wanting to do a walk in closet over–it’s got wire shelving and drawers and there are many problems with it. I would love custom finishes. The Home Depot closets look cheap. This is a great idea for my closet

  17. nosejob

    Onnce you let a double-glazing salesman within your door he’ll almost
    certainly noot vanish entirely until you have signed his order form.
    Yess unfortunately awning windows seem to bbe much more
    high-priced than their sliding alternatives. Your initial step is to identify what
    yyou wish done on the house.

  18. Dan

    This has always been my dream! This is great, I’m going to try to build something like this in the future.



  1. Top 10 Bookshelf Upcycles - […] Technically, this is not a Bookshelf makeover. It is a makeover in reverse! We have two spaces in our…

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