DIY: Bookshelf Makeover

When we moved last year, I was shocked that I owned over 30 boxes of books. I had measured the bookshelves in our new apartment – 220 feet of built-in bookshelves. No problem, right? Wrong. Very Wrong.

For the first view months, I color coded my books and spread them around the shelves…to a humorous result, as shown at near left.

The blank bookshelves would stare at me every morning over coffee and every night while watching television. I considered buying books by the foot, but I have a real issue having books in your home that you haven’t read or at least tried to read. I knew I needed a solution before I started having nightmares about my pathetic bookshelves.

One morning, I finally realized that my lack of books was not the issue (I will always collect more), but the staggering yardage of bookshelves was! So I re-purposed the shelving to make the most of the books I already own. Here is how I did it.

First, I removed some real estate. I extracted four shelves from the upper quadrants to create two larger spaces, suitable for hanging a piece of art or photography. That adjustment lessened the “book” real estate by 20 feet – definitely a move in the right direction.

Second, I shifted the remaining shelves to create four display rows. I own a few coffee table books. One of the reasons I don’t own more is that at our house the books would just become expensive coasters. With the new display shelves, I decided to prop the books open, allowing us to enjoy their beautiful artwork and photography.

Finally, I created a cording system to hold the books upright and open. The cording system was easy to install. I attached a short screw hook to a plastic plug and worked the plug into the peg holes of the bookshelf (shown top left). Next, I attached jute twine to hooks using a slip knot to create resistance against the book pages. Think of the jute like a rubber band on a book stand to hold the correct page open – the cording system works the same way.

I am really enjoying the new bookshelf configuration. I find myself flipping through the coffee table size books once a week, enjoying the photography and creating new vignettes on the shelves. Changing the color schemes of the books displayed changes the whole look of the room.

Next up? I want to paint the background of all the shelves a fun color. I expect the Husband to soundly veto that idea. Good thing he isn’t in charge of decor – I gave him the area around the grill and the TV. The rest is all mine to decorate as I please! Or at least it is until he sees this post!