Reader Redesign: Don’t Built-Ins Rock?

Linn’s built-in project is such a great reminder of how upgrading your bookshelves from furniture to attached “architecture” can really give an entire room a boost. Here’s her letter:

I wanted to share a before and after of custom made built-in bookcases which my husband and I constructed! Seeing how our old bookcases left much to be desired in terms of looks but also in terms of practical storage space, and not wanting to spend a fortune having someone else custom build shelves, we decided to take on the project ourselves.

I have always loved the cozy look that built-in shelving provides a home, it gives it so much more character and charm in my mind!

Creating these built-in units seemed a bit intimidating at first, but once we broke it down in parts, it was very manageable. We constructed two huge wooden structures outside in our carport / aka woodshop(!), painted them white, and brought them inside.

For backing we used beadboard which I think gives the shelving a really nice touch. Putting everything together and finishing it off with a fair amount of molding and caulk took a bit longer than I had anticipated, but it’s always the finishing touches that takes the longest, isn’t it?

Now these built in shelves look great in our space and we can fit so many more books which was really the main reason to build these units in the first place! – Linn

Care to humor me for a moment? Ok, scroll back up and look at the before pics. Doesn’t this room look a foot taller now? It’s amazing how ceiling height built-ins can elongate a room and make it feel so much more open. And the beadboard on the back is such a great touch. You can learn more about the project (and the building process behind it) over on Linn’s blog. And if you love this update as much as we do, but are intimidated by all of the construction that Linn and her husband did, you can also get a similar effect with off-the-shelf bookcases (like Ikea’s Billy bookcases) that you can just assemble and then upgrade with some trim and molding for that built-in look. Happy built-in building!

Psst- We picked our random winner for this week’s giveaway. Click here to see if it’s you.


  1. Nikki says

    This looks awesome! If you wanted another zero dollar upgrade arrange the books by the color…it’s amazing how it changes them! Google around for images. I did this for a friend once on a small bookcase while she was out running and errand and she couldn’t believe the difference when she got back! Love the way this turned out!

  2. says

    I am so inspired. We are closing on a house soon and I think some built-ins would be awesome…if they look as fabulous as these do.

    Wondering where the couch and chair are from?? I am going to be in the market for some new seating too!

    Great Job!

    • Brianne says

      I think they’re from Ikea. At least the chairs are – I have the same ones at home too. Really comfy and well-built (and not as much to assemble as ever other Ikea thing, haha)

    • Catherine says

      I agree – they look exactly like a couch (and ottoman) I have from Ikea. Google for Ikea Ektorp if you get a chance! And check out the different – and washable – slip covers that go with them. :)

  3. Kate says

    Looks great! We’re going to be doing something similar in our basement soon, which will both help add some storage space (right now we just have two normal bookshelves we already owned, which definitely doesn’t fill the space) as well as disguise the fact that the wall bumps out a bit right there (the bookshelf will look to be a constant depth from the front, but one half will be deeper than the other because of the wall – we can jhust use that half for larger books!).

  4. says

    This. Is. Amazing. !!
    The rooms looks so much straighter and more structured just by these built ins. I totally want something like this.
    I will recommend to my own clients, Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. says

    Sweet! Such a simple project with major results!

    I’ve been wanting to construct similar built-ins in our living room but we have those dang baseboard heaters on every wall. Booo!

  6. says

    They look so great! Timely too – we just did built-ins in our basement (via IKEA lol). I just did a blog post about it today, in fact. Not complete yet (need to get trimmed out) but in place and secured to the wall/other cabinets, etc. We can’t wait to get it finished!

  7. says

    Those look awesome!! I’m working on a similar thing right now, but we bought closet shelving from Home Depot to do it. We’re going to add molding and trim, so it will be nice to see a tutorial with tips.

    I posted about it here, we’re still working on it though!

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