Our Favorite Custom Book Shelf Ideas (DIY and Professional)

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Few ideas get a lifelong reader going faster than custom built bookshelves. We’re pretty sure Pinterest alone has thousands of pictures dedicated to our paper bound friends. If you decide to look to professionals for your custom built bookshelves, you’d be in good hands. The custom cabinetry industry employs nearly 100,000 people and generates 20 billion in revenue a year. However, if you just can’t envision absorbing the cost of a remodeling job despite the significant return on investment, it is possible to cut cost by attempting custom built bookshelves yourself. Below are three of our favorite designs, listed from easiest to hardest!
1. Found Art Chic — Skateboard Edition
This one is super simple. Take a couple of old skateboards, either from your kids’ forgotten toys or someone’s garbage and remove the wheels. Get a couple of metal rods, a drill, screws, and a wall mount piece, and boom–you have a double layered skateboard book shelf perfect for any den or man cave. The upward-curved ends of the skateboard act as natural deterrents to falling novels, and if you find skateboards with cool painted backs, this can be a splash of judicious color!
2. Found Art Chic Part Two — That Old Wooden Ladder
One look at your grand dad’s old-fashioned, thick wooden ladder probably made you shudder and remember your double broken ankle you got helping him clean out the gutters back in high school. But what’s treacherous for your bones is just fine and super stylish for your books. Simply turn the ladder horizontal and you’ve got yourself a shelf with periodic book ends you can use to categorize your genres. First the fun part: Explore stains and paints and pretty that ladder up a bit. Then for the construction, which mainly entails exploring ways to securely mount the ladder on your wall. (Note: this will require weighing the ladder and knowing which walls in your home can reliably bear such a load. We recommend stopping at Home Depot or doing some cursory research before drilling any holes into the plaster).
3. Wine Bottles and Lumber
We were in a commercial kitchen last week and saw the most darling thing. The chef had taken plywood, stained it, and then used empty wine bottles as the side paneling. The bottle neck provided the perfect support rest for each shelf level, and the tops of the bottles acted as the level above’s starting point. These shelves can also pull double duty as display areas. For added pizzazz and support, consider filling the wine bottles with colored sand, tea lights, or decorating their outsides with sun catchers. The overall effect is rustic bohemian goodness.
If this all seriously intimidates yet tempts you…
We are of the opinion that the best custom cabinets will probably have to be built by professionals. Those reading nooks you see on your newsfeed, the Salvdor Dali asymmetrical shelf for paperbacks, the shelf in the shape of a flower, or the United States, or a tea cup — yeah, those are all probably beyond your skill level. Just make sure that if you go the professional route, you do your research. Some obvious questions to ask cabinet builders include:
-How does their estimate compare to local competitors?
-Do they use sustainable materials?
-How quickly can they get the job done?
-What are their customer satisfaction reviews like?
-Can they work at times that are convenient for you?

Whether you go DIY or accredited wood worker, we are confident you’ll soon realize your custom book shelf dreams. Just be sure to post the results all over social media so we can salivate vicariously over your awesome remodel.

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