Before & After: Built-In Bookshelves Get a DIY Hack & Style Upgrade

Before & After: Built-In Bookshelves Get a DIY Hack & Style Upgrade

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Ashley Poskin
Jul 19, 2017
The living room when we moved in.
(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

We absolutely love our apartment; it has so much character and light, but when we moved in, one thing in particular I knew I wanted to upgrade were the bookshelves. At first glance they seemed fine, but once we started putting our books on them we realized that the positioning of the shelves — with 20" height between shelves — was not only an inefficient use of space but just looked odd with so much extra height above the books. Since the fireplace and bookshelves are the focal point of the room, I didn't think it was a design element I could ignore.

Upon inspecting the insides of the cubbies I noticed there were many, many holes drilled for moving pegs all around so all I really needed to do was head out to the hardware store and get another piece of wood cut for each cubby, paint it to match, and then I was done.

But...then I got to thinking and scheming and ended up on Pinterest and started obsessing over this one particular bookshelf that Emily Henderson styled and I was a goner. I loved the visual interest that adding diagonal dividers added to the shelves and thought — I can do that!

Because we are renters I needed to devise a solution that was easy to remove when we leave. I started sketching out some ideas and then called in my friend John, an aspiring woodworker, for help because, frankly, he's better than math than I am. The project took us an afternoon.

Here's the final result:

(Image credit: Ashley Poskin)

I love the new look and I enjoy styling the shelves with some of my favorite books and accessories.

If you want to try this on your own shelves, I documented my steps and wrote a tutorial to walk you through the steps:

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