DIY Bookshelf

My 3 year old son’s bedroom is decorated in really bright colors and has a monster theme, so I wanted a bookshelf that I could customize to the colors of the room. Most stores don’t sell lime green bookshelves, so when I saw the idea to use unfinished wooden crates on Pinterest I knew I was on to something.

This is what I created:

DIY Bookshelf made from crates

I love how it turned out! Here’s how to do it yourself:

At Joann or Home Depot (I hear they are $3 cheaper at Home Dept) you can buy unfinished wooden crates. They cost around $10.

(If you are shopping in store for these, I recommend looking for ones that have the label on the side stuck on with sticky stuff rather than glue. Three of the crates I bought had labels that were glued on and impossible to get off, the other was just stuck on and pulled right off. If I had known ahead of time I would have checked them before buying them.)

Then I went to Lowe’s and bought paint in my color palette as well as spray finish. The paint I used was in the sample size containers of Valspar or Olympic. You could also use spray paint.

Then it’s as easy as painting the crates whatever color you want them. You could also stain them if you prefer. (I have seen some nice versions done in black, that may be my next project…) It took several coats of paint to cover them as thoroughly as I wanted. After they dried I spray finished them several times as well.

The trickiest part of this project was putting it all together. I ended up buying some very small screws and screwing them into the “roof” of each shelf. So that it goes for example into the top of the orange crate and up through the bottom of the red but doesn’t poke all the way through the red.

If I was doing it again I would try liquid nails. I have had readers try that and it worked great for them!

Another option would be to screw the crates straight into the wall or to put a piece of wood behind them and screw them into that.

I am very happy with the result and my son loves it! And all of his monsters!

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Hey there! I'm Amber, mom of 4 crazy boys, wife of 1 and non-stop, always busy, crazy project doer. (There's a reason why we call it *Crazy* Little Projects.) I love chocolate, reading, sewing and being with people!

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  1. says

    I LOVE it! We’ve definitely used crates before, but I never even thought of painting them. THe colors are so much fun!

  2. says

    I love this. What a great idea to use wooden crates. I might have to do this for a bookshelf in my son’s room. Thanks for sharing at Showcase Your Talent Thursday. I hope to see you there next week!

  3. says

    I think I’m going to attempt this for my son’s room and try using zip ties to connect the crates. That way it will be easier to take apart and use as storage bins if I ever want to. I figure nobody will be able to see the zip ties if the shelves are full.I just finished his dresser so I have leftover paint and polycrylic to use up.

  4. says

    Very cute! I bet they would also work as a nightstand/bookshelf if you only used a couple. You could also do floating shelves and screw in middle of wall like you mentioned. I have thought about building a simple dollhouse for my daughter that she can convert to bookcase later. These might be an option for that.

  5. says

    Amber, you could also paint a long thin strip of wood and screw it to the back of all of them. That might keep them a little more supported than just glue. You continue to amaze me and I just love your creativity and energy.

  6. Brit Kohl says

    This is great! Totally gonna do this for my 5 year old little boy’s room. I may have to do 4 high & 2 wide because he’s got so many books, but I’ll figure it out. :-) Thanks for sharing(and I love the monster in the top shelf, so cute!).

    • Amber says

      Sorry, I don’t even know. I made them over a year ago, before I even started my blog. Any spray finish should work though?

  7. jenna says

    Love this so much, I spent forever on Pinterest trying to find it again. I’m going to do this for my baby girls nursery, in pink, green and brown! Thanks for the idea!!!

  8. holly p says

    home depot has these crates for $ 7.97 in store they are 18×12.5×9.5. they are with the start fresh and save event usually up front by the registers

  9. Amanda says

    I made two sets of these and they turned out great! The only thing I would change would be to somewhat sand the crates before painting because even after the spray finish, they seem very rough. Also, I tried the liquid nails like you suggested and it worked great! I got mine at Joanns and then when I went to Home Depot for the paint, they had them there for $3 cheaper. Darn it. And all of them had the labels glued on so that was a pain. Otherwise, very simple project! Thanks for the cute idea!

  10. Enid says

    These would look great in a bathroom too! For shampoo, towels, the works.
    I will try these at my new apartment!

  11. Linda says

    Try using a product called Goof off. Its sold at Walmart’s paint dept. It gets sticky residue from stickers off.

  12. Lara says

    my daughter has something similar that we bought at a garage sale, but my son will need something really soon, now I know where to buy them. You could always wait and stock up on JoAnn coupons and get them over time from there it may be cheaper.

  13. Carol says

    Connecting them to the wall is a good idea to prevent them from toppling over as we all know that there will be at least one attempt to crawl up them.

    • Robin Rakes says

      That is what I was going to say. These are great- but secure them to the wall really well. A child will climb these & it will fall if not secured. Think about running them horizontal & maybe a couple of cushions on top, it they are sturdy enough to hold your child.

  14. Erin says

    You can get crates at Michaels and use your 40% off coupon each week from the paper or your email. They have to be sanded instead of more finished, but are definitely more cost efficient.

  15. Michelle says

    I orders these crates from Home today they don’t have them in the store they were 11.97 no big deal but I did not get sample paint the guy was not very helpful so I now have a quart of blue and orange paint which now I have way to much paint…. Any way waiting for them to come and can’t wait to do it! Just wondering what I can do with that extra paint maybe by wood shelves and paint those : )

  16. Deepshikha says

    It’s looks beautiful!! Can you pls tell me the size of these crates ? My son has a lot of big books and it looks like it’s the perfect size. I wouldn’t want to get anything smaller . Thanks !

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