How to Repurpose a Bookcase

By Jennifer Marlowe

Bookcases aren't just for books. An old bookcase makes a useful piece of furniture for organizing and decluttering your home. Bookcases can work in virtually every room of the house. Use a bookcase in your mudroom to store shoes and boots, or place a bookcase in your kitchen as a makeshift pantry. Or move the piece into the bathroom to provide a place to stack towels and store lotions and shampoos. Study the area you want to declutter and think of creative ways a bookcase could help.

List of Items Needed

  • Sawhorses
  • Sandpaper or handheld multipurpose tool with sanding accessory
  • Chemical paint stripper (optional)
  • Clean rags
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Oil-based paint in the color of your choice
  • Shelf liner (heavy-duty)
  • Four storage bins or baskets with labels
  • Two screw-in wooden pegs
  1. Look over the bookcase you plan to repurpose. Make any necessary repairs. Ensure that the piece is sturdy and won't tip easily. Move the bookcase to a well-ventilated area. Remove the shelves. Place the shelves on sawhorses.

  2. Sand the old finish or paint from the bookcase and shelves using a coarse-grit sandpaper. If the piece has many layers of old paint or varnish, use a chemical paint stripper, handheld sander or multipurpose tool with sanding accessory. Wipe the bookcase and shelves thoroughly with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. Let everything dry and apply a coat of primer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Allow the bookcase and shelving to dry completely.

  3. Lightly sand the entire piece with the fine grade sandpaper. Wipe the bookcase and shelves clean with a damp rag. Allow the bookcase and shelves to dry. Apply one coat of oil-based paint. Follow the manufacturer's directions and allow the paint to dry completely. Repeat with a second coat if necessary.

  4. Cover the three bottom shelves with a durable shelf liner. Place the bookcase in a mudroom or area close to the door. Replace the shelves. Adjust the shelving height, if possible, to allow for tall boots. Use the bottom three shelves for shoes and boots.

  5. Label one storage box "Hats" and another "Mittens." Designate the other two for whatever you need. If the mail tends to collect on the kitchen counter, designate one storage container for mail. Place these storage boxes on the higher shelves. Screw the wooden pegs, one on each side, into the bookcase for coats and scarves.

Tips and Warnings

  • Plenty of washable, durable paints are available. Oil-based paint tolerates wet boots and shoes. Other paints may do the job, but study each before purchasing. A good paint is worth the money when it will extend the bookcase's lifespan.

© Demand Media 2011