I Built That!

DIY Floating Bookcase

How to personalize a bookcase with accessories | The Chelsea Project Blog | www.thechelsesaproject.com

Hello and welcome to Round Two of the boy’s bedroom redo…

.……where the goal is to nix the childhood “treehouse” decor and create a relaxing

young adult living space.

In case you missed the first segment, it explained the process for painting a faux midnight ceiling.  

 This was original to the treehouse theme and we really wanted to keep it.  

Since the ceiling is the fifth wall,

I wanted something up there and just couldn’t imagine coming up with anything better.  

Plus, it was the only element my son asked if he could keep.

How could I say no?

 So, with the ceiling as inspiration, the new room began…..

This challenge, which is second in the series, is very different from the first

in that a very rough and rustic floating bookcase

had to be incorporated into a more sophisticated design

….or be cut out of the wall and tossed in the garbage.

 Cut out of the wall?

Tossed in the garbage?

Uuuuummm. No.

Especially since new drywall and a new bookcase would have to be purchased or built.  

Either way, it would be so much more expensive than a redo.


So, I had to find a way to make this work.

And, now……

I’m thrilled to share

…how it miraculously came together.

Step 1:  Cut all bookcase boards and furring strips to desired length.   Since I wanted to age and distress the original bookcase, I used pine wood (3/4 inch by 11 inch) because it was softer.  In order to distress it, I had to beat on the wood with chains, tools, screws…. anything that would make rough and rustic dents.  If you are not planning to distress your boards, then MDF (3/4 inch thick) is also a good option. The furring strips, which will help support the shelves, come in about 6 foot long pieces. Just look carefully to avoid warped strips. IMG_1936 Also suggest that when you go to the home improvement center, take your exact measurements and they might cut the boards and furring strips for you.  I use the cutting service at my home improvement center as much as possible.  Just plan out what cuts are needed before you get to the service saw. Notice, too, that at the top of the bookcase, as a safety precaution, the left and right panels extend beyond the top shelf.  I am happy to report that we never had anything fall off of the top shelf. Step 2:  Assemble the bookcase. Lay out the left and right vertical panels with the shelves in between and mark the wood for predrilling wood screw holes.  All of the screws should be counter sunk so that once attached, the screw heads can be hidden with wood putty.

1.  Predrill holes in the shelves so that the shelves can be attached to the furring strips (in step 3).  The photo below is a simulation to illustrate predrilling holes in the shelves.


2.  Predrill holes on the outside vertical panels so that wood screws can go through the panels and attach into the shelves.  The photo below is a simulation to illustrate predrilling and insertion of the long wood screws through one of the end panels.


Once the holes are predrilled in the shelves and the left and right vertical panels are attached to the shelves, the unit is ready to install on the wall. Step 3:  Attach furring strips and assembled unit to the wall. Originally, this unit had only furring strips under each shelf.  This is why the furring strip under the shelf is black and the one sitting on top of the shelf is raw wood.  The second strip was just added as the trim out for this project began. IMG_1935 Use  BOLTS…. to secure one furring strip to the wall.  My unit is 43 inches wide and I used three huge bolts per furring strip.  And, I tried to gauge the bolts so that I would hit a stud as often as possible. Caution...must begin with the furring strip at the very bottom… the one that will sit on top of the baseboard.  If not, there is no way to attach this strip once the unit is in place.  And, this strip bears a lot of weight braced on top of the baseboard and bolted into the wall.  This is how the unit floats.  The furring strip holds the bottom of the unit at the top of the baseboard. Then hang the assembled unit over the strip and secure the two together.  Screw into the furring strip through the predrilled holes in the top of the shelf.  The unit will have to be supported in place until the remaining furring strips are attached under the shelves. Immediately bolt the other furring strips to the wall and secure them to the unit.  If your measurements are exact, then bolt all of the furring strips to the wall before installing the unit.  This is much easier, but has no margin for error. The furring strip that is attached on the top of each shelf (the raw wood) is only there for securing the beadboard.  They don’t support the unit so I did not use any nails for the strips added at the top of the shelves.  I just used wood glue and made sure to keep pressure on each strip until the glue had set. Step 4:  Cut and attach beadboard to the back of the unit. I cut all of my beadboard myself.  This is because once the unit is up, it is good to measure twice…and cut once.  It is very hard to caulk in beadboard so the closer the cut, the better.  It needs to fit like the skin on a grape. IMG_0413 Then, run a bead of glue on the backside… at the top and bottom. IMG_1937 Put the beadboard into place against the furring strips and secure with tape and/or pressure weights.  My tape wouldn’t hold so I used lots of books. IMG_1938 Step 5:  Sand rough parts, caulk gaps, wood putty over counter-sunk screw heads, and apply primer/paint. I had to sand all of the black areas because there was a crackle finish on the original unit.  I sanded through the finish, but did not take off the color or all of the dents/dings.  A new unit will only need to be made smooth.  The unit was then wiped down with a tack cloth and primed with Zinsser 123 (water-based).  One coat covered to this see-through finish and was allowed to dry for about 24 hours. IMG_1940 Then, two coats of Behr Premium Plus Ultra Primer + Paint in Semigloss were applied.  The first coat was allowed to dry for at least 24 hours before the second coat was applied.  Then, the unit was allowed to cure for about a week…until the paint was no longer tacky (sticky to the touch). Step 6:  Apply wax to shelves. After the unit was cured, a very thin coat of Johnson’s clear wax was applied to the top of the shelves, but not to the entire unit.  The wax dried for about 5-10 minutes and was buffed with a clean, soft cloth. Step 7:  Add accessories and enjoy.


Next time, we’ll look at how I accessorized this very special bookcase.

Until then…

Happy building,



  • Reply happylaughs January 16, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    HA! Susie, I found you. Excited to be following your blog. I have been blogging for a year and a half, I have a very small following and I love them all. Its been so fun.

  • Reply Jim January 16, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Good job!

  • Reply Phoebe January 16, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Great job, Susie!

  • Reply Nancy Aschenbeck January 16, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    Great job!

  • Reply Morgan January 16, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    I live in college apartment and found your post very inspiring. Great pictures.

  • Reply Madison January 16, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Very fun and creative way to bring a room to life.

  • Reply Mia January 16, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    Can you give some ideas for a teenage girl’s room? You make this look so easy.

  • Reply Mia January 16, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    I have a nephew that is totally into lego’s. Great way to display your hobby whatever it is.

  • Reply Seth January 16, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Love your blog.

  • Reply Esther January 17, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Your attention to detail is amazing. All that sanding sounded like a lot of work but obviously worth it in the end. 🙂

  • Reply Gail574 January 17, 2015 at 5:33 am

    Susie, I love your blog! Your son is one blessed young man to have a mother like you. You can tell you put so much love into redecorating his bedroom. I love so many of your ideas & wish my son still lived at home. I would have my husband do some of the things you’ve done. I’m sure he would love your instructions!! You lost me at “furring strips”! LOL God bless you & keep up the good work!!

    • Reply thechelseaprojectblog January 17, 2015 at 5:42 am

      Thank you so very much. A room redo at the college age was difficult. I considered just making it a guest room, but then it wouldn’t be his room anymore. And, since one of my quests is to repurpose what I have…it only made sense to use spare parts. More projects are coming that won’t be as labor intensive. I tried to just be clever with items in new ways. I Hope you can follow along and send questions. If you have something you would like to repurpose, we can just think about that, too. Thx again for your very kind words. I am inspired to do more and share more because of them. Bless you and your family.

  • Reply Pat F January 18, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Love your tips and attention to detail, such as “when you go to the home improvement center take the measurements with you…. they may cut the strips and lumber for you.”

    It’s obvious you enjoy sharing your knowledge. Keep it up!

    • Reply thechelseaprojectblog January 20, 2015 at 1:10 am

      Thanks, Pat F…..many folks are not aware of this helpful service. It makes DIY so much easier. Thanks for your comment and for visiting the blog. Hope you will come back again soon.

  • Reply How to Personalize a Bookcase with Accessories | The Chelsea Project January 20, 2015 at 1:13 am

    […] In Round Two, this floating bookcase was built and finished … […]

  • Reply DIY Wall Ledge – Part I – The Build | The Chelsea Project January 23, 2015 at 12:18 am

    […] Girlfriend and I were talking about one of my recent posts that explains how to build a bookcase (instructions here).  In passing, she says, “I just love the bookcase and maybe somebody else can build […]

  • Reply Pantry Makeover: How to Find More Light and Create New Storage Space – The Chelsea Project February 9, 2016 at 7:28 am

    […] directions for the shelving unit are thoroughly explained in one of my earlier posts.  (Link is here)  About ten photos are included on the post that illustrate the […]

  • Thanks so much for your comment!

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.