Bookshelf From a Dresser

Bookshelf From a Dresser

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Bookshelf

Turn a dresser into a bookshelf


Do you have an old dresser with drawers that don’t really work or that’s just old and ugly? Do you need more bookshelves? Well I’ve got the solution for you! This project is quick, easy, and cheap. My favorite kind.

Turn a dresser into a bookshelf
I call this color uglyish brown

This dresser was left behind by the previous tenants in an old apartment I lived in about 10 years ago. I used it as it was for years and then about 5 years ago I painted it brown. I didn’t really know what I was doing then and it sure wasn’t the prettiest transformation you ever saw but it served its purpose.

Enter Pinterest.

I saw a photo on Pinterest of old drawers being used as wall shelves and thought it was really cute. I still plan to do that with the drawers left over from this project but a bookshelf for Charlotte’s books was priority. Her books are her favorite things to play with and she sits on her little rug and “reads” them for most of the day. That means, of course, that I pick them up a million times a day. The bookshelf I was using was open all around which made it really frustrating trying to stand up all the books. It drives me crazy. I plan to put it in her room eventually with the drawer wall shelves above but for now (she’s only one) I like her to play in the living room where I can see her.

The added bonus to this bookshelf is the drawer I left at the top. I use it for all the unsightly old books that she doesn’t use or are too grown-up for her.

Here’s how I did it.


  • paint (I used leftover wall paint but wood paint would be more durable)
  • primer
  • protective finish (I used Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin)
  • paint brush, foam roller, and foam brushes
  • MDF, wood or particle board for the shelves
  • 4 L-brackets per shelf plus screws (1 inch are fine)
  • level
  • more screws for bottom shelf


First you’ll want to take out the drawers and remove the tracks and anything else that may be attached to the inside of the dresser. You can leave a drawer at the top like I did or just take out all the drawers. It’s up to you! If the wood has a shiny finish or old chipped paint you’ll need to sand it a bit. Make sure the dresser is free of bumps or chips and rough up varnished surfaces with sand paper so the paint will adhere.

Measure the inside width and depth of your dresser and cut the shelves to fit. A good tip that I learned from my hubby is that you can usually have them cut your wood for you right at the hardware store which saves you a lot of trouble and mess and makes it way easier to transport home! Just be sure to measure two or three times to make sure you don’t arrive home with the wrong size and therefore wasted wood.

Attach the shelves to wherever you’d like them to go using the l-brackets, screws and a level. Make sure the shelves are level side-to-side AND back-to-front. This is important. I like to attach the brackets to inside of the dresser first, sit the shelf on them and then screw them to the shelf making sure the shelf front is flush with the front edge of the dresser.  On my dresser there was a bit of a ledge on the bottom that I was able to screw my bottom shelf to but you may need to either use some l-brackets for yours or you can just use small strips of wood as braces since they will be hidden by the apron of the dresser.

Fill in any holes leftover from the drawer slides with wood filler or drywall composite for a more polished look. (I’m not going to lie, I’m lazy and skipped this step.) If you’re using MDF or particle board you should probably fill in the front edges of your shelves before you paint them too. (I also lazily skipped this step.) Sand the edges if you used wood.

Turn a dresser into a bookshelf
Priming almost done!

Paint the whole thing (including your drawer) with one or two coats of primer then one to three coats of paint with the foam roller and/or paint brush. The inside will most likely be bare wood so you’ll especially need the primer here, otherwise the paint will soak right in and be wasted. Let dry between coats according to the instructions of your particular paint.

Using the foam brush (or the type of brush recommended for your protective finish) apply a few coats of protective finish, allowing it to dry for a couple hours between coats. You may want to change out your hardware on the top drawer too. When I refinished this dresser the first time, I spray painted some old brass kitchen cupboard knobs. They’re chipped a bit but I decided to just keep them. I think they go with the shabby chic sort of rustic look I have going on. (Some may also call that laziness.)

Once  it’s all completely dry put your drawer back in and you’re done! Happy re-purposing!

I hope this post helps you get some more attractive life out of a tired old piece of furniture. I get great amounts of satisfaction out of it myself. I’d love to see your before-and-afters too!


And the New Girls Said…

And the New Girls Said…

Well, hello there! Greetings and Salutations! Welcome! It’s lovely to meet you!

…what’s that?

Who are we?

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Well, in the most basic of answers: we are Tracy and Joc. We are sisters, we are wives and mothers, and we love to make things with our own two hands.

You will, however, allow me to wax a bit more poetic on the topic.

We are two of four very close-knit sisters. We are both married to wonderful men and we each have ourselves a small and adorable kid. We are devoted wholeheartedly to our families and to their care. This means we spend long (and sometimes thankless) hours trying to find the best way to make “healthy” mean the same as “delicious”, we like to strive for green and natural if we can, and if we think we can make something at least as good as what we can buy in the store, then we’re definitely going to try.

Despite our lofty ideals, however, we are not — and do not subscribe to the myth of — Super Moms. Our houses are not ultra-organized. Our families do not only eat organic. We did not cloth diaper our children. We suffer moments of frustration and rage and anguish and despair, just like any other parent, and we occasionally lean on the promise of a “Victory Lap drink” (you know… when the kids finally go to bed). But even though we do not belong in the ranks of Martha Stewart, we do place the highest priority on making sure our families get the best of us.

All parents have their ways of staying glued together in the face of the hurricane that is parenthood, and the reason we are not a pair of gibbering messes is largely due to the fact that we are have supportive husbands who give us time to indulge in creative outlets. We have a passion for arts and crafts and a weakness for pretty things, and if we don’t each have some kind of a project half-finished somewhere in the corners of our homes, then it’s only because we’re just about to start one. We are mostly self-taught and love the conquest of learning a new skill if we hit a roadblock, and if you’ve ever googled the phrase “How to make…”, then we will all get along splendidly.

How did we get into crafting?

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Tracy’s artistic genius shows itself at an early age.

Tracy and I came from the kind of home that facilitated craftiness: lots of kids, a stay-at-home Mom who sewed and baked and knitted a bit, and an abundance of glue, paper, crayons, and “How To” books. One of my favorite things to do when I was a kid was to pore over the pages of our “Make & Do” edition of the Childcraft series and do my best to replicate the projects therein. I also liked to try and knit (though my laborious efforts barely amounted to more than a crooked and holey square), and to sew using Mom’s old Singer that she had shown us all how to use. Baking was always something I wanted to do and pestered Mom to let me as often as I could, even going so far as to try it on my own before she was out of bed in the morning, an experiment that was never successful nor applauded. However, by the time I was eight or nine, I was turning out perfect sponge cakes and chocolate chip cookies beyond reproof. I was — and pretty much am now — a dabbler. It didn’t really matter to me what I was making; I just liked to create.

Tracy was very much the same, though her brainchildren tended to manifest more through the medium of sewing and clothing.  She always had a style of her own, wearing her somewhat outlandish combinations with an air of purple and linen, which Mom good-naturedly allowed.  Tracy’s vision was not to be tampered with, and if a well-meaning adult ever tried to help her with whatever she was doing she would stubbornly refuse their assistance, snapping, “I can do it my own elf!” And she always did.  I remember one of Tracy’s earliest projects: an angel doll that was meant to top a Christmas tree which she had made after watching a crafting TV show. Nothing daunted by their technical jargon and perfect measurements, she went with what she thought would look good.  Satisfied, she wrapped the finished project up as a gift for Mom who proudly displayed it on the tree. Mind you, her doll looked very little like the final product from the show, but for a 5 year old, I’d say it was pretty darn good. Tracy just had sewing in her blood.

These early projects and little successes (and failures) built up over the years and have amounted to a level of crafting that we are both pretty pleased with. Tracy is still the expert in sewing while I became married to knitting, and on these points we do not really cross over. I can’t sew a straight line to save my life and Tracy says she would go crazy from lack of patience if she tried to knit. While I wouldn’t call us professionals, I can tell you with certainty that Tracy has sold many of her one-of-a-kind bags and accessories and I’ve had lots of folks ask me to knit for them or teach/help them to knit. While these two may be our pet crafts, that doesn’t stop us from making as much as we can churn out of our hot little hands by whatever technique we can manage. The satisfaction of creation is almost unequalled and I’m vaguely beginning to think it might be giving me a little bit of a God complex.

So what are we doing here at Little Boozy Homemakers?

We came together here because we want to share with you our passion for all things handmade. We have decided to bring to you our little victories, our successes, our tricks for making life that much more fun or convenient. Some of the things you are likely to encounter in our posts will include (but certainly not be limited to):

  • Cooking and baking: our favorite recipes with which you can replace some of the prepackaged food that we all tend to rely on.
  • Cleaning products: greener methods for cleaning your home that will let you save a few bucks.
  • Kids and babies: everything from kid-friendly snacks and baby foods to homemade diaper wipe solution and toddler activities distractions.
  • Sewing, knitting, needle-felting: How-to’s and video tutorials on techniques, patterns and projects
  • Skin and hair care: some options more than drug store stuff using ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen.
  • Brewing and fermenting: Oh yes. We call ourselves “boozy” for a good reason.

I feel like I’ve forgotten some. But you know what? If I remember them, we will be likely to blog them and so if you read along with us, you’ll find them all out eventually.

So, dear readers, friends, fellow parents and fellow crafters, welcome aboard! We hope you find out how to do something you’ve always wanted to do. We hope you find a craft here that inspires you to pick up your needles or paintbrushes or wooden spoons and create! We hope you’ll speak up and tell us what worked, what didn’t, what kinds of things you love to make. We hope you have fun reading along with us. After all, at the end of the day, the fun is what keeps you sane… am I right?

May the craft be with you.

– Joc

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