DIY Arched Bookshelves

Update: Welcome, D*S readers! If this is your first time visiting my site, you can read a little bit about me here. I hope you look around and decide to stay a while! By way of a quick introduction, here are a few of my recent projects:
- DIY Sputnik chandelier
- Antique dresser as a kitchen island
- Heirloom Button Art

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Remember this post where I shared my love for arched bookshelves?



We decided to put a wall of bookshelves in my office, so it would sort of feel like a library. We already had two white Billy bookshelves from IKEA, so we bought two more for $50 each, and then eight $10 extender shelves, so that the shelves would go up really high. I wish we could have gone all the way up to the ceiling for the true 'built-in' look, but the rafters in our loft made it tricky.

This is the super sad before photo from the week we moved in:



And now:



It was a crazy-easy project! (I know I always say that, but it's true!) Here's the break down:

I went to Home Depot and had four pieces of 1/4" thick MDF cut in to 14" x 32" rectangles. While I was there I also picked up three 8' lengths of 1/4" thick x 2" wide and two lengths of 1/4" thick x 1" wide flat trim moulding.


When I got home I sketched out my first arch one of the MDF pieces. If you're not comfortable with measuring out and eyeballing this step like I did, you can use a flexible curve to give you a more exact curve.

To get arches that look like mine, the top of the curve should be about two inches from the top of the MDF rectangle. No matter how high your arch is though, you'll need the bottom edges to be 1" wide.



If you are new to the world of electric wood cutting tools, I think the jig saw is a good place to start. I have this $30 model and it works great. My advice here is to go slow and cut carefully. If you start to move off your line while cutting, slowly readjust back to your line. The goal is as smooth a curve as possible, so try not to jerk back to your line.


I used that first cut out arch as a template for drawing my other three arches. It was an easy way to make all the arches identical.


After all the arches were cut out, I hand-sanded the arches a little, just to smooth out some imperfections. I love those big double wide sanding blocks! They last forever.


Michael helped me hold up the arches while I drilled in a few pilot holes and some dry wall screws. It's a good idea to really get those screws in flush with the MDF or even counter-sunk so you can't see them later. We installed the flat trim in the same way.

The idea is that the 2" wide flat trim covers where the bookshelves butt up to one another. The 1" wide flat trim is for the too far ends of the bookshelf walls.



I used white latex caulk to fill in the holes from the screws and to fill in the cracks.





We've had two of these Billy bookshelves for like six years or something (you can see when I first painted them peacock blue here), but the other two shelves and all of the extenders needed to be primed and painted.



IKEA laminate is HORRIBLE to paint. It's seriously like paint-repellant. It took me three coats of primer and three coats of paint+primer to get full coverage on just the backs of the shelves.

It was worth it though. I love the contrast! The dark green, almost black, paint really makes the crisp white arches pop.



We let the paint dry for a day or two and then started filling the shelves with books.



It's all pretty loosely arranged right now, but I'm cool with a work in process.



My husband loves books more than just about anything and I have a pretty big collection of books myself. So this was a really fun project for us to work on together. He's a big fan of the arches and it's fun to finally have a wall of shelves big enough to store all of our books.



P.S. If you're curious how I hung the art on the fronts of my shelves (without damaging the wood!) check out my post on Babble today.

PPS In yesterday's Babble post I shared my secret weapon for productivity: Teux Deux!

100 comments:

Tanya @ Lovely Greens said...

They look absolutely gorgeous! Well done :)

Katy said...

That is crazy...I love them! It is also nice to see someone who actually has books on their bookshelves. I think all too often people have a tendency to over-style them.

Sara said...

wow, that is awesome! it looks easy to do ... and the finale is great.

Bridget said...

This is brilliant! And the finished result looks so good.

Amanda @ Heart Tree Home said...

Aawesome post... They look fantastic! I love arched bookshelves and if I had the need for any in my house I totally would modify some cheap-o Ikea ones :-)

For the Love of a Cottage said...

I have always wanted arched bookshelves. Yours are beautiful. Thank you so much for the step-by-step instructions. I must post a link on my blog!!

Sadie + Stella said...

This is a great transformation. Fabulous project!

www.sadieandstella.blogspot.com

Andrea said...

You never cease to amaze me! What a fantastic DIY project.

Jules said...

Jenny = BRILLIANT! Oh my you are a smartie pants, you little stinker you. 90% of us out here would never think of doing that, but look at how dramatically it upscales your "library". Love, love, love!

Rachel said...

LOVE THESE! Although I do wonder, if you move, does this mean you have to leave them behind? It seems like a tricky project to take apart if you move. :) Love that you were so persistent with painting--- way to go!

Ashley @ A {Blonde's} DIY Life said...

I love that Idea!! They look fabulous! I'm also off to check out that $30 jigsaw!!

Sara said...

Fantastic!!! I am completely in love.

Mrs. DeVore said...

LOVE this! What a fabulous idea!

Jennifer John said...

That looks wonderful!! I have some arched bookshelves at my home. I have GOT to paint the backs dark! Love!

Jennifer

lgrecreated said...

I love these, they look great.

lgrecreated said...

I love these, they look great.

Tulip and Turnip said...

WOW! That looks amazing and so custom! You make it look so easy.

Anonymous said...

This is incredible! WOW!

Brigitte said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brigitte said...

Seriously amazing post. Your blog remains my favorite since I found it two years ago.

Corey @ Learning Patience said...

Excellent - they look fabulous! How creative and it looked super easy! xoxo from Trinidad

Kelly @ View along the way said...

What a simple project for a GINORMOUS impact! I agree with Katy's comment that it's refreshing to actually see... books... on your bookshelves. :)

Naomi said...

This is amazing, you did such a great job!

Cathy Wall said...

Absolutely amazing...to take a tried and true classic like the Billy and create such a masterpiece! Fabulous!
Cathy @ Room Rx

Angela said...

Lovely! Great job and your blog is filled with so many inspiring projects!

Lizzie said...

Wow, how do you do all of these projects? Quite amazing and inspirational! I usually take a quick look at your posts, but I spent a few minutes looking through several of your posts a couple of days ago. I love your place, especially the yellow door and your black bookshelves with pink/coral inside.

Anne said...

Jenny, this looks fantastic! Great work, as usual :) And you are so cute in your red pants working hard :)

nic ole said...

I think the shelves look awesome. Perhaps a little unfinished on the top though, I would suggest adding a bit of moulding, like these: http://www.midwesthomemag.com/media/Midwest-Home/September-2008/Rooted-in-Tradition/bookcase.jpg

Just a suggestion!

michelle hoard said...

they look awesome! would LOVE to know the paint color in the back of the bookcases! thanks!

{hooked on hickory} said...

what a difference! that looks awesome! i'm working on my built in's as we speak and this wouldn't be a bad idea for down the road. thanks for inspiring!

ashley

Elizabeth said...

This is so fabulous! Once again a project that is beautiful and afforbable. Your office looks great!

Deb said...

You are bomb, girl friend!

Kate {domestikatedlife} said...

They look phenomenal! I can't believe they're from Ikea

Kelly@Bungalow Blue said...

It looks AMAZING!

Courtney said...

a-MAZ-ing!

Jill said...

Jenny, this is amazing and I love it so much! I'm jealous you have a place to put all your books! It's almost unheard of to be able to do such a thing in a NYC apt! Kudos! It's looks fab!

Collections said...

This is pretty incredible. The before and after is shocking. You're insanely creative!

Fashionable Collections

Julia's Bookbag said...

Ok this is just flat out AMAZING. And looking at that last photo, I have to say, you a some kind of color combining GENIUS -- so many pops of lovely color, nothing fights or looks too much -- PLEASE give us the whole apartment spread soon, I want to see how the whole space flows together sooooo badly! :)Melissa

Catherine said...

Wow! Fabulous transformation! Thank you for the wonderful inspiration!
Best,
Catherine

Lexanne said...

I love this! Such inspiration for me as I'm working on my home office now. I'm also curious in un-assembling these as we are anticipating a move within 2 years.

Jen West Design said...

You kill me.

Amy said...

Are you kidding me? This is amazing.

Lindsay said...

Wow!! Totally inspired to transform my Billy book shelves. Looks amazing!!

courtneyoutloud said...

Stuff like this makes me angry...angry that I can't do it in my own home and you aren't my best friend who I can con into helping me recreate my own !!!

Beautiful!!!!!

Erika Ward said...

I bow down, Jenny! I cannot believe how great it looks. I'm sure your husband just stares in wonderment!

christi @ burlap and basil said...

you are a diy genius!! they look beautiful. i'm curious what brush/roller you used on the bookshelves. i've only rolled an ikea piece and i hated it because it came out textured and i wanted it smooth.

Kayla Poole said...

Wowowow! I am in awe! We have three billy bookshelves with the height extenders and I am so tempted to do this DIY. Your office looks straight out of the pages of a magazine.

Miggy said...

You're a freaking wizzard. And your hair looks awesome in that photo as well. Could you just have 1 flaw please?

Sarah said...

Jenny, you are my design blog celebrity crush. These are STUNNING! Well done!

Brooklynvt said...

Seriously in LOVE with the library you two created. It's so genius!! Wish I had a space to put something like that...amazing!!

Bri@Meyouandawiener said...

That is genuis. It looks awesome. You ARE AWESOME.

Love your pants!

SShaw said...

What a transformation! Great job.

Natty by Design said...

Uhhh…you're amazing. These bookshelves rock!

Steph @ Birdhouse said...

Those looks absolutely AMAZING! It totally changes the look of the room. Love the dark background too!

kelly g said...

truly truly awesome... LOVE these! But as a renter, like you, I wonder how you will take these with you when you move? I'm really tempted to try this but I'd hate to have to leave all my hard work behind. What are your plans?

Cassie {Hi Sugarplum!} said...

Those look gorgeous, Jenny! I just posted my bookcase makeover this week too! Added cheap molding to the top and fabric to the back. Even mounted art on the fronts of the shelves!!! Clearly your blog and ideas are rubbing off on me! :)

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi guys! Thanks for all the lovely comments!

I haven't decided what we're going to do with these when we move. I might leave them here just because I love any excuse to redecorate. :)

But truthfully, I think I could probably find the screw holes and dismantle the set to sell or take with us.

Thanks again for the comments today!
xoxo

The Vintique Object said...

Not only are the arches fantastique, but I have to say that I love the bookshelf full of books and very little else.
Camille

Maida Khan said...

These look amazing, I have yet to come across a more fabulous DIY Queen. Your blog is a great inspiration and motivation for me. Thankyou sooo much for sharing all these great details with us =)

Jordan G. said...

Congratulations on being featured on DS! I love the bookshelves. You did a fantastic job on that project!

Anonymous said...

I love that I first read this article on Design*Sponge (one of my other favorite blogs) and immediately picked out the newly upholstered chair and realized this was a Little Green Notebook submission.

My favorite blogs collide!

sarah said...

we will remember this for our forever house...way cool for the hubby's office!!

Brandi said...

It sounds like the hardest part was all the painting so I'm not surprised there. This is such a great project and looks so custom yet hardly cost a lot of money. Great job Jenny!

youresomartha said...

this is amazing! great job.

Caroline said...

You never seize to amaze me with your projects. Ikea never looked so good ;-) And now you can say something snobby and sophisticated like, "I'll be sitting by the library if you need me, dear!" LOL!!

Kate said...

amazing amazing amazing! I am totally going to do this in my living room. Ps- I can't stop reading your blog.

Rachael said...

As usual, amazing. It just looks SO good! Custom, in fact. Well, I guess they are custom now. You must plan on staying in this loft for a while?

Lindsay said...

I love the bookshelves, everything from the arches to how you've styled them. They look amazing!

Jaky said...

Jenna,that is amazing!

Whits said...

Jenny, this is insane. It looks so amazing. I think my favorite project from you yet (and that is saying a lot)

Ann said...

LOVE the arches! Very clever and totally do-able. Thank you, thank you!

Amy said...

Great job! Love that blue desk in the background of your sanding photo too!

My Notting Hill said...

Looks amazing! And, I'm also drooling over the cabinet w/wire grille that is pictured behind you when you were sanding.

Zoua said...

We'd never know you diy'd those arched bookshelves! Where did you end up storing all of your lamps?!

Where are my Mary Jane's? said...

Even my husband read this post with me. I must find the time to try something like this!

Anonymous said...

Jenny you are so cool! I have been following your blog for like a year now and I always think she can't top this project, and yet you do every time you post a DIY. Wow so awesome!!! My head is still spinning from your Ikea chandelier.

Becky:)

Kate @ Daffodils said...

Jenny-

I love the bookcases, but moreso love your recent posts. Thanks for sharing more about your family (on babble and A Cup of Jo), it makes me enjoy your blog even more. Im not sure how you do it all!

Marie said...

Really nice work! I'd love to know more about the dark red encyclopedia set on the top shelf. They look identical to a very old set I used as a child in the 70's and 80's...and just gave away! (Hope I don't regret that but you can only have so many books).

Flournoyfrance said...

You are just about the best...I have done ikea bookcases with fluted molding and I thought they were fantastic but yours are super duper...Keep up the good work ...Flournoyfrance

Anonymous said...

ha ha, and I have taken up your tool to hyper-productivity too! Tuex Duex is my new home page!!

xox

Kristen said...

they look SO great, as usual. you are so impressive!!!

Quatorze said...

Painting laminate IS a thankless job. I circumvented the problem by "wallpapering" the back of each bookcase. We also decided, since she was of a changeable mind, that we would apply the paper to a piece of smooth cardboard cut out to fit the back of each shelf so she could later pull the cardboard out and recover for a different look. she now has two sets - a summer one and a winter one. Where there's a will...

Quatorze said...

"She" being a friend of mine; hate it when I type too fast and don't proof what I have written...

katy elliott said...

Wow you're awesome. You amaze me every time come to your blog!

Nicole @ one half world said...

I cannot believe how great these look! Such a cool custom look for not that much money...thanks for the inspiration!

12 devonshire said...

This is the most inspiring before & after I've seen in ages... ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. Wow.

Mia said...

Great Project! Did you think of adding a piece of trim right at the top or a small piece of crown like the inspiration picture? I think it will make it look even more finished and built in. Love all your ideas!

Kathryn said...

Love this! I think I might need to try this on my billy's. We tricked ours out by taking the back panels off the billys and painting the wall (measured out just behind the shelves behind a dark grey. Once the shelves are anchored to the wall you cannot tell that they are missing that flimsy back piece.

Carrie said...

They look wonderful!! Thank you for sharing :)

BB said...

This is so BRILLIANT. Congratulations! They're absolutely gorgeous. You're an inspiration. :) bb

Emily said...

GORGEOUS, Jenny! Love, love, loving this DIY. Question: did you secure your Billys to the wall? I would love to try something like this but we're in a rental and I'm not sure how well that would go over. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

Brigette Olmos-Arreola said...

a-mazing! i never would have thought of such a simple solution, inspired!


flemingfiles.blogspot.com

allegra said...

oh my heck Jenny. Really?! You're too cool. These are INCREDIBLE!! How do you just whip up this stuff and make it look so designer chic??? These are my fav. bookshelves ever!

Aubrey {All Things Bright and Beautiful} said...

You never stop amazing me! These turned out so completely fantastic...I would've never known that they are shelves from ikea...incredible! I really don't know how you keep coming up with these amazeballs ideas, but keep 'em comin'! And I'm *loving* those hot red pants that you are rockin' (c:

Cote de Texas said...

beyond fabulous. i mean fabulous!!!!!! you are incredible.

Kimber and Casey said...

i am so in love!!! way to go girl!

Anonymous said...

Your shelves are pretty loaded, do you have any trouble with sagging shelves?
Rhonda

Sara said...

It could be an illusion, but it looks like your extender shelf with the Chagall book & the red comprehensive atlas might be a little warped. Check it out! This looks beautiful and it'd be terrible for something to happen to it!

Helen said...

Lovely job, the colors are fantastic. Why is the blade in the Skil reversed?

SEO Company said...

Question is not clear. WHAT top? just the horizontal piece behind the upper face frame? Is the pic what you have now or just the idea of what you want? You need to be more specific.

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