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12 Best-Looking Refurbished Bookshelves

You found an old bookshelf at a garage sale, in your basement or on craiglist, but it needs a little TLC. Whether you use paint, stain or some creative contact paper, here's a look at 12 of the best-looking refurbished bookshelves to inspire you.

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Plaid Bookshelf

Cait Miller from Little City Farmhouse gave this old bookshelf a new look with some fresh paint. She painted a plaid pattern on the back which is a good contrast with the gray-blue color used on the outside and the shelves. Learn how to refinish furniture from a pro.

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Family Handyman

Flipped IKEA Kallax

We love this reinvented basic, ready-to-assemble bookshelf. It started out as a standard 4-shelf Kallax unit but after turning it on its side, wrapping it with plywood and adding legs, it’s so much more stylish. Here are the complete step-by-step how-tos so you can make one of these yourself.

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Metal Barrister Bookshelf

This metal bookshelf has been reimagined into a sleek and stylish design. Use it to store books along with other items you want to display. Check out these 33 bookcase projects and building tips.

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Victorian Bookshelf

This Victorian-style bookshelf was painted white for a fresh look. It would not only work to store books, but also to brighten up a dining room where it could be used to store cookbooks and decorative mugs. The beveled mirror insets add to this bookshelf’s uniqueness. Here are 12 ideas for organizing with open shelving.

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1970s Steel Bookcase

This tall, steel bookcase with adjustable shelves is refinished in lime green. If you’re looking to bring some bright color to a room, try painting an old bookcase in a bold, unexpected hue. Try these top paint colors for 2018.

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Children’s Bookshelf

This refurbished bookshelf is hand-painted and would work great as an end for a child’s bed. If you’re feeling creative, try painting animals or a fun design on a bookshelf for your child’s room. Here are 11 great DIY bed frame plans and ideas.

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Chalk Paint Bookcase

Here’s a DIY bookcase that was made 20 years ago and recently refurbished with white chalk paint. Chalk paint gives furniture a distressed and antique look, perfect for some decorating styles. Learn how to finish and protect your chalk paint projects.

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Turquoise Bookshelf

If you find a perfectly sized bookshelf that needs a little TLC, try experimenting with different paints and painting techniques. This bookshelf is finished with a bright base coat and then has a top coat in a different hue. Milk paint can give your furniture a similar look.

Photo: Courtesy of RusticFurnishings/Etsy

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Patterned Bookcase

This refurbished bookcase was finished with a rich, glossy black paint and features a patterned backing. Depending on the finishing method you choose, you can make an old piece of furniture fit in with your classic decor.

Wait, look closer. This is actually a piece of refurbished Barbie funirture! Gotcha! Here are 14 not-tacky ways to use contact paper.

Photo: Courtesy of ArtbyJillBrown/Etsy

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Shabby-Cute Bookshelf

If you’re looking for a shabby-chic project, here’s a refurbished bookshelf to inspire you. The photo is a little blurry, but we like this bookshelf because it features a light coat of paint that will work with any decorating style, and it’s a good size for a child’s playroom or bedroom. Check out these 12 awesome ideas for storing toys.

Photo: Courtesy of BettysBootiqueShop/Etsy

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Upcycled Drawer Bookshelf

With a little creative thinking, this DIYer created a bookshelf by using two drawers. It’s a perfect size for an entryway or an apartment living room or office. If you’re looking for something different, then you can even try out suspended bookshelves.

Photo: Courtesy of CreationsRedeemed/Etsy

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Hidden bed behind bookshelfPhoto: Courtesy of Brandon Dempster

Bookshelf/Bed Combo

This bookshelf wasn’t just refurbished, it was transformed! By connecting the bookshelf to a bed frame and adding casters, the bed can be rolled away into the unfinished attic space where it is covered by a wooden box, so it doesn’t get dusty! Here’s more on this clever project.

You might also enjoy making these invisible bookshelves.

Rachel Brougham
Rachel Brougham lived through a major home renovation in 2019, knows the ups and downs of home improvement, and loves sharing tips with readers. A veteran journalist of both print and television, she’s won several awards for her writing and has covered everything from the environment and education to health care, politics and food. She’s written for several publications beyond newspapers including Bob Vila, Taste of Home and Minnesota Parent, and she currently writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column. Her memoir, Widowland, about the sudden loss of her husband, was published in 2022. She specializes in everything from home decor and design to lawn and garden, product reviews and pet care. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her tending to her garden (both vegetables and native plants), playing with her dog, watching sports with her family or getting some exercise. A native of Michigan, she currently lives in Minneapolis. An avid user of Instagram, you can follow her @RachBrougham.