Take an Ugly Bookcase To Cottage Charm!


I’m still in the process of transforming our living area to a cottage style,

hubs and I have been working on changing an old ugly bookcase

in to a cottage one on a very frugal tight budget!

Here’s how the bookcase looked before we started (before room painted)..


Yikes, that’s an ugly bookcase don’t ya think?

It’s missing a leg – and has absolutely no CHAR.RIC.TER, if I say so myself – but it was $30 bucks!

It was slotted to go in the hubs workroom, but never made it!

Can you believe hubs still moans under his breath about it! – Like get over it!!!

The leg was repaired and we painted it white.


We used it like this for just about a year.!!!

Me thinks it needs a “cottage” updo…

First we pulled the back off..

we found some old paneling laying in the basement.


The right side shows how it looked like before we painted it white…

Liked the varying widths of the panel…

and ruffed it up a bit with sandpaper..

Next we focused on the top of the bookcase – No cottage look here!

Wanted a “farmhouse” looking top -with a dark stain.


found these 2 FREE pieces in the basement..Way to Go… and sanded them clean….


Next hubs sawed the boards in varying widths.


To join the planks together Hubs used a Biscuit Joint cutter (very easy to use).


to make slits like this (sorry about photos)


then you just stick a “biscuit” (buy them) in the slots, use some wood glue….


and clamped together for a few hours…

We stained it with our fav stain color – dark walnut… nailed and glued to the bookcase top.


I heart the farmhouse table top look…helps to age the piece.


This is how she looks up to this point – yes that is a lot of birds – that’s another story!

OK, focus! With just those two changes she already looks a whole lot better.

Still needs a little somethin’?


A little somethin’ included trimming out the sides…


Adding some pretty scroll deets on the the front…


But her legs are just NOT doing it!

We tossed around so many different ideas.


Our inspiration came from a very charming bookcase we already have!


Hubs got to work tracing it on some leftover wood..


and nailed it to the bottom of shelf, but we didn’t like the “line” showing…


We bought this cute trim at Lowes..and attached to the bottom…


Ruffed it up a bit, and aged with a dark stain..


Pretty, and cottagey don’t ya think?


A few closeups…


love the paneled look in back of bookcase

Cottage Bookcase

Total cost – $30 bucks! The only purchased items was the wood trims (side, scroll and bottom trim). Everything else was from our scrape piles from garage and basement!

Cottage Bookcase - before and after

What A Makeover – Drab to Fab!

Cottage Bookcase Tutorial She’s not Ugly anymore! Can’t wait to decorate her!

What have you done with your ugly bookcases!


  1. says

    fabulous job. I don’t have a hubby with a biscuit maker but he has many power and un-powered tools that I borrow from time to time. working on a wooden remake from a old round patio table to a bin for my art prints to use at art festivals and art shows.
    I’m right in the midst of this and hope it turns out half way decent. sometimes my mind makes up ideas and these “Ideas” don’t turn out like I had imagined. But I will keep trying. anyway thanks for a bit of inspiration and know how from your post today

    • says

      I never expected it to turn out this good, it really surprised me. Each trim we added didn’t seem to make that much of a difference until it was completely done. Than Wow! Hope yours works out as well.

  2. says

    Genius Girl – you found a use for that old paneling that is thrown out every day (probably every hour!) This bookcase would fit in with any decor. Great job, but I really want to know the story of the birds!

    Distressed Donna Down Home

    • says

      I didn’t think the paneling would work out so well, we really use it because budget is tight right now. Don’t think I would change it out, look good just as she is. The bird story is a long one!

  3. Tammy says

    Wow!!!! It looks so nice!!! Your hubby really knows what he is doing. I love all the detail you put in to this. I also love it up against the green wall! I would say your room is coming together. I am your newest follower via Linky. Hope you can visit me sometime too:)

    • says

      It does look nice doesn’t it? I am exciting how the room is coming together, small steps turn in to a beautiful room. So worth it!

  4. says

    What an imaginative and impressive transformation. The bookcase now looks as if it isn’t even related to the before picture at all.

  5. says

    It is amazing how much difference the legs make. I don’t know if I have the patience to go from ugly to charming, but you sure did a great job.

  6. says

    I love your shelf! It’s totally cottage style and looks like something from the store..very professional job! Thanks for sharing your wonderful project at Sunday Blog Love! Can’t believe it’s the same shelf!

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