If you're in serious need of a storage solution in your apartment, crate bookshelves are a beautiful way to add more storage space without changing the layout of your place. Bookshelves make a great DIY project (even for beginners) as you only need a few wooden crates, some paint and hardware to create the bookshelf of your dreams.
What's great about making your own crate bookshelf is that you can customize it, making it as small or as large as you’d like. Regardless of which direction you choose to go, tackling this DIY project follows the same five steps that are accessible for expert craftsmen and newbies alike.
Get started by laying out how you want your crate bookshelf to look. Anything would work, but we set up our bookshelf so it would fill up an entire wall. When deciding on the right size for you, make sure most of your books will fit (since having somewhere to put them is the whole point). If you plan on painting with multiple colors or creating a pattern, deciding on your layout ahead of time also helps you understand what paint goes where.
Once you have an idea of how it should look, remove any labels from the crates and sand down any rough areas. If there are any damaged or missing slats on the crates, make sure to fix them before beginning to set up your workspace.
Prepare your workspace by placing a tarp and/or newspaper on your floor. Since you’ll be painting, it’s important that you do this in a well-ventilated room with plenty of space. Wearing a mask while painting or staining will help you avoid breathing in any harmful fumes.
Don’t wear clothes that you don’t want to get dirty, and make sure you have all your needed supplies nearby to make the process easier.
During this step, you can get as creative as you want with the types of paint and colors you use on each crate (or just skip painting altogether for an easy, rustic look). While we made ours with white chalk paint, you can use any paint or stain you wish. Chalk paint is great for projects like this because it doesn't require sanding or priming beforehand, and it leaves a matte finish. It's also very easy to mix with any color paint.
When painting, it’s best to mix your chalk paint in batches (to paint four crates, mix one cup of water, one cup of Plaster of Paris and three cups of paint). Mixing in batches helps to avoid any waste of unused paint and can help you save those leftover supplies for your next project!
Once the paint is dry, arrange your crates on the floor for assembly. We began assembling the two bottom rows of shelves on the floor and then proceeded to stack and attach each row of shelves upright against the wall.
We drilled 3/4-inch screws on the top and bottom of the inside of the crates, usually using about 8–12 screws per crate. On each row that contained three crates, we used four 1-1/2-inch screws to attach the middle crate to the crates on either side. We also spray painted the screws after assembly for a more cohesive look. However, if you want a more permanent shelf, you could also nail them directly into the wall for added support.
The final (and most fun) step of this DIY project is to fill your bookshelf with all your favorite things. You can stack books horizontally or vertically, arrange by title or color and add in fun knick-knacks. Or, you can nix the books entirely and use it to store kitchen gadgets and spices, art supplies, or anything else you have on hand.
These shelves are super customizable, meaning you can change what’s in them or their arrangement down the line. So have fun with it and enjoy the finished project of all your hard work!
Creating your own crate bookshelf is pretty simple, and the great thing about an easy project like this is how creative you can get. You could stain the crates for a more natural look or paint each one a different color to make your shelf pop, the choices are endless. Regardless of your design choice, this is a non-permanent storage solution that would work in any apartment.
If you are still in need of additional storage inspiration, check out our other articles on how to organize your home: