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Project

Bookcase Armoire

Introduction

To complete this project, use two store-bought bookcases with adjustable shelves. (Avoid models more than 5 feet tall because they typically have a fixed center shelf.) You may want to cover the back of one  --  one that will be the front of the armoire when closed -- with wallpaper or a higher-quality wood that's painted to match the project.

Maximize your work space by using a deeper bookcase for the side that will serve as the desk. (We used a 36-by-60-by-16-inch bookcase for the desk side and a 36-by-60-by-12-inch bookcase for the other side.)


Materials

  • Paint (optional)
  • 2 bookcases with adjustable shelves
  • Rectangular piece of wood (for desk extension): the same thickness as a shelf, 1/2 inch shorter than the length of a shelf, no more than 14 inches wide
  • Rectangular piece of pegboard (the length of a shelf with a height equal to the space between the desk shelf and the shelf above)
  • Four 1-by-2-inch boards (for pegboard frame): 2 cut to the height of the pegboard and 2 cut to its length minus 3 inches
  • Hacksaw or jigsaw with a metal blade (to cut piano hinge)
  • 2 piano hinges (1 to attach bookcases and 1 to attach desk extension)
  • 5/8-inch screws (for hinges, if screws aren't included)
  • Electric drill
  • Screws that are 3/4 inch longer than the thickness of desk-side bookcase's back panel (to secure existing desk shelf and pegboard frame)
  • Lid stay or flap stay
  • Glass-bead or other molding (to secure Plexiglas), cut into strips: 5 pieces the length of a shelf, 8 pieces 2 1/2 inches long, and 2 pieces 8 1/2 inches long
  • Hand miter saw (to cut molding)
  • Hammer
  • 3-D 1-inch finish nails (to secure molding for Plexiglas)
  • 5 Plexiglas guards: 4 pieces cut 3 inches tall and to the length of a shelf and 1 piece cut 9 inches tall and to the length of a shelf
  • 3/4-inch screws (to attach pegboard to frame; for casters, if screws aren't included; and for L brackets, if using)
  • Draw-bolt latch or flush-mount lock (for armoire latch)
  • 8 casters (at least 1 inch)
  • Two 3-inch L brackets (to attach case to wall, optional)
  • Appropriate wall anchors and matching screws (for L brackets)

Steps

  1. Step 1

    Paint bookcases, desk extension piece, pegboard, and 1-by-2-inch boards if desired.

  2. Step 2

    Using hacksaw or jigsaw, cut a piano hinge to height of bookcases. Cut the other hinge to length of a shelf; set aside for step 4.

  3. Step 3

    To attach bookcases: Determine which bookcase will contain the desk and which will have the Plexiglas guards, as well as where the hinge should be placed to join them. Place the bookcases on their backs, side by side, shelves facing up. Place the hinge on the seam between them. Predrill holes through one side of hinge and along edge of one bookcase, making one hole near the top, one at the center and one near the bottom; insert 5/8-inch screws (or included screws) to secure. Repeat on edge of other bookcase. Predrill the remaining holes on both sides of hinge, and secure with screws. Stand joined bookcases upright.

  4. Step 4

    To create desk extension: Using hacksaw or jigsaw, cut along the back edge of the center shelf to remove 1 inch from the width. Position the shelf in bookcase. Working from behind the bookcase, predrill holes where the shelf meets the back panel. Secure the shelf to the back panel with screws that are 3/4 inch longer than the thickness of the back panel. (You'll need a second person to secure the shelf against the back panel as you drill.) Place one side of the previously cut piano hinge along back edge of desk extension. Predrill holes through the hinge, making one hole at the right, one at the center, and one at the left. Secure with 5/8-inch screws (or the included screws). Predrill the remaining holes, and secure with screws. Align the other half of the piano hinge with the front edge of fixed center shelf. Repeat predrilling and drilling procedure to secure other side of hinge. Attach the lid stay or flap stay, following manufacturer's directions.

  5. Step 5

    To secure Plexiglas guards: Create two rows of U-shaped molding that will run along sides and bottom of Plexiglas. Starting with the top shelf, place one shelf-long piece of molding about an inch from the front edge of the shelf. Using hammer, secure molding to shelf with 1-inch finish nails about every 6 inches, or where necessary. At each end, place one 2 1/2-inch piece of molding vertically. Secure to bookcase. In front of this existing piece, create another U-shape of molding, leaving just more than 1/4 inch of space in between for the guard. Repeat this procedure for the 3 middle shelves. For the bottom shelf, use the 8 1/2-inch molding as the vertical pieces. Once all the molding is in place, paint it to match the bookcase if desired, and let dry. Insert the Plexiglas guards between each pair of molding.

  6. Step 6

    To attach the pegboard: Arrange 1-by-2-inch boards in a rectangle to match dimensions of pegboard. Set the pegboard on top of the rectangular frame, and secure it to boards by drilling 3/4-inch screws through the preexisting holes, in each corner and at top and bottom center. Fit the pegboard against panel behind the desk. Working from behind the bookcase, predrill holes where the top and bottom lengths of the pegboard frame will meet the back panel. Secure the frame with screws that are 3/4 inch longer than thickness of back panel. (You'll need a second person to secure the middle of the pegboard against the back panel as you drill.)

  7. Step 7

    To install a draw-bolt latch or flush-mount lock outside the armoire: Close the bookcases. Predrill holes where the clasp will be affixed. Secure in place using the recommended screws and a drill.

  8. Step 8

    To attach casters: Lay attached bookcases on the floor on their backs. Using a pencil, mark the bottom of each bookcase where the casters (4 per bookcase) will be placed. Place each caster about 2 inches from the corners. Predrill holes, then secure each caster with 3/4-inch screws (or the included screws). Stand the joined bookcases upright.

  9. Step 9

    To affix desk side of bookcase to a wall (optional): Mark location of each L bracket on wall, making sure to mark the holes. The horizontal part of each L bracket will be attached along the case's top edge, 2 inches from the right and left sides; the vertical part of the bracket will be flush with the wall behind the bookcase. Insert wall anchors, and secure bracket to wall with screws. Position case so it is flush with wall or against baseboard. Predrill holes through bracket into case's top. Secure with 3/4-inch screws.

Source
Martha Stewart Living, April 2008

Reviews (32)

  • Tszuji 12 Jun, 2012

    An ingenious use of bookshelves to create a very stylish and inexpensive piece of storage furniture you could use for all sorts of bits and pieces.

  • Tszuji 12 Jun, 2012

    Fabulous ingenious storage idea!

  • southerngallery 19 Feb, 2011

    For a picture of the front, go here:
    http://ayoska.wordpress.com/2008/03/13/diy-idea-armoire-from-2-bookshelves/

  • nina131 3 Feb, 2011

    UTAHGIRL: You could simply attach sliders to the bottom, or casters. Just before you put it all together lay each piece on its side and attach the same casters/sliders to all eight corners

  • skategirl 5 Jan, 2011

    This would be fantastic for shoes!!!!

  • blondebobbi 17 Sep, 2010

    I would love to see what it looks like, closed.

  • utahgirl 15 Jul, 2010

    ok so i was wondering if it is possible or easy to make them and put it on carpet if so is there like a tip or something i can use to make it easier??

  • redheaded1 18 Apr, 2010

    This is a fantastic idea and as pictured, beautifully executed.I think, however, that this is complicated enough that good photos of all the pieces, and all the steps, should have been included. The written instructions are good, but photos would have helped. Also - crucial to do this with real wood as CarolDHughes suggested.

  • Monicaochoa 16 Mar, 2009

    this is a great idea pof people (me) with tiny spaces... thanks...

  • ivahays 28 Nov, 2008

    Great idea can be used adult style. Cut out an area for electrical cords and have access to power via a serge protector/6 strip. Then a desk light could be added, lap top, craft project tools. Garage handy too for light tools, garden supplies, all can be locked for protection.

  • amy1963 27 Nov, 2008

    love it

  • SOMERSIZING 20 Nov, 2008

    IS THIS A GREAT IDEA OR WHAT. I HAVE THE PERFECT PLACE FOR ONE. WILL PRINT IT OUT AND SHOW DH TODAY. LOL

  • gemdenoel 4 Oct, 2008

    was thinking of shelf that extends out- why not consider the change table addition they offer in ikea. or look in the desk or kitchen departments to alternate shelf depth.

  • JerseyCook 15 Sep, 2008

    You have to love places like IKEA for bookshelves like this. Unfortunately most of what I have been finding does not have shelves deep enough for what I want. All in all though, this is a great idea.

  • adrienneweyers 13 Jul, 2008

    I ran into the same problems. It is just not as easy as going out and buying 2 bookcases. So my father and I made them. They are great storage and the hold a ton of stuff. I will try to upload a picture of the one we did. It really does take a bit of thinking every little detail through completely.

  • QCLADY 5 Jun, 2008

    I would buy one if I could find it! I am not handy!

  • ldevalkenaere 29 Apr, 2008

    I would suggest finding a unfinished furniture store in your area. In Wisconsin, there's a place that used to be called Naked Furniture. They can turn a bookcase into just about anything! They made me my bookcases at a very reasonable price.

  • ldevalkenaere 29 Apr, 2008

    I think they now go by the name of Unpainted Furniture or something like that. The bookcases may cost a little more, but it's worth it for the quality.

  • Tamogenesilva 11 Apr, 2008

    I am not that crafty, I had two back surgeries , you should see my mess. you would be shocked! I need something like this. Anyone want to make me one.LOL

  • stillupcooking 10 Apr, 2008

    My husband built me a similar unit using large plywood sheets. He added casters on both bookcases and pegboard on the outside. When it was open, the L shape formed a partition and contained 8 shelves for toy storage. When the unit was closed, the top served as a sign-in counter for parents and the one of the bookcase sides had pegboard with hooks for preschoolers to hang up their jackets and bags while the other side was a display for preschool art.

  • caroldhughes 9 Apr, 2008

    ps - I'm a designer

  • caroldhughes 9 Apr, 2008

    I would be very leery of using anything other than real wood.Particle board/laminate (besides being very heavy) is very apt to crumble when screwed into.You will be very disappointed to buy 2 bookcases only to find that you can't complete the project.As well - be cautious about the bottom of the case. If the base isn't solid - then your caster may be too small - and especially if you end up with laminate/particle board - the bottom shelf of the book not be able to support its weight on casters.

  • oakleydog 29 Mar, 2008

    You can get the bookcases at any store. The measurements are included in the instructions. I bought some at walmart.

  • vduback 28 Mar, 2008

    Does anyone know who makes the wallpaper?

  • lucyfish 27 Mar, 2008

    Also, EVERYTHING on that page is listed in the resource guide except the dumb bookcases!!! I'm still trying to figure out where to get them...

  • lucyfish 27 Mar, 2008

    Also, EVERYTHING on that page is listed in the resource guide except the dumb bookcases!!! I'm still trying to figure out where to get them...

  • lucyfish 27 Mar, 2008

    Paint colors (per resource guide):
    Outside of cabinet=Dunmore Cream, high gloss
    Interior of cabinet=Pink Powder Puff
    from Benjamin Moore Paints

  • LaurCar 26 Mar, 2008

    Perhaps the bookcases are from Ikea?

    I would like to know as well. Did anyone check the resource guide in the magazine?

  • lucyfish 24 Mar, 2008

    Anyone know where you can find plain bookshelves like that? I've been looking all over...maybe in the wrong places?

  • MissyScott99 24 Mar, 2008

    Does anyone know the paint colors? I'm in love!!

  • susieholloway 11 Mar, 2008

    This is fabulous! My daughter and her husband are buying their first home in Princeton, WV. She makes jewelry in her spare time to sell at local craft fairs. When I received this months issue in the mail and glanced through it, this is the first thing that I saw. PERFECT for her tools, boxes, books and beads. Thank you so much for the easy instructions and wonderful idea. Keep up the good articles and information!

  • susieholloway 11 Mar, 2008

    This is fabulous! My daughter and her husband are buying their first home in Princeton, WV. She makes jewelry in her spare time to sell at local craft fairs. When I received this months issue in the mail and glanced through it, this is the first thing that I saw. PERFECT for her tools, boxes, books and beads. Thank you so much for the easy instructions and wonderful idea. Keep up the good articles and information!