DIY Library Shelving • AD Aesthetic

Dawn’s House: DIY Library Shelving

In Dawn's House, Home Stuff by Dawn Sailors40 Comments

Hey there! Today I thought I’d share another of my favorite throw back posts from Designing Dawn, this time about how I built my very own DIY library shelving to create the personal home library I’d always wanted. It’s one of my favorite projects to date, and was not nearly as intimidating as it might first seem. Read on to find out just how simple it was to make my library dreams come true!

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When we left off in the reading room last time, I had built a wall full of shelves but had yet to finish off the project with sanding, stain, and decor. To recap, that process consisted of buying five 2x12x12 boards from Lowes for around $19 each, having them cut down at the store to 10.5ft to fit our space, and mounting them on the wall (making sure to hit multiple studs) with shelf brackets, which also came from Lowes.

Well, I couldn’t wait to get this one done and fill up my own library, so I got them sanded with my handy little mouse (affiliate) as soon as possible, and as soon as the weather turned nice enough to give me a chance to open windows for some ventilation, staining commenced!

DIY Library Bookshelves -

DIY Library Bookshelves -

I used the same Minwax Special Walnut (affiliate) stain as on the shelves above the desk. I still really like the rich, medium-toned color, and love how it brings out the grain of the wood.DIY Library Bookshelves -

The process was pretty straight forward. I stained the top and bottom of each shelf, making sure to wipe any excess stain off the walls and brackets. Then I touched up the wall paint as needed. Once everything was nice and dry, I let the shelves air out for a few days before I started on the fun part— filling them up!DIY Library Bookshelves -

While I’m not 100% happy with the styling yet, and will probably be fiddling with that endlessly for the rest of time… at least all the books and other things are off the dining table and on the shelves where they belong. My plan is to eventually replace most of the nick-nack stuff with my ever-growing book collection, and I almost can’t wait to head over to Goodwill to browse around for even more books now that I have the extra room for them!

DIY Library Bookshelves -

DIY Library Bookshelves -

DIY Library Bookshelves -

So all in all, I’m pretty thrilled with this room now. Here is a comparison shot from where we started with this wall of shelves to where we are now:

Before & After DIY Library Bookshelves - DesigningDawn.comIt’s kind of amazing what a difference it made. Having everything up off the floor makes the whole room feel cleaner and more modern, and having shelves all the way to the ceiling makes the space feel bigger too. Love!

This is kind of a hard room to photograph, because it’s connected to the dining room, and has the office area on one side, so in case you’re curious about how the whole space works together with shelves on two different walls, I’ll leave you with this panoramic shot I took with my phone.

DIY Library Bookshelves •

And now, I think I’ll get off the computer and go read something. 😉

*Dawn's signature

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    1. Author

      Thank you! We bought five 2x12x12 boards from Lowes for around $19 each, and had them cut down to 10.5ft to fit our space. The brackets also came from Lowes.

    1. Hey there! We placed the bottom shelf 18″ from the ground, and measured the rest of the shelves 15″ from bottom to bottom, leaving 18″ from the bottom of the top board to the ceiling.

  1. Are your boards attached to the brackets, or just laying on top? I have little boys and I want to do this, but am just wondering….Also, can you give me a link to the exact brackets on lowes website? Just so nervous, but excited!

    1. Author

      I attached them to the brackets first and then to the wall, so they are firmly attached to both. I have two little girls, so I knew climbing was a possibility. I actually tested them by having the hubby lift me up onto one of them. I sat up there for a good 2 min and they didn’t budge. 🙂 I would definitely make sure you get the brackets mounted into studs on the wall though. If you click through to my initial post ( there should be a more detailed step by step of how we got here. Here is a link to the exact brackets I used ( Good luck with your project!

  2. Hi there! Now that your’ve had them up for a while, are the boards sagging under the weight of the books at all? My hubby is convinced we cannot do open shelving because of the weight of the books, but I LOVE how these look!

    1. Author

      Thanks so much! They haven’t sagged even a little bit! I was actually really worried about that as well initially, which is why I made sure to get the two inch thick boards, rather than a one inch. They are very sturdy The bracket in the middle helps also. I’ve actually added quite a few more books to the shelves and they haven’t changed at all under the weight.

  3. We are getting ready to do this! Love it. I have one question for you…..the brackets are labeled for 50 lbs and the 8 inch brackets for 8-10″ deep boards and these boards are 12″ deep – is that a problem?

    1. Author

      Hi there! I’m not sure what brackets you are looking at with those specs. The brackets I used hold up to 80lbs per pair (we used three on each shelf), and are made for shelves from 7-12″ deep. I’d recommend getting brackets that are made for the specs you’re planning. Hope that helps! 🙂 (Link to the brackets I bought —>

  4. This is awesome! Working on my shelves now. Questions about the stain. Did you sand the boards down before applying anything and did you apply some type of wax after applying the stain??

    Really love yours. Great stuff!

  5. we are going to do these shelves and I really like your paintnonthe walls too. Do you remember the brand/ color of paint?

  6. Hi! My husband and I are making these next weekend! Thank you for the inspiration. What kind of stain did you use? And how much did you use? So excited!

        1. Do you think 1/2 pint will be enough? We are doing 4 shelves – same size as yours.

          1. Author

            Hmmm… I really can’t remember how much stain it took, but I suppose you could start with a half pint and just grab another one if you run out. 🙂

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  8. I love this! I’m doing this weekend and I’m wondering: did you use a wood conditioner before sanding? I haven’t stained anything in a very long time, but I don’t think I’ve ever preconditioned it, but a lot of stuff I’m reading says it helps. And did you seal it after staining? (More on conditioning: Thank you!

    1. Author

      I didn’t use a wood conditioner, and didn’t seal it after staining either. It just depends on your preference. 🙂

  9. Dawn, yours is the best guide on the Internet that I’ve found. I’ve wanted a wall-mounted library for years but been too scared my books would be too heavy. No one talks about sturdiness in as plain language as you do–I’m beginning to feel more confident!

  10. I’m interested in doing this for my place. What kind of nails did you use for the wall and brackets?

  11. I, like everyone here am in love with your shelves. I am going to make these. We love our books as well and I currently have 8 oak book shelves that are filled. These would look so much nicer. How tall is your ceiling? I’ll be measuring mine but I hope I can add one more row.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much! I’d have to measure for sure, but I think the ceiling is 8ft. A lot of newer homes have 9ft ceilings, so you might be able to sneak another shelf in there. 🙂 Good luck!

  12. Thanks for the idea! I was just about to “settle” on a couple book shelves that i wasnt happy with but couldnt think of another idea!! This worked fabulous! followed your spacing and it’s perfect! Actually had the boards in my wood pile! We’d actually transported them 1700 miles with our last move because I just couldnt let them go … they’re now a show-stopper! Thanks again!

    1. Author

      Yay! So glad it worked for you. Isn’t it amazing how much of an impact they have in a room? Enjoy your new shelves! 🙂

  13. This is the absolute bomb. I have been looking at your pinterest page on this bookshelf and I just absolutely love it! i too, like the others before me will make the same investment in my son’s room, whom has moved out years ago. I am making it a office/guess room. its absolutely stunning to me. can’t wait!!! I also thank everyone in the conversation, for it help me and shaped a few thoughts i had. Again, thank you Dawn!!!

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