DIY: Converting a Shoe Rack to a Bookcase

I've been having the hardest time finding bookcases to organize the mountains of books in our house. Most of the ones I find are either cheaply constructed and likely to sag under the weight of our tomes, or are priced far more than I want to spend. I've taken to scouring resale shops, hoping to find something magical and reasonably priced that will fit the bill. This past Tuesday, my 4-year-0old and I stopped into the local Goodwill, and came across an old wooden shoe rack that was in dusty, but good condition. I thought maybe, maybe it could be a bookcase, but I wasn't sure. I wandered around the rest of the furniture section, while I thought about whether or not it was worth the $19 price tag. It was sturdy. Unfinished. It had potential. And it would be perfect for storing my son's board books. I drifted back and gave it another look.


"Do you think it would make you a good bookcase?" I asked my son.

He grinned. "Can we paint it purple?"

I was sold.

We bought the shoe rack, and stopped by the arts and crafts store on the way home to pick up supplies. Spray paint would have been easier, but my son wanted to help, so I picked up some acrylic hobby paint, foam brushes, and a clear, non-yellowing varnish to give it some durability. With some coupons, it cost us just under $10 for supplies.

My son helped me apply two coats of the DecoArt Americana Dioxazine Purple paint he selected, and then I applied two coats of gloss varnish.

The paint job wasn't perfect since it was his first time trying to paint furniture, but it didn't matter. The minute he saw the finished result, he gave me a huge hug. "I love it, Mom!"


It took about 12 hours to dry completely, and then we moved it to his room to load it up with books. The shelves aren't large enough to handle the tall books, but they're perfect for board books and anything around the size of a Little Golden Book. As he gets older, it should work great for paperbacks and some hardcovers.



It turns out Pinterest has a ton of ideas on how to turn a bookcase into a shoe rack, but nothing about converting a shoe rack to a bookcase. The good news is that it's easy enough to do, though, with a little paint and time (and help, if you can get it). And for less than $30...I think it's great.