beckham + belle: diy kids bookshelf

We will have lived in this house three years next month. My daughter is six, so that means that she’s had the same room for about half her life. And half of one’s life seems like a long time to have the same decor so, naturally, she’s been itching for a bedroom makeover. (Let there be no mistake that she is my child). We’re about 80% done with the update (I’ll get pictures up eventually), but if I had to describe the new look in one word? PURPLE.

A key element of her bedroom redesign brainstorming was rethinking her storage. She is a pretty compulsive packrat (again, no mistake that she’s mine) and has accumulated a ton of junk. Good thing she doesn’t read this blog, she’d be sooooo mad that I called her stuff “junk” (but let’s be real, it is).  The shelving that she has had in her room, pictured below, is super cute and has been well used but is are more suited to picture books than the chapter books that she’s so enthusiastically moved on to. So, looking for a more appropriate book shelf, I perused around online … found this one that I liked, and that inspired it, but it wasn’t quite the right fit for the space. With a few tweaks, I think we’ve successfully recreated it to meet our needs!

The "before" bookshelf

The “before” bookshelf

This project uses the Kreg jig to attach the shelves to the frame. For someone like me, who is just handy enough to be dangerous, it’s the perfect tool and makes pocket holes painless. I have had the tool for years and highly recommend the tool to beginners and intermediate woodworking DIYers. There certainly are other ways to attach shelves, but the Kreg jig is what I use! This is the Kreg Jig model that I have, although I know there is a “junior” version available now at a lower price point, and I’ve heard good things about it!

diy kids bookshelf


2 4′ 1x12s
1 6′ 1×12 (you’ll cut this in half)
1 6′ 1×8 (you’ll cut this in half)
1 4’x4′ piece of plywood
Scrap piece of plywood for the “TOYS” sign (roughly 12″x8″)
20 pocket screws (I used 1 1/4″)
10 small nails
white latex paint (semi gloss)
chalkboard paint


Miter saw and/or jig saw
Table saw or jig saw
Kreg jig


Start with your 2 4′ 1x12s. Using your 1×8 (which is really more like 1×7.25), mark the width of the 1×8 on the 1×12. Measure down 25″ from the top of the board and draw a line connecting the two points. Cut both 4′ 1x12s as pictured below using miter and/or jig saw. Essentially, you’ll be “notching out” a rectangle.

DIY bookshelf

diy bookshelf



Next, cut both 6′ pieces (the 1×8 and the 1×12) in half. The resulting 4 pieces (2 36″ 1x8s and 2 36″ 1x12s) will be your shelves. Using your Kreg jig, drill two pocket screw holes into each side of the 1×8 shelves and three pocket screw holes into each side of the 1×12 shelves.

Line up the top shelf (a 1×8) so that it’s flush with the top of the side pieces and attach with pocket screws (pictured below). Line up bottom shelf (a 1×12), measuring about 1/2 inch up from the bottom. Attach with pocket screws.

IMG_9514 IMG_3415

Stand unit upright. Measure down from the top about 12″ and add a second 1×8 shelf. Then add the second 1×12 shelf right where the side pieces go from a width of 8″ to a width of 12″.
diy bookshelfDIY Kids Bookcase / Bookshelf

At this point, I’d recommend putting a coat of paint (or stain) on the unit so it can be drying while you prep and assemble the other parts. I painted mine white and it took 2+ coats to effectively cover up the wood (those pine knots are tough!).

Next, grab your piece of 4’x4′ plywood and cut it down to fit the back of your unit (this should be about 37.5″ x 48″but measure first to make sure it will fit). Save the piece of wood you cut off.

Paint the back piece with chalkboard paint. Two applications is ideal.


With the small plywood off-cut, cut it into strips lengthwise – approximately 2 3″ wide pieces and one 5″ wide piece. You’ll use these to partially enclose the lower shelf for toy storage.

kids bookshelf

Paint the plywood either white or whatever accent color works for you.

When the bookcase backing and plywood strips are dry, attach to the unit. for the backing, I used about 8 screws to secure it to the back of the case.

diy bookcase


I attached the plywood strips to the front (bottom) using small nails.


Next, you will want to “season” your chalkboard by rubbing chalk horizontally and vertically all over to avoid the chalkboard staining the first time you use it. Wipe it off when you’re done.



You’re almost there! At this point, I thought the unit was missing something so I added the chalkboard “TOYS” sign to the bottom part of the bookcase to give it some added dimension and interest. I made it out of a spare piece of plywood, painted it black and stenciled “TOYS” on it using some adhesive vinyl along with my silhouette machine.



My daughter is thrilled with how it turned out and has been decorating (and redecorating) her shelves since we moved it up to her room. Yup, definitely my kid.

kids bookshelf

diy kids bookshelf


diy kids bookshelf

diy kids bookshelf

diy kids bookshelf