How to Turn a Bookshelf Into a Dresser

Do you have a bookshelf that’s just gathering dust in your house? Is it an unwelcome addition to the room? If so, why not transform it into something more useful and stylish – like a dresser?

How to Turn a Bookshelf Into a Dresser

Take matters into your own hands and get creative by transforming an unused bookshelf into a stylish new dresser! Not only will it give you the extra storage space that you need, but it’s also a great way to add some personality to your bedroom.

With some crafty creativity, you can turn what once was an ordinary bookshelf into a fashionable piece of furniture. It doesn’t take too much effort or materials; plus, you get the satisfaction of knowing you designed and built something yourself. Read on for helpful tips on how to turn a bookshelf into a dresser!

What Will You Need?

Before we delve into the process, let’s gather all the necessary materials and tools. For this DIY project, you will need:

  1. An old bookshelf
  2. Dresser drawers or baskets that fit inside the bookshelf sections
  3. Paint (optional)
  4. Sandpaper (if you plan to paint)
  5. Screwdriver
  6. Screws
  7. Drawer handles (optional)
  8. A measuring tape

By assembling these items ahead of time, you can ensure a smooth and efficient transformation of your bookshelf into a dresser. Measure the dimensions of your bookshelf’s compartments to ensure your chosen drawers or baskets will fit neatly inside.

10 Easy Steps on How to Turn a Bookshelf Into a Dresser

Step 1: Clean and Prep Your Bookshelf

The first step in turning your bookshelf into a dresser is to clean and prep it. Remove any items from the bookshelf, then use a damp cloth to wipe down the entire piece, making sure to remove any dust or grime.

If you plan on painting your new dresser, use the sandpaper to scuff the surface lightly. This will help the paint adhere better. Once you’re done, give it one more quick wipe-down to remove dust from sanding. Ensure the bookshelf is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Use a Damp Cloth to Wipe Down

Step 2: Install the Drawers or Baskets

After prepping the bookshelf, it’s time to install your chosen drawers or baskets. Measure the internal dimensions of each section of the bookshelf accurately. If you use drawers, slide them into the sections to ensure they fit correctly.

You may want to secure the drawers using screws for added stability, but this is optional. If you’re using baskets, simply place them in the sections. Remember, the goal is to ensure that the drawers or baskets fit snugly within the bookshelf sections.

Step 3: Attach Drawer Handles (Optional)

If you’ve chosen to add handles to your dresser drawers for easy access and a more polished look, now is the time to do it. First, measure and mark the spot where you want to place the handle on each drawer.

Ensure that the marks are centered and at the same height on each drawer for consistency. Then, using a screwdriver, attach the handles to the drawers by screwing them in from the inside.

Step 4: Paint the Dresser (Optional)

If you’ve decided to paint your new dresser, this is the time to do it. Start by choosing a suitable paint color that matches your bedroom decor. Use a paintbrush or a roller to apply the paint evenly on all external surfaces of the dresser and let it dry according to the paint can instructions.

Applying at least two coats of paint for a more polished look is generally recommended. After fully dries the paint, you can decide whether to apply a clear, protective finish to increase durability.

Step 5: Apply a Protective Finish (Optional)

Paint Your New Dresser

If you have painted your dresser and wish to ensure its longevity, consider adding a layer of clear protective finish. This step, although optional, can significantly increase the life of your new dresser, protecting it from scratches, stains, and other forms of wear and tear.

Simply follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to apply the finish. Typically, you’ll use a clean paintbrush or roller and apply an even coat over the painted surface, then let it dry completely. Remember to ventilate your workspace well during this step, as the finish can release fumes.

Step 6: Position the Dresser

Now that your bookshelf-turned-dresser is painted, finished, and fully assembled, it is time to find the perfect spot for it in your home. Consider the dresser’s function and your room’s layout when deciding its location. Ensure the dresser is positioned in a way that it is accessible and does not obstruct the flow of the room.

Step 7: Organize Your Items

With your newly converted dresser in place, it’s time to fill it up. Start by sorting out your items into different categories. This could be based on the frequency of use, item type, or any other system that works for you. Clothes, accessories, and small items usually work well in a dresser. Once sorted, begin placing your items in the drawers or baskets.

Step 8: Customize Your Dresser (Optional)

Consider customization if you want to add a personal touch to your new dresser. Using decals, stickers, or decorative paper to embellish the exterior. Consider lining the drawers with a patterned liner for a more subtle touch. Not only will it add a pop of color, but it will also protect the interior of your drawers from potential scratches or stains.

Decorative Paper to Embellish the Exterior

Step 9: Regular Maintenance

Maintaining your new dresser is just as important as building it. Regularly dust and clean the surfaces to keep them looking fresh and new. If you notice any scratches or chips in the paint or finish, take time to touch them up.

Ensure the drawers or baskets are not overloaded to prevent wear and tear. This way, your bookshelf-turned-dresser can remain a functional and attractive piece in your home for a long time.

Step 10: Enjoy Your New Dresser

Congratulations! You have successfully turned an old bookshelf into a functional and stylish dresser. Take a step back and admire your handiwork. Not only have you created a practical storage solution, but you’ve also breathed new life into a once-forgotten piece of furniture.

Enjoy the convenience and aesthetic appeal your new dresser adds to your home. Remember, you made this transformation happen, and it’s a testament to your creativity and resourcefulness.

By following these ten steps, you can give an unused bookshelf a new purpose and elevate the aesthetics of your room simultaneously. This method not only recycles a piece of furniture but also creatively provides additional storage space. Don’t hesitate to add your flair to the new dresser and make it a real statement piece in the room.

5 Additional Tips and Tricks

  1. Consider the Weight: When converting a bookshelf into a dresser, be mindful of the weight of the items you plan to store. Bookshelves are designed to hold books, distributing weight differently than clothes or other items. If you plan to store heavy items, consider reinforcing the shelves to prevent them from sagging or breaking.
  2. Use Quality Paint: If you paint your dresser, invest in high-quality, furniture-grade paint. This type of paint is more durable and less likely to chip or wear away, keeping your dresser looking fresh and new for longer.
  3. Upgrade the Hardware: Consider upgrading the drawer handles for a more high-end look. There are many different styles and finishes available, and choosing a unique design can give your dresser character and make it look more expensive than it is.
  4. Line Your Drawers: Adding a liner to your drawers adds a decorative touch and protects the interior. Choose a scented liner for a pleasant surprise whenever you open the drawer.
  5. Check the Stability: Once your bookshelf-turned-dresser is complete, ensure its stability. You may need to reinforce the structure or adjust the positioning if it wobbles or seems unstable. Remember, safety is paramount when it comes to furniture. If you store heavy items, ensure the weight is evenly distributed across the shelves to prevent potential tipping.
Upgrading the Drawer Handles

With all these steps, tips, and tricks in mind, successfully transforming a bookshelf into a dresser becomes achievable. This project saves you the cost of purchasing a new dresser and allows you to exercise your creativity. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just looking to reuse an old piece of furniture, this guide provides a straightforward path to repurposing a bookshelf into a functional and stylish dresser.


Transforming your old bookshelf into a dresser is an easy job that requires only basic DIY skills and some items you probably have lying around the house.

Although it may feel overwhelming at first, this project on how to turn a bookshelf into a dresser might be quite rewarding and an experience you will look back on with great joy. It’s also a great opportunity to teach yourself something new, acquire new skills, and hone in on those you already have!

After all, creating something wonderful out of something old proves the adage ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ in the most literal sense, so if you’re up for it, take this chance to learn what you can do with almost anything if you put your mind to it. Best of luck and happy DIY-ing!

Photo of author

Adrian Green

Adrian is a woodworking hobbyist and has loved Woodworking since he was 10 years old. Back then in childhood, his father used to have a furniture shop. He used to help his dad and learned a lot from him about how to fix woodworking furniture, basic carpentry knowledge and also about how to work hard and take care of business. He enjoys woodworking as a hobby. He loves the feeling of creating something with his own hands, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing his finished products used by others.

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