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How to Make a Laminate Bookshelf Look Custom

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We’re in Week 3 of the $100 One Month One Room Challenge and my office/craft room is starting to resemble something other than the town dump. Hooray for small miracles, right? After spending the first week doing nothing but cleaning, selling and donating items, I spent this week trying to figure out the layout.

March challenge graphic

The room is filled with laminate shelving units that I’ve either been given or have picked up for cheap at yardsales. They’re all mismatched, but for the most part they’re all white so they look somewhat cohesive.

Except for this behemoth that I kept tucked back behind the door so no one would see it.

before of a generic laminate bookshelf

After selling about half of everything you see on this bookshelf, and organizing the rest, I was left with this.

before of a laminate bookshelf

A solid, heavy-duty bookshelf that offered me more storage than any other piece of furniture in this room. It was ugly as sin, but I knew I couldn’t get rid of it because I needed the space.

So I decided to try to pretty it up a little and help it fit in with all the other white pieces I have in this room. There are lots of tutorials out there for how to make a laminate bookshelf look custom, but since Pinterest has been throwing a hissy fit this week and not working… I just kinda winged it.

I have a pile of baseboard in the garage that we tore out during our renovation. (Side note: I think every post I’ve written for 3 months mentions “I saved … from during our renovation”. I’m sorry. I know it’s getting old. But I literally saved almost everything. And now my husband keeps mentioning that I should probably use these things. So if anybody needs any baseboards…”)

So armed with some 30 year old baseboards, I started trimming out my ugly, laminate bookshelf. The first step, was to raise the bottom a little so the baseboards would sit flush with the bottom shelf. I had some scrap 2x4s in our garage (yes, saved from the renovation when we tore wall studs out), That I just pieced together on the bottom of the bookcase.

how to trim a laminate bookshelf

I predrilled the holes in the 2×4’s and and then drilled them straight into the bottom shelf.  Not only did it help raise it up, but it also gave me something to nail my baseboard trim to. Now the top of the baseboard is even with the bottom shelf rather than having a lip to it.

how add moulding to a laminate bookshelf

Then I flipped some more baseboard upside down and trimmed out the top of the bookshelf. This I made flush with the top of the bookshelf, because I wasn’t worried about it having a little overhang over the top of the shelf.

how add moulding to a laminate bookshelf to make it look custom

The only thing I had to buy was some lattice trim from the local hardware store. It was 28 cents per foot, and I got enough for both sides and the fronts of all 3 shelves. My total was $4.14.


how add moulding to a laminate bookshelf to make it look built in

It’s hard to tell in the after pictures, but it really does make a different in softening up all the straight edges that the bookshelf had to begin with.

how add trim to a laminate bookshelf to make it look built in

I added lots of wood putty to the nail holes and other spots, because 30 year old baseboards aren’t exactly pretty. Then I used some Kilz primer and white paint that we had leftover from painting our stairwell last month.

how add trim to a laminate bookshelf to make it look custom

I’m not going to lie… it wasn’t fun to paint. It took about 4 coats until it was a solid white with no shadows left behind from the dark laminate. But I think it was totally worth it!

how to add moulding to a laminate bookcase so it looks custom

It flows with the room so much better, and I no longer want to hide it behind a door! I’m sure I’ll be adding more to it as I go through my other shelves in this room, but for now I’m enjoying a day or two of seeing it all neat and organized!

I just bought these wire baskets off Amazon a month ago, and had planned on using them in the kitchen, but they looked so pretty holding my yarn and ribbons!

yarn and ribbon storage

These frosted glass jars are from IKEA probably 10 years ago. We used to have them on our basement bar filled with peanuts and Hershey kisses, but they are perfect for my washi tape, felt balls and baker’s twine. Did you see my artwork with felt balls?? I am obsessed with these things and they’re vibrant colors

craft supply storage

I grabbed an old vase for my colored pencils and a mason jar for paint pens. The colored pencils used to be hidden in a plastic box, but they’re so colorful, they’re like decoration now that they’re displayed! Plus, I always use things more when they’re in my line of sight.

craft room storage

I worked on a couple more office projects this week, that I can’t wait to show you, but this tutorial for how to make a laminate bookshelf look custom was probably my favorite!

Easy tutorial for how to make a laminate bookshelf look custom




Wednesday 22nd of March 2017

Love how your bookcase turned out! The lattice molding on the edges of the shelves is brilliant. Can't wait to see what your next project is...


Monday 20th of March 2017

It was the week of the bookcases all around! I love how yours turned out. It looks so much better than the original. (And I commiserate with you about the mismatched-but-kinda-ok-together white laminate bookshelves. I too have this "look" in my home. HA!)

Erin @ Lemons, Lavender, & Laundry

Monday 20th of March 2017

This bookshelf looks amazing. I can't even tell it's the same one. Beautiful job and awesome job with the budget.

Corinna - ADesignerAtHome

Sunday 19th of March 2017

What a beautiful bookcase! I say it's always worth saving those kinds of materials. I mean, the proof is in the pudding 😉


Friday 17th of March 2017

Very nice!!! You would never know it was an inexpensive laminate bookcase to start with!