The Macs » Blog

“built-in” bookshelves

I get emails about my built-in bookcases all the time and have always meant to write a post about them. After my sister’s baby shower I finally took a few pictures. The room looked so spacious and clean with all the toys and furniture moved out. It hasn’t looked like this since. I loved having the white rocker in my living room. I wanted to keep it there but it belongs in Griffin’s room and I got tired of sitting on the floor in the middle of the night. 🙂  Everything is back where it belongs now and toys are scattered everywhere but I will show you these pictures because you can see the bookshelves better…and it is prettier. Let’s just pretend it always looks like this…it doesn’t. 🙂

So…my built-ins aren’t really built-ins. But I’m glad so many people think they are! That is what I was going for. They are three Expedit bookshelves stacked on top of each other. The bookshelves are sitting on a base that my awesome brother built for me. I had some pictures from when he was building the base but I couldn’t find them. I’ll add them later if I can. He basically built a box for the bookshelves to sit on and trimmed it out with the same quarter round that goes around our baseboard. Then I painted it white. I love how they look and it was much more affordable than actual built-ins. Thanks, Matt!

This is how they look from the side.

I wanted these bookshelves to be pretty but they had to be functional too. We don’t have very much closet space in our house so we have to be a little creative with the furniture we buy. The main goal for the bookshelves was to {obviously} hold books and to hide all the toys. All of our books and magazines are on the top two shelves. The rest of the shelves are mostly for the kids. The boxes now hold art supplies. The “rainbow” books are all books that I read with the boys. Levi can pull up a chair and get down the ones he wants too. And then his mama puts them back in rainbow order…because I am nerdy like that.

I love crayons, don’t you?

Even my little Cora doll has a spot.

Crafty books and bakers twine. Joel gave me a box of bakers twine for Valentines Day a few years ago. It was all his idea. One of the best gifts ever. The #3 was a gift from my sweet friend when Griffin was born.

More books held in place by a happy hippo. M for Mac. 🙂

The baskets are full of the boys’ toys…lots of tractors. I use one of the baskets to hold diapers too.

I love that the bookshelves are organized, pretty, and get lots of use. The boys pull out the baskets and dump out their toys everyday. And when I am tired of seeing the toys we just put all the baskets away and the shelves look pretty again…unless I am too tired and then the toys just stay on the floor. 🙂  It works for us.

  • Selina - DO your shelves have backing or is it open?

  • Deborah Raney - This may be my favorite post of yours ever! I love your bookshelves and your attitude about them and the way they work for your family. So special that your brother built the base too. That was brilliant. Loved seeing all the photos. I think we need a complete tour of your house (if you’ve done one before, I missed it, and I’ve been reading your blog for a while.)ReplyCancel

  • Kristi - What a great idea!! I have my eye on the expedeite shelves for our downstairs. I will have to show this to my husband to see if he would like to build a platform for ours. I love your decorating style as well!!ReplyCancel

  • Kristen Perreault - Thank you so much for posting this!!!!! Just this week my husband and I were talking about how to make our expedite bookshelves appear to be more like built-ins 🙂 We were talking about somehow altering the shelves in the back to make them flush against the wall but I definitely prefer adding the platform on the bottom instead! Thanks again, btw- great job Joel on the box of bakers twine and I also love the mirror that you have hanging what a nice touch up there!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - I love the bookshelves and the pops of color throughout the room! You have such a great, streamlined style. More room tours please!!ReplyCancel

  • Andrea @Mama in the City - It really does look fantastic and I love using baskets to tuck away toys and diapers too! Can you tell me about the name/ABC prints on your wall. Where can I get them!!ReplyCancel

  • Jennifer R. - I love the alphabet prints next to the bookshelf! Where did you get them?ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Selina-They are open in the back but are flush with the wall so nothing can fall behind them.ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Andrea & Jennifer-The ABC prints are from Penny Paper Co…www.pennypaperco.comReplyCancel

  • Laura - I love, love, love this!! I have been trying to think of ideas to add more storage to our living room, and looking for ways to hide the toys. This may just be perfect!ReplyCancel

  • Emily K - Love this idea!! Question: do you have them
    all attached somehow? I’d worry about the top
    shelf toppling. Thanks!!ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Emily-Yes, the are all screwed to the wall with the hardware that came with the shelves.ReplyCancel

  • creole wisdom - It looks amazing Jess. I love that your brother made the base, how sweet of him. Can he come to my house next? I have an expedit on legs in my office/studio area and love it. I’ve thought of maybe stacking it with another so it’s nice to see how that look.

    And way to be smart to have them anchored to the wall 🙂 My aunt almost was seriously hurt when her giant sewing cabinet fell on her. Tall shelving/cabinets without anchors make me nervous.ReplyCancel

  • tara - SUPER cute!ReplyCancel

  • Emily K - Good to know about the included hardware. One more nosy question – where did you get those perfect baskets ? At Ikea or elsewhere? Thanks 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jess - Emily K-The baskets are from IKEA…the link is in the post.ReplyCancel

  • Jody R. - I think I’m totally stealing this idea. I’ve been trying to decide on a bookshelf to make, but I also needed something to help with toy storage for my 3 year old niece’s toys, as some of them are kept in my living room. I also want something that wasn’t too deep.ReplyCancel

  • Jennay - Love this idea!! Looks wonderful!!ReplyCancel

  • Mel - I love this!!! What a beautiful room. Such a fun shelving unit. I love everything about it! So inspiring:) thanks for sharing!!ReplyCancel

  • 101 Ikea Hacks - - […] Built-In Expedit Bookshelves – The Macs  […]ReplyCancel

  • Erin - Have you given any though to trim out / cover up the bookshelf to finish it off? You can see gaps/cracks where the different shelving units sit on top of each other.ReplyCancel

  • Elisa - They look awesome!

    I don’t have anyone to build a base for me 🙁 but this is an awesome idea!ReplyCancel

  • My Favorite Ikea Hacks | Casa Stephens Interiors - […] We have these all over our house and they’re extremely functional but I LOVE the way  The Macs used theirs to look like a custom built in […]ReplyCancel

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  • Carrie Nichols - so did you attach each bookshelf to get other or just to the wall? I’ve got 2 stacked for my son’s room and I’m concerned that I can’t attach them to the wall bc of the baseboard, the won’t be flush with each other. Can I attach them to get other with a bracket?ReplyCancel

    Jess Reply:

    Each bookshelf is just anchored to the wall, not to each other. We stacked the bookshelves up on a base (that my brother built) and then ran the baseboard around the base…so they are flush with the wall. Hope that helps!

    • Jess - Each bookshelf is just anchored to the wall, not to each other. We stacked the bookshelves up on a base (that my brother built) and then ran the baseboard around the base…so they are flush with the wall. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Lorene @Remodelaholic - Hi Jess,
    I just emailed you about being featured on Remodelaholic, but my emails sometimes get caught in spam filters, so I figured I’d leave a comment as insurance. Drop me a line at please!