DIY Fireplace Bookshelf

In my first Five Things post, I wrote about this faux-fireplace “bookshelf” I’ve been wanting to build… yes, you heard that right. And I’m going to show you how to make your own! You know you want it.


Shea E Snider Five Things Fireplace Bookshelf
Faux-fireplace inspo via Brit + Co.

I had a lot of great ideas, mostly from Brit + Co, and of course that just means that I got started without knowing where I would end up. I knew I wanted the book space as the surrounding “mantle”, and the inside cavern of the fireplace open to hold logs or candles or something dreamily rustic like that. So, I start with some paper and numbers, and head to Home Depot. I preface all this, I kinda grew up in the garage with my dad, and the smell of sawdust and sound of power tools make me feel comfortable (#girly so kill me). People now know me there – like it or not. And I especially love Home Depot because they will cut your wood for you, and will be cheerful about it if you mark out each measurement before asking!

Construction Begins…


Fireplace Bookshelf DIY // Wonder blog //
Obviously, i didn’t quite get it right the first time… (see that pi in the center? A bad sign) Socks with these shoes are also a very bad sign, but hey, it’s a cold winter!


In reference to above, some key construction decisions I made were to:

  • joint the horizontal pieces of wood from above and below in order to better bear weight of what could be placed upon the created shelf
  • reinforce the joints with L-plates from behind on both sets of shelves (inner and outer) on the top corners
  • reinforce (and square) the bottom and top joints of both shelves with L-brackets. Simply cinch together each interior top corner. Bring the bracket from the interior middle of each vertical piece (inner and outer) down onto the base board below at the squared-off attachment spot.

Notes of notability:

  • the width between the inner and outer shelves is determined by your books. If you would like to be able to stack books horizontally within this area, I advise you leave at least 8.5″ – or better yet, measure your books. I stacked by books vertically, and so I did not build this space to specs.
  • I used some decorative wood to embellish the sizes of the outer shelves, yet this is not structurally significant. However, it did add an extra necessary length of my “mantle” and base boards for which must be accounted.

Power Tools lifestyle begins…

  1. Start by checking your paired boards for symmetry in length across the design.
  2. Assemble the top corners of each set of shelves (inner and outer), with both interior L-brackets and L-plates behind. The inner shelf will have perfectly flush corners, while the top piece might not be, as in my design (see below).
  3. After the shelves are assembled, attach these two sets of shelves to the baseboard. Measure their correct attachment spot so that each bottom corner will also be squared, and attach with L-brackets from the middle of each vertical board down.
  4. Insides are connected, tops are connected, bottoms are connected! Ma’am, you have yourself a wonderful box-in-a-box! Frills come next.

Pro tip: drilling a hole before setting a screw ensured that your wood won’t split, which happened to me during construction. 


fireplace progression

~ The pretty part of construction ~

In order to attach the decorative vertical balusters between the mantle and base board, I drilled through the top and bottle of each in order to run a screw through the horizontal boards in order to secure the vertical in place.

Upon completion of the basic construction, I realized I wanted a more substantial look to my piece. I decided to add two pieces of heavy 2×10 to the top and bottom. I simply attached these with two long screws, one one each end of the board, through the top/bottom into the horizontal pieces of the framing. I think this aesthetic decision added a ton to the look of the finished product! See more below.

After construction was complete and sturdy, I chose to attach a backboard to my “outer shelf” unit. In blunt honest, I used a big piece of cardboard from a box I had leftover from moving, and it worked great. After trimming the cardboard to size, I used a staple gun to secure it to the back of the wood.

Decorative Details!

Painting is the next big decision! And most fun! Despite having my own paint color, I decided I leave the exterior of my piece natural. My initial ideal was to paint it a crazy, fun color, and then my second idea was to paint it white, and the third to stain it a dark mahogany. So, clearly there are are many options! Think on it, choose your own combination, and remember that you can always changes colors as fast a new layer goes on (God bless paint)! Make sure to think about (or… dare I say, wallpaper?!?) the interior backboard of the piece, as well as painting the interior of the mantle and baseboard to really give the fireplace a deeper look.



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