Upcycle a Bookshelf into Mud Room Bench

We love our house. It is so pretty and because of all the additions the previous owners added, it is extremely unique. However, sometimes, the lack of functionality is exceptionally frustrating. It’s generally the small things that get to us. Like we don’t have a coat closet and our garage has a pole right in the middle. Of course, none of these things are reasons to put up the for sale sign, but they do grate on one’s nerves. Fortunately, we’ve been able to find solutions or work-arounds for most of the issues. 

One constant source of annoyance after moving into our house was where to keep shoes. Keeping all of our shoes upstairs in our closets was unreasonable. There was no way we’d take our shoes off and carry them upstairs each time we entered the house (we’re a no shoes inside household). Leaving them outside just seemed like an open invitation for something to make a home out of them. This ultimately left us with a pile of shoes inside right next the door. Not exactly what you want to see when you walk in the door. 

I tried a couple of different things. First, I bought a wire bin for shoe storage. Unfortunately, in my lack of planning, I failed to realize the wire bin would have a wire bottom which would scratch our hardwood floors. So, then I had to wrap electrical tape along the bottom of the bin. This kind of worked, but quickly became an unsightly mess of leaves, grass and shoes. 

Exceptionally frustrated with this first world problem, I began seeking out other options for shoe storage. I’ve never had any luck with the ordinary shoe storage shelves as they don’t fit heels or my husband’s shoes and if they couldn’t hold one type or person’s shoes, then what’s the point? Thankfully, one night while laying in bed scrolling through the for sale section of Nextdoor, I found a bookshelf for sale for $5. The description said the lady’s father had built this horizontal bookshelf for her son when he was little so he could easily access his books and then sit on top of it to read. I quickly messaged asking whether it would hold an adult and she said “definitely”. And so began my bookshelf upcycling project!

Excitedly, my first step (after a quick wipe-down, of course) was to paint the bench so it would match our kitchen. Luckily, the previous owners left us all of the extra paint from the house. I was able to pull out the can of kitchen trim paint and use it to paint the once red and blue bookshelf the same off-white color as our kitchen trim. This took quite a few coats as you can imagine. In hindsight, it probably would have made more sense to sand down the existing paint or apply a layer of primer, but hey, live and learn, right?

After many coats of paint and a couple of family garage painting dance parties, the bench was ready to be moved inside. We didn’t want the rough wood bottoms of the bench to damage our newly finished hardwood floors so we put adhesive furniture pads on the bottom. 

Then came the cushion for the bench. We decided to use a thin piece of MDF as the base for the cushion. I am a cheapskate at heart so rather than pay a ton of money for foam at my local craft store, I found a foam mattress cover on clearance at Target and used that instead. We cut the MDF and two pieces of foam exactly the size of the top of the bench. Then, stacked the two pieces of foam on top of the MDF and used basting spray to hold everything in place. We chose duck canvas as our cover for its durability and cut it about 6 inches larger than the MDF in all directions and wrapped it tightly around the foam cushion. We staple gunned the duck canvas in place making sure the top was smooth as we went. The cushion fit and matched the kitchen perfectly! Unfortunately, it moved every time we sat down on it or got up from it. Luckily, we had some extra grip tape for the bottom of rugs laying around. We put a rug grip tape border on the bottom of the cushion and haven’t had any problems since!

To finish off the intended purpose of the bench, I searched high and low for two containers to put in the openings. I wanted them to be opaque and not leave too much open space around the edges of the openings. After many, many days of searching and quite a few returns, I finally found these. I didn’t like the fact that they said “storage” on one side, so I just put them in backwards. With time, we ended up adding a set of hooks above the bench for coats, backpacks and hats. It now serves as our own little mud room. 

How do you handle shoe storage?  

1 thought on “Upcycle a Bookshelf into Mud Room Bench”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *