5 Great Ways To Turn Your Bookshelves Into Display Shelves

You’ve got a great collection that you want to put on display in your home, you have spare space on your bookshelves, now what? Read on, and find out 5 things you can do to “spruce up” regular bookshelves so that your precious collection (whether it’s airsick bags, golf balls, or your favorite pieces of driftwood) will look great.

Bookshelves are designed to hold books (I know, I know… DUH!). The problem is that they aren’t really the best shelves for displaying objects. They are thick, deep, and have limited viewing space. Since you only really need to see the spines of books, the interior part of a bookshelf is darker and less visible. A display shelf should allow you to see everything on the shelf, not only what’s on the outside edge. Here are 5 simple and inexpensive things you can do to increase the viewable area of your shelves, and turn them into great display shelves.

1. Replace the moveable shelves with glass ones.

If your bookshelf has adjustable shelves that rest on pins, simply get the measurements of the shelves and go to a glazier. They can cut glass to the same dimensions and you can put in light, clear glass shelves which will completely change the “feel” of the shelving unit. The main thing you have to be aware of though is getting glass designed to withstand the stress. Explain to the glazier what you want to do, and ask to get shelf brackets that fit into the holes of the vertical supports of the bookshelf instead of the pins that are there now.

2. Install lighting underneath each shelf.

You can get inexpensive fluorescent lights from most hardware stores. Buy small, flat units and wire them together so that they are controlled from one switch. Drill small holes in the back of the bookshelf for the wires, and mount the lights on the underside of each shelf. This way, with the flick of a switch you can light up the darker parts of the shelves, and make your whole collection more visible.

3. Install mirror backing.

Measure the back, vertical part of the shelf, and then buy mirror and glue it to the back. This will reflect the back of your collection, and make the whole shelf feel much deeper, while it also will highlight all of the items on the shelf.

4. Paint the shelves a different color.

If you want to draw attention to your collection on display, consider painting the shelves a different color. If the whole unit is a wood texture, think about painting the display shelves white. This will offset them from the rest of the unit and highlight the collection on them. The color of the shelf depends very much on what type of collection you’re displaying. Bright and shiny objects (quartz rock, glass figurines, etc.) might go better on a darker background, while model cars would look better on a lighter background. Think about it!

5. Wood lettering and other decorations.

A great way to spruce up your shelves is to add lettering around the frame to personalize it. Here’s an example. You can purchase simple wood or plastic letter in many colors, and glue them onto the frame. So above a collection of golf balls you can put up “FORE!” or something to that effect. This will serve to draw everyone’s eye to the shelves, and to your precious collection.

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