Looking for a before and after bookcase project? Here’s an amazing one that you can make with a little MDF and a little imagination.

before and after bookcase project

I’m all about a make-over.


So let’s say you are all about a make-over too and someone gave you a cubby bookcase like this and challenged you to transform this cubby bookcase into anything you wanted.


The sky’s the limit.

What would you do?

What about a coffee table?  Or a plate storage rack?  Or a bench?  Or a three-dimensional chalkboard?

Oh good.  That’s exactly what I thought, too.


Except I didn’t make any of those things.


…..I made it into this.

before and after bookcase project turned into a locker

I went all old school and made a locker.

If you squint when you look at it you can almost imagine standing by the locker waiting for second period to end because you were waiting for your boyfriend just in case he forgot to order your mum for homecoming and you wanted to describe it in all its glory with the extra ribbons and glitter and your name and the year and you also wanted to make sure that the mum was big.

Really big.

Oh, wait.  What?  What’s that you say? This locker reminded you of homework?


Me, too.

before and after bookcase project locker project diy

I’m not sure what made me think of a locker. I think the bookcase whispered it to me. But when I was planning out the project, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around how I was going to do it.  I was a little nervous.  And undecided.

And worried it would look like cubby bookcase with a comb-over.


How was I going to transform this…..

closet organization

inside of locker with books before and after bookcase project

Into this.

I could kind of figure out the doors and maybe the hinges and maybe that both doors should open the same way and I could add some casters, but how would I add the handles?

And those numbers?

Where in the world would I find locker numbers?

So I did what all locker builders do.  I called a friend to discuss the dilemma.  Could I copy them and decoupage them?  Could I trace the numbers onto a piece of spray painted wood?  Could I just add wooden numbers to the top of the door?  Did a locker really even need numbers?

And then my wonderful, incredible friend told me that while I was busy talking and deciding and pontificating…..

….she had already found a set for almost nothing and ordered them for me and they were on the way to my house.

That is a true friend.

If only I had known her in high school.

She might have talked me out of that mum. 🙂

Here’s 411 on the locker project.

1. Start with a cubby

We started this project with a basic cubby.

Any cubby will work. I like this one from Wayfair.

You can find tons of abandoned cubbies at yardsaled.

2. Build a frame

  • Next, we built a frame for the bookcase out of MDF.
  • The frame is the key into turning it into a locker.
  • You can use any different type of wood, but I think MDF works really well for this project.
  • MDF has such a smooth finish when you paint it and I didn’t want any grains of a piece of showing through.

Totally not locker-like.

build frame

3. Measure and cut pieces

  • The bookcase measures 36″ x 24″ and we cut the following pieces to create the frame.
  • Two side pieces: 11.6″ x 36″.
  • One top piece: 11.6″ x 24″.
  • Three frame piece for the front (this is where the doors are going to go): 2″ x 32″.
  • Two frame pieces for the top and bottom: 2″ x 24″.

locker surrround

4. Frame out the top and side

  • Here’s a closer view of the piece so you can see how they all fit together.
  • We framed out the sides and the top first.
  • Next, we added the frame to the front.
  • All pieces were nailed in place.

center piece

5. Add centerpiece

We added the center piece last to make sure everything fit securely.

The center piece also helps stabilize the entire locker.

It also gives you a frame to hang the doors on.

add door

6. Add doors

  • Next, we measured the two open spaces for the doors.
  • Each door measures approximately 9″ x  32″.
  • We didn’t attach the doors yet, because we wanted to spray the piece with paint and primer before attaching the hinges.
  • First, we primed the MDF and let it dry.
  • Then lightly sanded and sprayed a light coat of SW Mindful Gray.


7. Attach hinges

  • After the paint dried we attached the hinges on the left-hand side of each of the doors so they would open the same way.
  • We cut an air-conditioning vent in half for the vents on the lockers and attached them to the top and the bottom.
  • I found a piece of hardware for the handle and glued a hook onto it.
  • And then I glued those locker numbers on.

Those wonderful, glorious, amazing locker numbers that inspired the entire project.

Thank you second period.

Thank you homecoming.

Thank you giant mum.

Thank you whispering bookcase.

I couldn’t have done it without you. 🙂

inside of locker (1)

PS  I love that when you open the doors, the cubbies make shelves in each locker.

Good thing I planned it that way. 🙂

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  1. Image for Lisa at celebrate creativity Lisa at celebrate creativity

    Karianne, this is so utterly gosh-darn clever. I never would have thought about this type of transformation. I love it. Great storage and dressed up in a wonderfully unexpected way. Great tutorial. Now, where can I fit a locker into my home-lol Have a nice day!

  2. Image for Shelley Summerville Shelley Summerville

    Seriously. Best. Makeover. Ever. Beyond impressed. I have searched for over a year for lockers for my mud room and finally found them - at quite a price of course. Where oh where were you when I was looking for them?! This is awesome- as always, beautiful job. Love getting your emails in my inbox each morning- you always make me smile ☺️

  3. Image for Terri Terri

    You are awesome......... What an imagination!!! I Love this !!! Oh... btw..... Homecoming was alllllll about the mums!!!! :) .... and the locker??? Welll.....I just wanted my hair to swing just the right way when "He" walked by the infamous locker !!!! lololol.....

  4. Image for Patricia Potter Patricia Potter

    Karianne You, My Friend, ...Are just too Cha-Cha for words...!!!! Simply Outstanding!! Have a Most Beautiful Day and May You keep hearing 'whisperings' !! :):):) Patricia (NC Coast)

  5. Image for Deanna Deanna

    Wow! Seriously so awesome. As always you inspire! This is my bookshelf transformation. https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-qLDdzcYsVz4/VapI00zuXnI/AAAAAAAAAtc/f21Npi-2Pi8/s1600/11742781_10207579557991446_5897511061617164144_n.jpg

  6. Image for Ann C Ann C

    How adorable would this be in a kids room? Or in a mud room? I'm celebrating my 50 year H.S. Reunion so I have vague memories but your work brought the locker memories back quickly. Thanks for sharing and the memories.

  7. Image for Yvonne Yvonne

    Rah, rah, rah! I love the locker makeover! I do hope you had that mum! I did! From my boyfriend (now husband) almost 50 years ago! Thanks for the chuckle, the locker idea, and bringing back the memory!

  8. Image for Nonna Donna Nonna Donna

    You know you are from Texas when you are homecoming 'mum savvy'. It's amazing how many don't have that experiential knowledge.

  9. Image for Sheri Sheri

    Oh Karianne. Clever as always. So awesome and you make lockers seem almost fun! Now about that chalkboardish world map hanging above. Hoping its part of your collection and gonna check right now!

  10. Image for Pat Pat

    Double WOW!!! I love it and what a clever idea whispered to you via the bookcase! You never cease to amaze me with your talents. Thanks for sharing this unique and clever piece.

  11. Image for Rowena Philbeck Rowena Philbeck

    Great makeover. I wasn't expecting that at all. I have one that I got that was similar. I put colored cloth baskets with yarn in them and each one is a different color. I really didn't change the color of the wood just added baskets. Yours is more unique and cool project. Great job!!

  12. Image for Marisa Franca @ All Our Way Marisa Franca @ All Our Way

    That bookshelf must have whispered to you to call your friend because the bs (bookshelf not the other word) knew she'd help you finish the transformation :-) . Do the numbers have any special meanings? How did you pick them out, were they random? Snoopy mind wants to know. I was trying to figure out how you got the doors on there because the edges weren't recessed. THEN, you satisfied my curiosity by showing us you framed it out. Pure genius!! You rock, KariAnne!! Hugs!!

  13. Image for Marie from The Interior Frugalista Marie from The Interior Frugalista

    When I saw the photo of the lockers, I had to scroll back up to the bookcase again because my brain couldn't register that it was the same piece. Now that's clever! As much as I have a fear of lockers (I was one of the smallest kids at school and guess where I got stuffed...often), I really love this idea!

  14. Image for Leslie Leslie

    Oh, my, goodness! You ROCKED this!!! Love it!...perhaps it's the teacher in me that misses the homecoming, mums and locker monitoring!! LOVE your creativity!!

  15. Image for Bonnie Bonnie

    That was just incredible! I had no idea. Loved the creativity as well! I visiting from the @shinebloghop today. I will probably be sticking around though.

  16. Image for Hope Hope

    Hello, Popping over from Making Your Home Sing Monday Linky Party. I love what you did with this book case! So creative! :) Hope

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