Do you love a rustic and modern bookcase?

Do you love to mix rustic and modern in a beautiful bookcase? If so I’ve got the DIY project for you.

Shortly after moving into our home Monte built some shelves in the office. I had seen something similar and thought it would look great in that space. There is a jut in the wall that is a perfect place for books and decor.

I was fine with it for a long time but over the past several months I was ready to take it out and do something a little more modern.

Out with the old

Thankfully Monte was ok with it. I do hate wasting money but we had used these shelves for a lot of years. So it wasn’t a complete waste. After taking everything off the shelves Monte got busy knocking them out. Literally. He used a hammer and pry bar to rip out the shelves. They came out so quickly, I couldn’t keep up as I carried nail laden pieces of wood to the vehicle.

I was so excited to start with a fresh slate. We did need to so some filling and sanding and painting but I was excited to build something new.

My inspiration

My inspiration for the rustic and modern bookcase came from a trip we made to Waco Texas. I had always wanted to visit Waco and Magnolia Market so we finally made it happen. While walking around all the shops I found this gorgeous shelving unit at the Magnolia Home store. I loved it and wished it could be mine. Unfortunately it wouldn’t fit in the space we have for our bookcase.

Magnolia Homes bookcase

That got me looking on line and thinking about the what we could build that would fit our space and cost a lot less money. The value is there for the Magnolia Home bookcase but it was more then I wanted to spend and wouldn’t fit anyway. In my online searching I found this one that I really liked too.

Rustic and Modern Bookcase

The Design

I wasn’t completely solid on my design before we made our way to Home Depot but I knew we would figure it out as we went. Since Monte is the one doing the work and figuring I look to him for advice. He has a better mind at this then I do and can for see issues that I can’t. For me it’s all about being pretty and functional.

At Home Depot we looked through all the wood options and weighed out the pros and cons. Then made a great decision. One I really love and am so excited to show you.

The materials for our rustic and modern bookcase

We decided to use premium tongue and groove pine for the sides and back. I wanted to paint the outside but leave the inside rustic raw wood.

The premium tongue and groove for our rustic and modern bookcase

I didn’t want to make the bookcase the same size as our jut in the wall because I wanted to see the sides of it and make it a statement piece more then a built it piece.

When I saw the rough cut tongue and groove I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. There were a few options but this is what worked best with my vision.

The hardest part to the design is finding straight boards. We had to visit a couple Home Depots to find enough straight ones. I originally thought of adding paneling to the back but I couldn’t find any that was pretty and didn’t look cheap so we decided to use tongue and groove on the back.

Building our rough and modern bookcase

We were wanting to take our time with this bookcase and make it something amazing. Building it similar to our design of the Barn Doors in the office. You can check the barn doors out here.

Building the bottom and top frame

Monte wanted it well built and square and sturdy. There was some figuring because we wanted the sides and back to encase the top and bottom frame. So we needed to make sure it would fit perfectly inside.

Building the top and bottom pieces

We used 1×4’s to build the top frame and 1×6 for the bottom and then worked to make it square and the perfect size. In hind site we realized we should have used plywood and ripped it to size. It was a little tricky getting them to square up perfectly. Tricky because any time you use dimensional lumber it can bow and twist where plywood does not have this issue.

Tongue and Groove sides and back

After the top and bottom frame was done we worked on the sides and back. Because we were using tongue and groove pine we had to rip the tongue and groove off the ends of each section. We worked to make each end exactly the same. A full board in the middle and each side cut to the same width.

Building the sides

I wanted the depth of the bookcase to be about 15″ so we need to cut down 2 tongue and groove boards to make it the right width.

Clamping and Gluing

We used wood glue to put it together. It is very strong and will secure the boards. We also knew we were going to use cleats to hold it all together and also for the shelves to sit on. At this stage we’re wanting to hold it well enough together until it is nailed and screwed to the top and bottom bases.

The back is glued and clamped together

We glued each piece together then used our 4′ clamps to hold it tight. After it was clamped we screwed a couple boards across the back to hold it in place. We only had to take it apart one time because we realized we put one board in backwards. The tongue and groove is rough on one side and smoother on the other. I was wanting the rough side to be in the inside of the bookcase.

Screwing on a scrap piece to hold it over night while the glue sets.

We then pulled off the clamps and started on the side pieces we cut to width earlier.

This is our 2 sides and the top and bottom piece before they’re cut

It’s all stacked up and sitting for the night. The side pieces are glued but we just put them side by side so the clamps could hold it all tight over night.

Putting it all together

Making sure everything is going to fit the way it should

Marking the back to know where the top and bottom frames will sit.

After making sure it was going to work out as planned we got busy putting it together.

We had the start of our rustic and modern bookcase. Monte installed the top and bottom inside pieces to completely get it framed. These will match up with the sides panels.

Cutting the base and header to length.

Adding the insides to the base and top

Adding the side panels

It was a bit of work and figuring to get to this stage. This part is the least exciting and a bit more detailed but definitely worth getting it done right.

After the sides were on and square we were ready to add our back panel we built.

It’s all coming together.

Necessary tools. A drill to screw it together and a square to make sure it’s square.

The start of our rustic and modern bookcase.

It was fun to get it to this stage. It looks like a boring pine box but I’m pretty excited to start adding some dimension to the bookcase.

Making it pretty

I had an idea about what I wanted but I really wanted to see what it looked like before I finalized everything. I must be a more visual person because I have a harder time knowing exactly what I want and how things turn out.

We had originally purchased different wood to finish out the design but decided we wanted to keep it cohesive. It was going to cost a little more to use tongue and groove pine as opposed to different wood but in the end it was the right decision.

Adding side trim to give it dimension

Gluing and nailing the trim in place.

We added trim on the sides and on the face of the book case. I didn’t want it flat and boring. Framing out the sides and adding depth to the front make it look custom and professional.

Adding all the trim


We were able to use all the end pieces we had cut off the sides and back frame so we didn’t have to purchase more wood for the cleats. Not only will they keep the shelves secure but also keep the whole unit sturdy.

Adding some crown

Building out the top before adding the crown

Glued and nailed into place

I wanted to add some crown to the rustic and modern bookcase. It was going to elevate the whole design and make it look custom. I was hoping to find more options but after digging deep in the real wood crown section I finally found one that would work. It wasn’t exactly what I had in mind but was going to give it the look I was after.

Cutting the crown to the needed length

Making sure the crown was perfectly level.

It was so exciting to get the bookcase to this stage. I was seeing my vision come together. It sure makes me happy when something like this works. Not that it went 100% smooth but we were able to work through the challenges.

Sanding is my favorite

I love the smell of wood and the feel of beautifully sanded wood. It was the perfect end to our week. I knew I wanted to keep the inside more rustic and rough but I wanted the exterior to be smooth and soft. That was one of the reasons I chose the tongue and groove pine. It is smooth on one side and rough on the other. We kept the rougher side for the inside and used the smooth on the outside.

Sanding so we get the beautiful finish I’m after

I got busy sanding with my mouse sander. I love this little sander. It does a great job and fits my hand nicely. As I sand I run my hand along the wood making sure it feels nice and smooth. It took a little time but wasn’t too terrible. I had sanded the sides and back a little before we put it together so I had a start on the process.

After it was completely sanded I used the air hose to blow it off. I then used a wire brush and ran it on all the areas I was going to paint.

This loosened up all the hidden sawdust in the wood grain. You wont believe how much sawdust this little wire bush pulled out. I then blew it off again and wiped it with a lint free cloth. This is a step you do not want to skip. It will make a huge difference in your finished product.

Securing it really well

Monte took some time and screwed each back tongue and groove into the frames he built. This pulled it all together and made it really secure.

Screwing it all together for strength

The back wont be seen and since we were screwing into the previously built header it wasn’t seen on the inside either.

Sanded and ready to paint and add more prettiness

I am so excited to get it to this stage and see how pretty it is looking. It looks better then I imagined. It’s now ready to paint and add a few more fun finishing pieces to make it that beautiful rustic modern bookcase that I imagined.

The finished product

Part 2 of this project is coming soon. It will also include a supply list and a printable step by step guide.

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I am passionate about cultivating home. Whether you like DIY, design, decor or organization I want to help you cultivate the best home for you. One space and step at a time. Small simple to maintain changes with big results.