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DIY modern cube shelfGina Provenzano

I've been meaning to replace that IKEA Billy bookcase in the corner of my living room for the last two years now. I wanted something more fun, more interesting, more vertical...more modern. After looking around in NYC and on the internet and not finding anything that fit my aesthetic and budget, I decided to DIY it.

Since storage is always the ultimate goal, I wanted something that had plenty of it -- including a place to hide things that are not exactly made for display. I found simple wooden cubes at a Michaels Craft store for about $20 each. For a bit more money, they even had a version with a door. Not bad...

With cubes in hand (or in arms), I set out to make my shelf unit. Not a bad end result, if I do say so myself. After I had painted the interiors of the cubes, I realized that I might have loved it even more had I opted for a honey oak-stained exterior instead of white painted. Oh well, maybe next project.

Read on to see what you'll need and how to make a modern shelf unit of your own!

P.S. I'd love to know how yours turns out...

5 - Wooden cubes (13.5" x 13.5" x 11.25")
Wood glue
flat head wood or sheet metal screws
Drill bit (for making pilot holes)
Phillips head screwdriver
Measuring tape
Drop cloth
Primer paint
White paint
Contrasting color paint
Sealer or furniture wax and rags
Painter's tape
Decorative knobs and screws

1. Stack cubes haphazardly in desired order atop one another. Make certain the tower is balanced. As a rule of thumb, do not extend cubes in either direction by more than 5 1/4 inches. The tower should stand and be relatively sturdy without any screws. When placement is set, run a pencil to mark where the second cube sits atop the bottom first cube. Also mark cubes in number order, from the bottom up: "1" for bottom, "2" for the next one up, and so on. Then mark "L" or "R" to indicate which direction the cube will extend; left or right. Continue marking cubes in the same manner.

DIY modern shelf unit, drilling shelvesGina Provenzano

2. Lie the cubes on a flat surface atop a drop cloth with the open sides face up but with space between each cube. Using the pencil markings as your guide, and starting with the bottom cube, drill 4 pilot holes in the top of the bottom cube. Do not drill outside the marked line. Dab a little wood glue on the top surface of the bottom cube. Abut the second cube to the first cube in its proper place. Using a wood screw in each pilot hole secure the first cube to the second. Continue in the same manner until all the cubes are attached. Stand the shelf to make certain it is sturdy and secure. If it feels wobbly at all, decrease the extension of one of the cubes. Allow to dry.

3. Remove knobs from cabinet doors. Lightly sand the cubes and wipe clean. Apply primer to entire surface. Allow to dry.

4. Mask off the front edges of the cubes and paint the interiors in desired color. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat, let dry and remove tape.

5. Apply painter's tape to interior edges of cubes, over blue paint. Paint exterior and edges of shelf white. Allow to dry. Apply a second coat and let dry.

6. When completely dry, apply furniture wax or sealer to entire surface according to manufacturer's directions.

DIY modern stacked shelf unitGina Provenzano

7. Place knobs on cabinet doors and use screws to secure in place.

Enjoy your new shelf unit!


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