30 DIY Shelves That Can Be Made From Upcycled Materials

three wooden shelves mounted on white wall
Chatuporn Sornlampoo / EyeEm / Getty Images

Repurposed materials are commonly used to create inexpensive and practical DIY shelves. These upcycled shelves not only transform ordinary walls into useful storage spaces, but they can also make an interesting design statement. With some imagination and DIY skills, you can turn lots of existing materials into custom shelving. And you often can find these materials for a lower cost than the price of prefabricated shelves.

Here are 30 ideas for DIY shelves created with upcycled materials.

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    Belt on a Shelf

    Shelf with belt hangers

    Nur Noch

    Want to show off a few small items? This belt shelf from Ronja, the blogger behind Nur Noch, is a smart idea that's cheap and easy to create. All you need is a wood board and an old suede or leather belt. In this instance, Ronja used an Ivar shelf that she picked up at Ikea for less than $5.

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    Cheese Box Shelving

    Circle shelf with bottles
    Curb to Refurb/HomeTalk

    Carrie of Curb to Refurb has a knack for recycling found objects into stunning home furnishings. She created this stylish round shelf using a discarded cheese box. To find a similar box for free, visit your local gourmet store. Stores generally discard such boxes after unpacking the cheeses.

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    Wood Slices

    Wood shelf

    Flipping the Flip

    Becky of Flipping the Flip created this rustic shelf using wedge slices from a tree trunk she found in the park. The keyhole brackets used to hang it cost her only 99 cents. This kind of wedge slice is cut out of the trunk whenever a tree trimmer is cutting down a tree. So be on the lookout for tree crews working in the neighborhood; you might find such wedges free if you ask.

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    Dresser Drawers

    drawers hung as wall shelves

    Namely Original

    If you have a dresser you no longer need, you can follow what Emily from Namely Original did. Emily created these adorable DIY shelves using dresser drawers that she purchased from a resale shop. Locate wall studs using a stud finder, and then attach the drawers by driving fasteners through their bottoms and into the studs.

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    Wood Tray

    narrow wooden DIY shelf with cacti on them

    Nur Noch

    Ronja from Nur Noch transformed a wood tray into a smart shelf. The project begin with sawing the tray in half lengthwise using a circular saw. Then, one short end is cut off each tray half. Finally, the cut ends are joined together to form a long, narrow shelf. The shelf is then attached to the wall with fasteners driven through the back edge and into studs.

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    Craft Boxes

    Hexagon shelves

    Making Lemonade

    Carrie from Making Lemonade created a stunning shelving display using customizable paper mache boxes. Carrie spray painted the boxes gold and then screwed them into the wall after playing with placement for a bit. Finally, Carrie used gold scrapbook paper on the shelf backs to cover up the screws.

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    Apple Crates

    stacked crate shelves

    Nur Noch

    You won't need more closet space if you have a dozen apple crates. Ronja from Nur Noch created these DIY shelves using old crates that she painted white and then fastened to a wall. A similar shelving style can be created from peach crates or any other wooden produce container.

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    Colored Pencils

    Dominic from Variations on Normal created a colorful and functional DIY shelf using colored pencils. Two layers of pencils are glued together with the tips pointing out. And the shelf brackets are made from an adorable pencil case with a ruler that’s been cut in half. This shelf would be the perfect addition to a craft room.

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    Old Guitar

    If you’re a music lover, this is the shelf for you. This DIY shelving seen on Homedit is made from an old guitar. It's the perfect way to repurpose a broken guitar that can't be played anymore. The guitar body has been opened up, and two shelves have been added to showcase small items.

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    Magazines

    Many shelves are made out of wood. But you also can turn paper into shelving. This shelf seen on Recycle Nation is crafted from 80 old National Geographic magazines that have been connected via paper mache. After the paper mache hardened, a band saw was used to carve out the rectangular shelf shape.

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    Vintage Suitcases

    Vintage suitcases are beautiful, but they might not be fit for travel anymore. Instead, turn them into DIY shelves like these from Red Hen Home. The suitcases were sawed in half for a more typical shelving depth before they were mounted to the wall. Face the handle side out to showcase the interesting vintage hardware. 

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    Red Wagon

    If you have a little red wagon gathering rust in your garage or you find one at a yard sale for cheap, consider turning it into a shelf. Gary shared this DIY project on Hometalk, using a small wagon, a piece of wood cut to the length of the wagon, and some piping. Gary first cleaned up the wagon and then sawed it in half lengthwise. The wood became the back side of the shelf, and the piping was attached underneath to become a towel bar.

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    Tables

    Tables already have the essential structure of shelves. They just need to be reshaped a bit. These DIY shelves seen on Dornob are crafted from old tables that were cut in half lengthwise to a typical shelf depth. Then, they were painted the same color and mounted to the wall with some of their legs still attached for an artsy look.

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    Wood Scraps

    You don’t have to be a precise woodworker to make a well-designed shelf. These DIY shelves seen on Inhabitat were crafted totally from scrap wood. The small wood pieces were attached at random to create a mosaic look that would be a perfect fit with other eclectic decor.

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    Interior Door

    Linda from Craftaholics Anonymous created this clever shelf using an old door. The six-panel door was cut in half lengthwise and then reattached at a 90-degree angle to make it into a corner shelf. Then, Linda added four rounded shelves cut from particleboard before painting the unit a fun turquoise and adding a vintage door knob.

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    Skateboards

    Rebecca from The Crafted Sparrow repurposed inexpensive skateboards into eclectic DIY shelves for her son’s room. Rebecca found skateboards that already matched the room, so she didn’t have to alter their appearance. Then, Rebecca simply mounted them to the wall with L brackets and added some cool decor pieces on top.

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    Ladder

    A ladder can make a simple but effective frame for some DIY shelves. Maya from Maya Made had an old wooden ladder, and then she cut pieces of barn wood to form shelves across the ladder rungs. Finally, she added some wire baskets on the shelves to store small items.

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    Hardcover Books

    Get literal by creating a book shelf—that is, a shelf made out of books. This DIY seen on Dornob shows how hardcover books can be attached to one another to form a small shelf. You can even cut books diagonally to create brackets for your shelf. This is a great use for damaged books that no longer are suitable for reading.

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    Plastic Crates

    Plastic crates are an inexpensive storage solution, and you might even have some lying around unused. This DIY from Super Crafty Gal turns those crates into cool and useful wall shelves. If you want, you can spray paint the crate in the color of your choice. Then, use plastic canvas mesh to line what will be the bottom of the crate once it’s hanging on the wall. Attach the crate to the wall with hooks or screws.

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    Buckets

    Buckets are an unexpected but completely functional object to use as a shelving solution. This DIY from Jaime at Build Paint Sew uses simple silver buckets placed at an angle in simple framework built especially for them. The whole piece keeps items organized and looks great.

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    Wood Shutters

    Wood shutters offer a quaint, cottage-like feel both outdoors and inside. This DIY from Refresh Restyle turns a lone wooden shutter found at a thrift store into some adorable custom shelving. Simply attach brackets to the shutter where you want shelves to be, and then cut pieces of wood to fit them as the shelves. You can paint or stain the wood and shutter however you like. 

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    Rope

    These DIY shelves from Ananda at A Piece of Rainbow are easy and inexpensive to put together with just rope and wood. In fact, if you have scraps of rope and wood from other projects, that might be all you need to fashion some shelves. Ananda dyed the rope yellow for some extra design flair. Then, Ananda drilled holes in the wood and ran the rope through them, knotting it under each hole so the shelves stay in place.

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    Fruit Baskets

    Fruit baskets aren’t just for kitchen countertops. These DIY shelves from Across the Boulevard are the perfect spot to store fruit, veggies, and other items using vertical wall space. The DIYers simply attached baskets to pallet wood and then mounted the whole unit to the wall. 

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    Driftwood

    There’s a lot you can do with a salvaged piece of driftwood, including make some rustic shelves. These DIY shelves from Sustain My Craft Habit fit right in at a lakeside cabin. The goal is to display the natural beauty of the driftwood. Cut it as needed to size, aiming to retain its natural lines when possible. Then, sand the wood to reduce its roughness, and apply wax to seal it before hanging it on shelf brackets.

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    Pipes

    If you like an industrial look, consider making shelving out of pipes. This large custom shelving unit from The Design Twins cost only $350 to create. Black industrial pipes were attached to the wall to form the shelving frame. And then the DIYers stained pine boards to run along the pipes. 

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    Piano

    Give an old piano a new life by transforming it into custom and creative shelving. This DIY from Instructables uses just the wood frame from a piano, which the DIYer scored for free because the piano was damaged. After removing the piano innards and cleaning up the wood, they reattached the lid of the piano as the new back of the bookcase. The whole unit was mounted to the wall, and shelves were cut to fit its width.

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    Vintage Chair

    Old chairs are a common sight at thrift shops and yard sales. If you’re not in the market for seating, consider repurposing a cool vintage chair into shelving. DeDe from Designed Decor did just that, retaining the upper part of the ornate wooden chair and some of the back legs and attaching an old sewing machine top as the shelf. 

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    Tree Branches

    If you like an outdoorsy vibe, look outside to find some of your shelf-making materials. This DIY from Family Handyman uses two similar forked branches from a crab apple tree to act as the supports for shelving. The shelf itself is a melamine closet shelf, but you can use any wood you like.

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    Small Boat

    If you have a small wooden boat that’s no longer sea-worthy, bring it onto shore as a shelving unit. This DIY from Instructables creates a boat shelf from scratch. But if you already have a boat, you simply need to cut it on one end to create a flat base and then add shelves to the interior. 

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    Rake

    An old metal rake can serve as rustic and functional shelving indoors with just a few tweaks. This project from DIY Joy cuts off most of the wooden rake handle, paints some of the remaining handle for added design flair, and then drills it into the wall with the rake head facing down. Glasses, keys, and other small items can be hung on the tines. And you can even cut a small piece of wood to put over the tines to create a solid shelf surface.