Built-in Corner Bookshelves


 Yesterday I showed you the built-in bookshelves around our window that we installed.  Today I wanted to show how we built-in corner bookshelves on the other side of the living room.  Here is a sketch of the initial thought Cassity had for the built-in corner bookshelves.  I love how she draws on top of a photo for quick idea of how it could look in the space.

built-in corner bookshelf



 Here is the plan with all the dimensions that we built our corner bookshelves with.

01 corner bult-in bookshelves final dimensions


  • You can take this tutorial and modify it to the size that you want. Just make all the adjustments according to your spaces needs.  I would limit the width to 3′ on either side of the “L”.
  • This bookshelf goes floor to ceiling.  The space from the top to the bookshelf opening, was reserved for crown molding.  The space from the floor to the bottom shelf was reserved for the base molding.  We personally like tall base moldings and crown.  If you plan on using base moldings or crown, add up the height of the molding, plus the face frame width, for your final face frame height.


Materials Used

  • (3) MDF Sheets – 4’ x 8’ x 5/8”
  • (Approximate 200+) Brad Nails 1”

Tools Used

  • Table Saw (optional)
  • Circular Saw
  • Miter Saw
  • Nail Gun
  • Air Compressor
  • Sanding Block
  • Tape Measure
  • Framing Square
  • Pencil
  • Sander Block
  • Level

Cut Sheet (length x width x thickness)

  • (2) Sides – 96” x 11 3/8” x 5/8′”
  • (10) Side Shelf Brackets10 3/4” x 1” x 5/8”
  • (5) Back Shelf Brackets (short side) 35 3/8” x 1” x 5/8”
  • (5) Back Shelf Brackets (long side) 45 3/4” x 1” x 5/8”
  • (1) Top Shelf Support – see diagram below

01 shelf dimensions

  • (1) Bottom Shelf – see diagram above
  • (3) Middle Shelves – see diagram above
  • (2) Top & Bottom Face Frames (short side)– 24 5/8” x 9” x 5/8”
  • (2) Top & Bottom Face Frames (long side) – 36” x 9” x 5/8”
  • (2) Side Face Frames – 78” x 2 1/2” x 5/8”
  • (3) Shelf Face frames (short side) – 22 1/8” x 2 1/2” x 5/8”
  • (3) Shelf Face frames (long side) – 33 1/2” x 2 1/2” x 5/8”

Construction Steps


step 1 - corner bult-in bookshelves mod

Note To calculate the dimension of “A”

Add the height of the base molding + the width of the face frame. For our bookshelf we needed to add 6 1/2” (base molding) + 2 1/2” (face frame) = 9”.

step 2 - corner bult-in bookshelves mod


step 3 - corner bult-in bookshelves mod

step 4 - corner bult-in bookshelves

step 5 - corner bult-in bookshelves

Note To calculate the dimension of “B”

Measure the opening height from the top of bottom shelf to top of the shelf support (78”). Add up the total face frame widths of the number of shelves within the main opening (3 x 2 1/2”= 7 1/2”.  Subtract that number from the total opening of 78”.  78” – 7 1/2” = 70 1/2” Divide that number by the number of shelf openings (4). 70 1/2” / 4 = 17 5/8”.  Take 17 5/8” and subtract out the thickness of the one of the shelves of 5/8”.   17 5/8” – 5/8” = 17”.  The dimension of B is 17”

step 6 - corner bult-in bookshelves mod

step 7 - corner bult-in bookshelves

step 8 - corner bult-in bookshelves

step 9 - corner bult-in bookshelves

step 10 - corner bult-in bookshelvesThis image shows how I butt up all the face frame corners.  This way you don’t have to miter any corners.  Because we painted it I wasn’t really concerned.  If you wanted you could miter them, you would just need to adjust the dimensions.

step 10 corner bult-in bookshelves close up

There you have it, built-in corner bookshelves plans just for you.  Now it’s your turn to build.  Let us know how it turned out.  Don’t forget these other project plans and the other built-in bookshelves that we made plans for.

Meet the Author: Justin

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  1. says

    Love your plans! What program/website do you use to create the technical drawings? I volunteer for my HOA and we’re trying to get a website off the ground, and adding visuals to our architectural guidelines would be huge! Thanks!!

  2. cathrynj says

    Great tutorial on how you built your shelves. It really helps to see how you determined the dimensions and how they tie into crown and baseboards.
    My question: did you build over existing drywall? And if you did, how did you handle painting the inside of you shelves? The outside would match the trim, right? Then what about the drywall?

    • says

      The whole interior drywall included was all just painted the same color that we painted the trim (which was a plain white in Martha Stewart paint which doesn’t exist anymore!!). Then later on I decided to paint the interiors black… but that was just cuz i wanted to.

  3. Ryan says

    Great plans! My wife and I are moving into our new 100 year-old house and this will look great in our living room!

    My one question is — we have taller (~6″) baseboards. Would you recommend that I essentially cut out and pull out a section of baseboard to make room for the shelves or is it possible to build around them?


    • says

      Ryan, I think that because it’s a 100 year-old house that it would be best to leave the base boards and build around them. It is possible to build it and leave the baseboard. You would need to cut out the base board profile at the back of the build-in so it would still sit flush against the wall. Just scribe an exact profile of it to the back of the built-in and cut it out with a jig saw. We had a 100 year-old house years ago, so we know what you are going through. Have fun with the project.

  4. Seedplanta says

    Love the plans! Just 2 questions.
    1.Do you have a drawing that shows all the cuts for each plywood laid out by itself, i.e show the 4×8 plywood and the lines showing how to cut it?
    2. Is there a Pinter friendly version of the plans, I didn’t see a link to print it?

  5. Louie says

    Just wanted to let you know that these were great plans.The only thing is that it will take 3 sheets of plywood to do these plans. There is no way of getting 5 shelves out of only 2 sheet. But beside that again great plans, should be done with this project in a few more days, and I can’t wait.

    • says

      Thanks for pointing that out, Louie. I now remember fastening the bottom shelf together. I updated the post to say 3 sheets of MDF not 2. Thanks!

  6. Karen says

    Hi! Your blog is fantabulous! Is there a post where you detail the steps to creating the arches that run atop the columns?

  7. Jeff says

    The corner shelves look great. Two questions: Are the L-shaped shelves one piece of MDF or two that are butted together? How do you nail the sides of the unit to the thin cleats on the wall?

    Thanks! (please email me)

    • says

      Jeff, yes the L shaped shelves are one piece. When the cleats are nailed to the wall you can nail to the end of the cleat. It is small but once it all is nailed together it holds up really well.

  8. Clem Griffiths says

    For the corner bookshelf can you clarify how I adjust for crown molding and baseboard molding working with the dimensions you have and assuming the dimensions for molding ,etc. I want to experiment with crown moulding in the one room ( home office).
    Excellent plans by the way I was thinking of howto build similar but I was way off. Thanks for sharing. In short I am asking for measurements that will support crown moulding

    • says

      For the bottom shelf for instance, I had a base molding that was 6 1/2″ tall. I then added the face frame width of 2 1/2″. That gave me the total of 9″ for the height of the bottom shelf off the floor. I choose to keep the face frame width the same all around the bookshelf at 2 1/2″. So if you want to keep the face frame that same all the way around you need to add the height of your base molding to the face frame to give you the height of your bottom shelf. With your crown molding you need the height of the molding when it is placed at an angle. Then add the face frame width. I hope that helps and is not more confusing.

      • Leah Morris says

        LOVE this. We have a new house and need to add molding. How much did this cost you to do and how much total time after you had plans?

  9. Len says

    Just what I’m looking for.

    But, what supports the shelves where they butt against each other on the room side of the “V” join (or where they butt up against each other). And how does each shelf get joined to its neighbour.

    I can see that where they butt against each other on the wall side (supported underneath by the wall strip) but not on the room side).

    A vertical board in the room-side corner would work but there is none in your plans. And I would not to use one if at all possible.

    • says

      Len, the shelves are one “L” shape. They are one piece not two. I cut them out like that so they would be stronger in that situation. The front of the shelf trim also gives it additional support. If you are concerned about the weight of what you are putting on your shelves you could add a vertical shelf support. I hope that helps clear things up.

      • Len says

        Yes, I missed that on my first three reads. Lot of info there and I didn’t see it. Thanks for clarifying and thanks for this post.

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