How to Turn a Display Case into a Bookcase

Today, we’re sharing how we turned a display case into a bookcase giving a second chance to one of my least favorite pieces of furniture. Ironically, it helped to solve a big storage and organizational problem in the process!

Our Inspiration

I was talking to my Mom about several projects we’ll be working on for a client over the summer.  Our goal is to do a basic refresh which includes a fresh coat of paint, artwork, accessories and update the bathrooms.

As you can imagine, the bathroom renovations took up a good chunk of the budget. So, we’ll be reusing as many pieces of furniture as we can. We’ll also be shopping our favorite thrift stores, charity shops and estate sales to help keep costs down. Honestly, these kinds of projects are always my favorites.  They all but force you to be creative out of sheer necessity.

Anyway, due to the way the home is laid out we’ve had to be strategic about how we approach each space. Not only are there painters and tilers to consider, we’ll also be rehabbing and upholstering a few pieces of furniture. This means most of the particulars need to be timed out flawlessly.

Embracing “The Wait”

Thankfully, we’ve already started on the bathrooms. So, while we’re waiting for those spaces to be finished, we’re making sure we have all the decorative details nailed down. I’ll be honest with you guys though this is exactly the point where people get stuck and sometimes do nothing.  I myself have even gotten stuck during “the wait.”

“The wait” is that period of time when you’re waiting on one task or space to be finished before you can start on another.  For example, if the tilers are in the bathroom you don’t want to have the painters come paint the bedroom. After all, the tilers might scuff up the walls as they’re walking in and out of the bedroom and bathroom.

In my own home, we painted the walls in the living room last summer.  We’ve been looking for set of bookcases or a media unit for months now.  Because we don’t know the color or style of the bookcases, it’s delaying our choice of pillows, curtains and rugs.

It’s also delayed trying to decide if we should paint an end table or the coffee table.  We haven’t chosen any artwork to go above the mantel either. 

Honestly, it feels like everything with the living room is currently at a standstill. These bookcases will be moved into my new office later this week.

Getting a Plan Together

After the conversation with my Mom, I realized there is usually something that can be done while we’re waiting. Even if it’s just decluttering or prepping for the next project.  This was definitely the case at my house and in the case of our client’s house too.

For our house, I realized I could finally address the glass display cabinet that has given me a decorating fit for years.  I know that sounds kind of dramatic. But as you can tell from all the pictures above, I’ve tried everything to make it work.

This includes an easy update to the display cabinet withshiplap paper.  Secretly, it’s my least favorite piece of furniture in the entire house. There have been so many times I’ve just wanted to take that beast to the curb.

A few days ago, though, I decided to approach the cabinet in a completely different way.  While we’re waiting to find the media center or bookcases, I’ve been thinking about how we plan to use the living room. 

It’s mostly going to be used for movie watching, game nights, curling up with a good book and enjoying the fireplace during the winter.  Those thoughts led me to thinking about how to make the space cozy.  Anytime I think about the word cozy, I think about blankets.

The large baskets behind the couch have predominately been used as the best way to organize magazines.   They worked really well.  But the more I needed to grab magazines for inspiration, the less I found myself willing to put them away properly.

This is usually the first sign a system is not working as efficiently as possible.  Organization systems should be simple, you guys.

Turing the Display Cabinet Into a Bookcase

Thankfully, that realization was a big light bulb moment for me. It also provided an opportunity to turn the display cabinet into a bookcase. And finally give a second chance to one of my least favorite pieces of furniture.

I started with a blank slate by clearing out the collection of tarnished vintage trophies.

Then I went through the magazines in the baskets. I donated stacks and stacks of them! After that I went through our books (which was SO hard).  I donated stacks of those as well. Once I had all “the keepers” I organized the magazines into basic magazine files and covered the books with brown craft paper.

With all the books and magazines in place, I polished our collection of tarnished vintage trophies and added them to the bookcase.

Once the shelves were styled, I hung these vintage fern pictures I’ve had for years next to the cabinet. I also added a French style laundry basket to help give another layer of texture to the bookcase.

The Display Case to Bookcase Transformation

Here’s a look at everything styled without the basket, for a more simplistic look.

Now that we’ve turned the display cabinet into a bookcase, I can’t get over how much easier it is to use! Anytime I need to reference a book, grab a magazine or steal a vintage trophy for a photo shoot they’re all right there at the ready.

It’s completely ironic my least favorite piece of furniture in the house actually helped to solve a big storage and organizational problem. I’m so glad we gave this glass cabinet a second chance. And I hope you’ll look at the pieces you have lying around the house in a fresh way too.

Waiting for a large house project to be completed can seem like it takes forever, I totally get it. That said, if you find yourself in “the wait” keep working on those tasks both big and small. It will help move your progress forward and will be worth it in the end!

Until next time, I’ll see you on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.

Many blessings,


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  1. I just love how you are using a piece that had one intended purpose and are using it for another purpose! My kind of project! Thinking outside of the box can be so much fun! I love the brown paper wrapped books with your black lettering on the binding too. And you have found perfect storage for the messy magazines!!

    1. I appreciate it, Cindy! I love magazines and decorating books in general so I knew I had to come up with a better solution or things were going to be out of control very quickly 🙂 Hope your weekend is a happy one, CoCo

  2. CoCo – this was definitely a happy accident. The cabinet looks amazing – especially with your organizing skills. You’re so fortunate to have all of this new-found storage space. Much love!

    1. I appreciate it you guys! I’ve found in the past if I don’t designate a certain category of stuff to a certain area it will take over the house. Remember when I used to have dishes under the beds and in the closets and in the party pantry too? They’re completely under control now so fingers crossed my love for decorating books and magazines will be too 🙂 Sending you both hugs, CoCo

  3. Aha! Now I know what to do with my piles of magazines and books! I love the way you styled your cabinet and the organizational hacks you used in this post. It really came out so well! Thanks for sharing at Tuesday Turn About!

    1. Thank you bunches Crissy! I tell you those magazines and decorating books can get out of control so quickly if you don’t keep a handle on them 🙂 Spending a quiet afternoon at the bookstore is one of my favorite activities so I’m glad I’ve found a simple way to organize a small indulgence. Hugs and see you at the party soon, CoCo

  4. Hi Coco!
    I love repurposed pieces! Your bookcase turned out lovely and has given me some inspiration on how to store some the of the magazines I have saved for future inspiration. I love the brown paper covered books! It took me back to my school days when we covered our books using brown paper bags from the grocery store. An old-fashion paper bags have so many more uses than the plastic ones. Thanks for sharing at Homestyle Gathering! I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

    1. I appreciate it, Kim, thank you! Brown kraft paper comes in so handy doesn’t it? I too can remember wrapping my books with grocery bags and it was always fun. I really thought I was never going to be able to put this cabinet to good use but I can honestly say I love it now. I’ll eventually hang some different wall art and freshen up the chairs but all in all it’s been a great solution so far. Sending you hugs, CoCo

  5. Julie Briones says:

    Wow, you have really used this cabinet/case in some lovely ways! Love those magazine holders… they are perfect! Blessed to have you at Tuesday Turn About!

    1. Thank you, Julie! I swear that piece drove me totally bananas and I was ready to take it to the curb. I’m glad it has a new lease on life now though because it really has helped to keep things organized. Hugs and see you soon at the link party, CoCo

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