Real DIY: This home bar is made out of an old bookcase bought for £10

We're loving the rattan storage baskets for keeping cocktail-making supplies and the addition of the bold floral wallpaper

DIY bar with vase of flowers
(Image credit: Leanne Hicks)

Everyone needs a well-stocked bar cart, and as the weather warms up, an at-home bar won't go amiss either. One thrifty DIY and upcycling fan has transformed an old bookcase bought for just £10 into her very own bar.

Leanne is currently building a summer house for her garden ready for some socializing with friends and family in her outdoor living space. 'We want to incorporate as much as possible,' she says.

This bar is the tip of the iceberg, as she's also planning various other garden ideas. There'll be 'a little dance floor, DJ booth, comfy chairs, dartboard, TV, and goodness knows what else!'


bookcase with rattan storage baskets

(Image credit: Leanne Hicks)

'We needed to find a space-saving option for a bar that would be fit for purpose but small enough,' Leanne explains. 'I could not find one to purchase – so it was time to think creatively.

'I spotted a bookcase on Facebook Marketplace that I immediately saw as an opportunity to repurpose – a bargain at £10 too!

'I love the Scandi vibe and rattan trends that are popular at the moment, alongside rich tones. I desperately want a wood strip paneled wall or ceiling in our home – so tried to incorporate this into the upcycle!'


DIY bar

(Image credit: Leanne Hicks)

Leanne made the bookcase into a bar for a total cost of around £25. If you're feeling inspired, she used: wood batons, a sheet of plywood, a sheet of MDF, Frog tape, wood dye, No Nails adhesive, tester pots of black furniture paint, clear wax, and wallpaper samples.

The first step was to sand down all the wood and clean it with sugar soap. Then, she dyed the batons - Leanne says that to try and do this afterward would be a nightmare. She also recommends testing a patch to check you're happy with the color before using it all over.

'I then cut all the wood to size – both the plywood which would become the backing and the MDF for the top. These were then painted in two coats of black furniture paint.'

DIY bar

(Image credit: Leanne Hicks)

She also used Frog Tape to mask up the basket areas to ensure a clean finish, and painted the rest of the bookcase (soon to be bar!) in the black furniture paint.

Next, she cut all the wood batons to size and attached the plywood with nails. Then, she went on to attach the wood batons using No Nails adhesive.

Her top tip is to start attaching the batons at the middle and work your way outwards, using the offcuts of baton to ensure they're evenly spaced.

Once the vertical strips were in place, she added a strip horizontally at the top and bottom with nails at each end. This secured all the strips in place.

diy bar

(Image credit: Leanne Hicks)

'I then added the bar top using screws, then used clear wax – a few coats and lots of buffing to ensure it is wipeable!'

Leanne describes a lightbulb moment after she found she wasn't totally happy with how it looked inside. She used some lovely wallpaper samples inside, which finishes it off a treat. 

'Now just to build the summer house!' she says. Garden bars and outdoor kitchens go hand in hand - take a look at our guide for some great ideas. Follow Leanne Hicks on Instagram at @figsandmarmite

Talk about raising the bar.

Millie joined Real Homes in early 2021 as a homes news writer. When she isn't writing about trends, makeovers and houseplant care, she spends her free time making tweaks to her rented flat in North London. Her next project is a very basic armchair reupholstering job to help create a cosy reading nook in her living room. She loves browsing antique centres, tending to her small front garden, and is never without some fresh flowers at home.