How to turn a bookcase into a retro cocktail cabinet

How to turn a bookcase into a retro cocktail cabinet
We've teamed up with Cassie Fairy for a Christmas Edition of Upcycling items you may find in a self storage unit.  She has worked her magic yet again and has transformed an old bookcase into a stylish cocktail unit perfect for entertaining during the festive season and beyond.

If you’ve been coveting retro cocktail cabinets on Pinterest but the cost of the genuine article has put you off, why not DIY your own version? For this project we found an old bookcase with glass shelves and, with a bit of imagination, turned it into our dream mid-century cocktail unit. 

You can decorate the interior of your cocktail cabinet with metallic paint and vintage patterned paper to create a twinkling effect for a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, or you could choose a bold colour to coordinate with your interior all year round.

You will need:

  • Bookcase with glass doors
  • Saw
  • Screwdriver
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Teak oil or varnish
  • Primer spray paint 
  • Metallic spray paint
  • Wallpaper or wrapping paper
  • Spray adhesive or wallpaper paste
  • Cabinet legs and brackets

Step 1

Cocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-1-opt.jpgThe old bookcase storage unit we used has shelves below the glass doors, so the first step is to cut off the shelving section. Remove any loose shelves and unscrew the glass doors and set them aside. Use a hand saw to cut away the shelving section at the bottom of the unit, leaving just the cabinet section.

Step 2

Cocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-2-opt.jpgIf there’s any damage to the wood on the cabinet or legs, such as scuffs or watermarks, use a fine grit sandpaper to gently sand back the wood. Refinish it with teak oil or a clear varnish and allow to dry. If you’re planning to spray paint the legs or cabinet, you can skip the refinishing step.

Step 3

Cocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-3-1-opt.jpgCocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-3-2-opt-(1).jpgCocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-3-3-opt.jpgSpray paint the shelves and legs with a coat of primer. Dry thoroughly before spray painting with a metallic paint. Here we’ve used silver on the legs and gold on the shelves for a super-glitzy look. You could choose a bright hue to add a pop of colour that matches your décor. Apply fine coats of spray paint and allow to dry between layers.

Step 4

Cocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-4-1-opt.jpgCocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-4-2-opt.jpgCocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-4-3-opt.jpgUse a patterned wallpaper or metallic wrapping paper to cover the inside back. If possible, remove the back from the cabinet so that you have a flat surface to work on. If the back is an integral part of the cabinet, you’ll have to work inside the unit. Depending on what paper you’ve chosen, use either wallpaper paste or spray adhesive to attach it to wood and smooth it out. Once dry, screw the decorated board back into place. 

Step 5

Cocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-5-1-opt.jpgCocktail-Cabinet-Project-Step-5-2-opt.jpgScrew the brackets for the cabinet legs to the underside of the unit. Attach the spray-painted legs and put the doors back onto the front of the unit. Slide in the shelves and stand back to admire your new mid-century cocktail cabinet.
Retro-Cocktail-Cabinet-Project.jpgAnd there you have it – a glitzy cocktail cabinet ready for your Christmas and New Year’s parties. Style with crystal glasses, metallic straws, an ice bucket, a vintage sofa syphon (we spray painted ours to match the gold and silver theme!) and plenty of drink options. Adding a string of battery powered fairy lights inside the cabinet illuminates the interior and the metallic surfaces reflect the lights for a truly festive party vibe.

If  you need somehwere to store your future treasures until you have time to upcycle them we're sure to have a unit that will suit your needs.  Find your nearest store and get in touch.

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