DIY IKEA Hack – Rope Bookshelf


I hope one day when I look at this bookcase I forget about all the nightmares and hot glue gun burns (until I figured out I should wear gardening gloves). I hope that when my friends come over I get compliments that make me beam with pride.

This darn IKEA hack nearly killed me. One night I had Mr. Wonderful help me with just feeding the rope around the legs and he turned into Mr. Grumpy and when I told him I was done with his help he went to bed and didn’t stay goodnight. Yep, that’s how terrible this was.

Still determined to do it? Well, here we go. Please do not email me when you’re upset in the middle of it, I’m giving you fair warning.

Even if you don’t plan on doing this, at least follow along on this DIY so you can see all my hard work and because I sure have some stories along the way.

Supplies Needed

IVAR pine shelf, $55
 / additional shelf, $6 + 610 ft manila rope 3/8 in wide, $81 +
Hot Glue Gun, $11  / Full Size 10″ Hot Glue 20-pack, $7 (You’ll need 2 packs) + Pandora, patience, and maybe alcohol


Optional Materials

If you want to stain the shelves as it was suggested to me and I think definitely important, grab some stain. I used Minwax Gel in honey maple, an 8 oz can for $7.50. You can also pick up 200 grit sandpaper as suggested, if you are staining.

Honey Maple Stain, can find also at Ace Hardware + Clear gloss, $20 on Amazon (cheaper at Ace), don’t forget 200 grit sandpaper + 3-inch spring clamp, $9 + deerskin gloves, $18

Also consider a drop cloth if you plan on making this inside.


  1. Assemble IVAR bookshelf. Say bad words in your head because you can’t understand why the darn thing won’t stand up on its own until you install the cross bar.
  2. Wrap rope starting from bottom. You can get away with putting hot glue gun on 3 of the 4 sides, but start on all 4 the first half inch to secure rope. Use clamps to secure the shorter pieces of rope that don’t wrap all the way around the post (due to a shelf in the way).
  3. Stain shelves if you want. Let dry.
  4. Apply top coat in finish you prefer.


  • Use garden gloves to avoid burns and your delicate hands being chafed by the harsh rope. I used deer gloves.
  • Much more helpful to have a friend wear gloves and wrap rope around the poles as you use the hot glue gun – so much faster!
  • When figuring out how much to grab, I did about 30 feet at a time to not break up the rope.
  • Use clamps from Home Depot to hold down parts of the rope that won’t stay put.

Anthropologie Rope-Wrapped Shelf, $1898 (Inspiration)


Rope-Wrapped Shelf, on sale $1499.95

DIY IKEA Hack, $205+ 2.5 days of labor


My IKEA hack
Rice baskets: Fringe Supply Co.

Bookshelf styling is later – sorry have to wait on a few more items!

Project Cost

$87 rope (tax)
$74 IKEA shelf (tax and shipping)
$20 hot glue gun sticks
$8 gel stain
$13 quick dry polyurethane in gloss
$3 foam brushes
My sanity

$205  TOTAL

What do you think?

There were a few modifications I had to make but I like the way it looked overall, and the memory of how much I dreaded working on it has quickly faded, thank goodness!

Diana Elizabeth is an author, photographer, and obsessive antique shopper. You can typically find her in the garden wrist deep in dirt, at a local estate sale or planning her next epic party. She continues to blog weekly.


  • Lacey

    I’m going to try this with my IKEA Hyllis shelf (link below) once I find a way to add the additional vertical line and arches that the Anthropologie one has. Did you consider using hemp or jute instead of the thick rope? If yes, what made you choose rope instead?

    • Diana Elizabeth

      hi! That sounds like a great project! I ordered the rope online so I didn’t really think that much into it, it was really tough to work with so I wish I had gotten a softer look but it did give me the look I wanted. I would definitely rethink that rope for sure. Good luck with your project!!!!

  • Mailinh

    Love the finished look! Go, Diana, go! Those DIYs can get the best of you sometimes, but I’m glad that didn’t it get to you and stop.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Thanks M ;) It was such hard work Benjamin had to tell me not to think about the entire picture as we went along. So glad it’s done!!! And now I can say, I did it and I saved money! :)

  • Kate

    The staining on the shelves looks great! And I enjoy the styling as is so I can’t wait to see it completely finished! So worth it.

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Thanks so much for recommending it, it was not the most fun part, but it was definitely worth waiting the extra 24 hours! :)

  • Carrie

    I think it looks GREAT!!! And you finished it without giving up….priceless!!

    • Diana Elizabeth

      Oh girl, thank you!!! I only finished it because I felt like blogging held me accountable ;) But now I have no horrible memories which is good!


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