Ok now HERE'S an example of something quick and easy that you can put together in a weekend. All it takes is some 10"-12" wide x 1" thick lumber (actually, this one took a LOT, to the tune of 24'...), 12' of 5" x 1", a 4' x 4' project panel (1/4" thick is what I went with), and some paint.
Does this HAVE to be a kids' room bookshelf? Absolutely not. Actually, if I had stained it instead of painted, and perhaps made the trim details a little less "whimsical" at the top, it could easily have gone into the living room. This thing is SOLID, it's made it through 3 moves (one cross-country!).
How was it made?
The first thing was obviously cutting all that darned wood. I went with 12" thickness. There are two 4' pieces for the sides, and five 3' pieces for the horizontals. Next I added 3/4" dados to the sides where I wanted the horizontals to go, glued, and stapled. DONE with the main body. (So easy, right??)
*Note: leave room at the bottom for some "baseboard," otherwise it'll look totally cheap...er.
I let my son pick out and help with the spray paint, it ended up being a really fun "mommy and me" project. It was definitely worth springing a few extra bucks for a thick paint that covers in one coat, I am still really pleased with the color and durability. It took an entire can, so if you're uneasy about the application or yours is bigger (there's a joke in there somewhere), you may want to grab 2 cans. Better to have extra than not enough!! ....As I was recently reminded when I was halfway through with the last coat of polyurethane on another project...
Then I cut the trim pieces. It's really up to you how wide you want them, I ended up with the full 5" at the bottom and top, and ripped a 5' length in half to make the sides. The details on the top were done with a jig saw, but you could use a band saw or scroll saw or even a router. To get the 2 identical curves, I traced a Home Depot bucket lid... Needs must.
Rounded 3 of 4 edges for softness (except the bottom, only 1 rounded edge for that), don't want the kiddo getting unnecessarily traumatized after tripping into it and hitting his head... It's so hard to get blood stains out of carpets and he's abnormally clutzy.
The UN-rounded edge is the outside/connect edge where the glue-up and nailing happens. The contrasting colors are enough, don't need to add a crazy groove to the mix where the twain shall meet!
A can of white spray paint made quick work of the "back" sides of these and the backing (plywood project panel), then a couple hours later I flipped them and painted the front sides.
After the paint was dry (the next day), I then glued and brad-nailed, being sure to wipe off excess glue since it was painted already (otherwise it would have been a pain to do the 2-color thing). Some 1 1/4" brad nails held everything in place, and I used a spray can of satin polyurethane to finish.
*Note: Make sure the poly matches. If you're using a water-based (acrylic or latex) paint, then use a water-based polyurethane. If using an oil-based paint, use an oil-based polyurethane. Same same. Otherwise, you may run into fogging, flaking, and curing issues.
Easiest. Build. Ever.
Leave me a comment! Tell me what the easiest project you ever did was.