Published On September 25, 2018 | Last Updated August 22, 2020
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Make DIY display shelves using items around the home. It’s an easy and quick project.

DIY display shelves

When I inherited some lovely mementos from my grandma, I wanted a display rack to show them off, while also keeping them safe. I decided the best spot for a display stand was in my home office, were I have a lovely cabinet with glass doors.

Since there were no shelves in my cabinet, I built my own easy DIY display shelves from nothing but scrap materials. If you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to display collectibles, knick-knacks, or trophies, try making something like this!

Easy DIY display shelves made from foam blocks covered in fabric



I used scrap materials that I happened to have around the house.  If you don’t have the exact materials that I used, think outside the box.  What else do you have that might work?


1. Measure the display space

Measuring tape used to measure the width of a display cabinet.
Measure the display space, and then go in search of materials.

I started by measuring the width of my cabinet, and then began hunting for materials around the house that would work to create shelves. I didn’t have anything around that was wide enough, so I made two display racks to fill the space.

2.  Cut the styrofoam blocks

I decided to make my display racks out of styrofoam blocks, because it would be lightweight and durable. I found some old packing foam from an appliance purchase. But if you don’t have any at home, you can easily order styrofoam blocks.

Marking a cutting line on a styrofoam block to be made into a display shelf
Mark the foam blocks were you want to cut.
Cutting a block of styrofoam with a small hand saw

I used a small hack saw to cut the packing material into sections, so that I could create two shelves.  (Note:  I chose to do this inside, so I wouldn’t create any non-biodegradable pollution outside.  Just be warned, cutting styrofoam makes a big mess, and static makes it stick to everything!  Have the vacuum handy.)

3.  Glue the blocks together

I applied a heavy coat of white craft glue to my blocks and stuck them together.  I put some weight on top while the glue dried, to help hold it in place.  (Don’t use hot glue, because it will melt the styrofoam.)

Applying white glue to foam blocks to secure them together and create a display rack
Stacked styrofoam blocks

4.  Wrap shelves in fabric

After the glue has dried, you can wrap the shelves in any kind of fabric you like.  I used a chunk of black burlap that I already had.

Black is a nice choice for a display rack, because it sets off the items on the shelves.

Black fabric wrapped around foam blocks and secured with straight pins

As you wrap the fabric around the blocks, make creases and folds at the bends and corners.  Secure the fabric in place with straight pins pushed into the styrofoam.

5. Display your pretty things

I made two of these easy DIY display shelves, and put one on each side of my display cabinet.  They’re perfect for all my mementos.

Some of the pretty things in the back are from grandma.  The row of baseballs across the front are from my former life as a grounds crew worker. It’s fun to display treasures and memories.

Other clever organizing tips

I love simple, thrifty solutions around the house.  Some of my other favorites that you should check out are:

Clutter Control Checklist

And don’t forget to download your free copy of our Clutter Control Checklist.  

Mementos and clutter are two totally different things.  You can have one without the other.  See how.

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