From Drab to Dreamy: A Bookcase Renovation

JAN 24, 2018 updated May 27, 2021

Feeling the winter blues? The cold days of January can make anyone stir-crazy. Instead of staring at the same old furniture, cheer up your space with this easy weekend project using our go-to home déc material: woven wallpaper. Whether you use an old bookcase at home or pick one up from a tag sale, this refresh is guaranteed to help you see your reading nook in a new light! Follow along as Spoonflower’s president, Allison Sloan Polish, takes you through the DIY.

From Drab to Dreamy: A Bookcase Renovation with Wallpaper | Spoonflower Blog

Allison: With a community of people who use Spoonflower in such creative ways, I’m always getting new ideas from what others have shared. I’ve seen dressers, shelves, bedside tables and more that were re-covered in fun wallpaper prints. This was the perfect inspiration for me to give an unused bookcase a second life.

From Drab to Dreamy: A Bookcase Renovation with Wallpaper - Before | Spoonflower Blog

First stop: Spoonflower. A beautiful wallpaper design in our Marketplace caught my eye with its distressed, faux-metallic look. Since I was applying the wallpaper to a wood surface, I chose Woven Wallpaper as its peel and stick application won’t affect the integrity of the wood. Spoonflower sells wallpaper by the foot, so I saved money by ordering two custom-length rolls to fit the back of the bookcase.

Sanding the bookcase before applying paint | Spoonflower Blog  Sanding the bookcase before applying paint | Spoonflower Blog

To start, I lightly sanded the worn bookcase and wiped it clean to remove any dust. I chose a quart of premium latex paint so I could skip using a primer. After three coats of teal paint, the exterior, interior sides and shelves of the bookcase had the perfect coverage. I avoided painting the inside back where I planned to add the peel and stick wallpaper. This was important, as it allowed me to skip the recommended waiting period before applying Woven Wallpaper to fresh paint (and saved on the paint cost and time).

Painting the bookcase | Spoonflower Blog

Once the paint dried, I peeled a couple inches of wallpaper backing from the first roll and matched the wallpaper with the inside back left corner of the bookcase, continuing to smooth the material as I peeled the backing.

Applying the wallpaper | Spoonflower Blog  Cutting the wallpaper | Spoonflower Blog

With 6″ of exposed wood remaining on the right side of the interior, I measured and precut the second roll of wallpaper 8″ wide so it would be easier to maneuver inside the bookcase. Once the wallpaper was positioned, I used a sharp utility knife to trim the excess on the sides and bottom. Because I had a lot of wallpaper left over from the second roll, I used the extra as drawer liners elsewhere in my house.


From Drab to Dreamy: A Bookcase Renovation with Wallpaper

Well-placed knick-knacks and novels completed the look and added an element of drama. Arranging items onto the shelves was a fun way to revisit things I’ve collected over the years. I think the wood birds I got in Paris have never found a more perfect place to roost.

When it comes to using wallpaper in her home, Allison ins’t just by the books. See how she created a custom art table with woven wallpaper for her family craft room!

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  • Sharon Carbine

    Love your re-imaged bookcase. You gave me ideas for my drab white bookcase. Thank you!

    • We’re so glad you like it! The turquoise Allison chose is the perfect springtime color.

  • I am looking at my default white bookcase at the moment thinking how far would just a bit of color go to make it awesome! Maybe not as daring mint green but a deep mahogany red. Thanks for the tips 🙂

    • We’re so glad you enjoyed the tips! It’s amazing how big of an impact a fresh coat of paint, wallpaper and a little creativity can make!