Bright Ways to Beautify a Basic, Boring Bookcase

Bright Ways to Beautify a Basic, Boring Bookcase

Camille Simmons
Mar 23, 2016
(Image credit: A Cup of Jo)

Update an inexpensive or basic bookcase with just one or two easy changes! We often have the materials just lying around the house, or we’re just a quick shopping trip away from transforming any set of shelves. It is simple to add your own personal twist with wallpaper, paint, trim, or lighting. With these few changes, a plain bookcase can turn a boring corner or wall into something that’s bright, cheerful and organized.

Adding wallpaper to the back of any bookcase saves the hassle of having to wallpaper an entire wall. It covers just enough area to make an impact in any space and, depending on the bookcase size, requires only one wallpaper roll. The built-in white bookcases (shown above) from Jessie Randall’s home on A Cup of Jo are a great example of a subtle yet stylish design. Adding a slightly more extended shelf creates a bookcase that doubles as a desk too.

(Image credit: Design Mom)

Floral print wallpapers are a wonderful option. They add beautiful color, elegance, playfulness, and personality depending on the print. Either apply wallpapers directly to the bookcase or to pieces of cardboard cut to fit the shelves' backing. That way it’s easy to switch out the wallpaper for something new. This bookcase with soft green and pink paper from Design Mom has just the perfect vintage touch.

(Image credit: Style Me Pretty)

If you’re craving a little metallic in your living room or office, one of the simplest updates is to paint a plain bookcase gold. IKEA has an affordable and modern FJALKINGE bookcase for $130, but it can be transformed to this "brass" bookcase from Style Me Pretty. Nicole Gibbons of So Haute Style offers a simple DIY tutorial. Not a fan of gold? Paint it any color you love!

Another great IKEA hack is to add custom trim and molding to the basic BILLY bookcase. Katelyn of Love, Luck, Kisses & Cake created a step-by-step tutorial for her studio makeover.

(Image credit: The Decorista)

Painting just the interior shelves a bold color makes an elegant statement for any space. For a large bookcase, like this built-in shared on The Decorista, consider painting every other column of shelves. The break in green paint allows the design to breath and amplify the elegance. It’s just the right amount of color for the space.

(Image credit: Emily Henderson)

Emily Henderson is a pro when it comes to bookcases. Each section of this gorgeous bookcase is painted a different gradient of grey. Instead of just a white background, collected objects and books pop against a subtle color that’s neither boring nor basic.

Try completely covering a plain bookcase with a pretty pastel shade. Go against your typical conservative color and pick a pastel with less grey tones or a deeper saturation. Justina Blakeney blogger of The Jungalow transformed this vintage find into a ice cream pink dream. Any inherited or antique bookcase will come back to life with a fresh paint job.

(Image credit: Dream Green DIY)

This bookcase DIY is incredibly simple yet so stylish. We tend to focus on just changing the interior of bookcases, but painter’s tape is a great tool for creating any custom pattern on a given surface. Dream Green DIY transformed this small kitchen bookcase with strategically placed painter’s tape and a fresh color palette.

(Image credit: Dos Family)

A whimsical bookcase is wonderful for any home, and especially for a family. This bold illustrated wallpaper bookcase from Dos Family is the perfect place for happy toys and children’s trinkets. The shelves are painted a coordinated mustard yellow to match the wallpaper, and make for a cheerful kid’s storage area.

(Image credit: Little Green Notebook)

There’s no shame in wanting to keep a bookcase plain. Adding elements like a ladder, brass handles, or shelf lighting will add instant style. Jenny Komenda of Little Green Notebook did just that to give her bookcase the classic feel of a library.

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