Decorating Spotlight: Bookcase Style

By Kate Riley September 25, 2009

Ever since I repurposed some bookshelves into a media center in our guest studio, I’ve had bookcase styling on my mind.  I am always drawn to bookcases where the back has been enhanced with paint or wallpaper.  I took a few hours to decorate my own media bookcases in an inexpensive way. 

But first, here are a few images that really inspire me.

belle maison blog laura ashley wallpaper From Belle Maison


I love all of the different papers behind these cubbies, mixed with the bright colors.

tara dennis cube shelves  Tara Dennis


These muted tones are so soothing and so gorgeous

great designImage: House Beautiful, June 2006 


Love the turquoise paint, patterned wallpaper, and white ceramics

canadian house and home Image: Canadian House and Home


Living Room

Image: Unknown


The bold and the beautiful

styleathome bookcase

Image via Style at Home


I must have this paint color somewhere in my house. 

southern living bookcase Image: Southern Living


Stunning pops of color and all white book covers on the shelves

serena and lilyImage: Serena & Lily 


Classic golden books pop against this pink patterned wallpaper

country living shelves Image: Country Living


Love the turquoise and black here

bhg oct 07 Image: Better Homes & Gardens, Oct 2007


orange painted bookcase martha stewart

Image: Martha Stewart

Again, different patterned papers make such a statement paired with the yellows and grays

whole lotta lovely shelf

Image: Whole Lotta Lovely

macys cupboard

Image: Macy’s


domino yellow backed bookshelfDomino Magazine


pink bookshelf martha stewart

Image: Martha Stewart


ap th book spines turned in

Image: Apartment Therapy

I just love all of the colors and designs.  I can’t pick a favorite.   


With all of this colorful inspiration, I just had to pep up my own media center bookshelves.  I really wanted to cover just a few of my books with uniform book covers.  I also got a little creative with a temporary solution for the back wall.  I gathered these supplies from my craft box, including stamps and stamp pads, wrapping paper and white banner paper.


Then I took a roll of aqua blue wrapping paper, and repeated a brown stamp across the paper. 

diy wallpaper

I also I used a very large script stamp to make some more book covers.

script bookcover 

books with script

Then I hung some temporary “wallpaper” with double sided tape along the back of my media center shelves. 

left side shelf


More patterned book covers

white pitcher shelf

Blue versions

blue version book covers


A little munchkin snuck into my picture

little rascal


Here is the repurposed media center, restyled with the inexpensive patterned paper.  

repurposed media

Someday soon, I’ll invest in “real” paper for the back walls and frames, or perhaps some really amazing fabric, as soon as I find the right pattern.  But for now, I’m really liking the neatly covered books.  Anything to help take my eyes off that gigantic older TV!  Now I’m just hoping and praying that when were watching that big screen on Sunday, that the Niners don’t get completely crushed by the Vikings.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  

Which one of the inspiration photos is your favorite?   I just can’t decide. 


  1. goodness, this is fabulous!

    of all the inspiration photos, yours is by far the best, love it

    I’m itching now to go start covering all my books in white paper…or the kids lol!


  2. Looks beautiful! I would say you were very successful at creating a diversion from the view of the TV…and the munchkin is cute too!

  3. I love the white bookshelves with the bright color on the background. I HAVE to have that black and white chair. I am constantly looking in thrift stores for chairs like that so I can make one of my own.

    Your entertainment center is very nice. It’s so difficult to mask a huge tv without putting it behind doors. Great job.

  4. Your bookcase turned out wonderful! But can I just say I truly applaud you for showing your big ugly tv on the internet. I am getting a bit annoyed with all the beautiful pictures that always cut out the eyesores that we can’t live without. So many people take every picture on megazoom so you can never see the real life. So thank you and and a big applause for your tv!

  5. You are so creative! Beautiful colours. Very calming, which is what you need around a tv. I have a huge black tv too, that I just pretend not to see each time I walk into the lounge! My tv sits on a vintage style glass doored wooden cabinet that I fill with things I like to look at. It compensates for the tv!

  6. Lovely, as always! (Your daughter too.) Although, I must admit, I’m kinda hoping the Vikings *do* crush the Niners on Sunday. :-)

  7. I love the “unknown” image. Since last June I have been systematically covering all my book in brown paper gabage bags and vintage sheet music. Recycling at its best.

    If you get a moment (ha right?) please tell me what kind of camera you use. I will be shopping for a new one tomorrow.

    Have a great weekend.

  8. It looks super. I love the color and the books look so pretty all covered. I need to do something to the back of mine. Great inspiration pics too. Hugs, Marty

  9. I love that idea- I hate seeing all those different book binds and a mess of color chaos, but my question is (or rather my husband question will be) how will I know which book is which?

  10. Ricky Ricardo here – Lucy, ‘splain to me, you cover all dem books, how you find da book you want??

    I use the books on my 7′ tall by 6’ wide shelves all the time! I suppose I could create a smaller vignette somewhere other than my studio and cover books I don’t use. But – if I don’t use them I don’t own them.

    Just having a laugh with you – I love all of these looks and I’m not surprised anymore with what you come up with. I seriously would like to move in with you!

  11. Gorgeous!!! Your stamping is so perfect – you always blow me away with your creations! Keep up the good work – we love the eye candy!!! :)

  12. You did such a good job!!

    The blue Better Homes and Gardens one is my favorite. I love the colors and the chair next to the bookshelf and that little blue lamp sitting on the table. It’s all so cozy!!

  13. Is die-worthy a word? Probably not. But that second, pink, Tara Dennis pic is drop-dead gorgeous.

    I can attest that double-sided tape is a great option for papering the back of a bookcase. I did one, decided I didn’t like it, and had a second try which turned out much better.

  14. I love all of the inspiration pictures, especially the Serena and Lily one of the bedroom. I think this is a cool way to switch things up, and you can always change it the way you did it. It’s cool to see that I’m not the only one who puts candles on top of the TV!

  15. I am crazy about that Serena & Lily room with the white statues against the pink….It is so yummy! What wonderful ideas. I love what you did with the stamped wrapping paper.

    I’m so glad you decided not to stay forever in your gorgeous bathroom, and that you have come out often enough to continue sharing wonderful ideas with all of us. I had to tell my friend about the glass frosting spray paint yesterday. You should have seen her eyes light up! (I experienced a similar reaction myself) Fun, fun, fun stuff. Thank you!

  16. I really love how it looks and I never even noticed the ‘gigantic older tv’! Is that a shutter on the bottom left side of the entertainment center? I love it whatever it is! You should post about it :)

  17. Ooooohhhh, love this post! I have a large white Ikea bookshelf that’s been begging for some “zotching” and I think painting the backboard would be just the thing.

    I do have to say that covering the books, while it looks way cool, makes me a bit nervous: how will you find the book again?

  18. I’ve never really done any stamping but what a great idea for those times when you can’t find just what you are looking for and don’t want to leave a project unfinished…thanks….although, as a lifelong bibliophile I have to say I just can’t get into looking at all those books covered up. It almost hurts a little!! One thing I like about books is their variety of shapes, colors, textures etc. I haven’t ever tried sorting them by color yet at home because I am so left brained/practical/functionally oriented I would rather have them sorted by subject. Less stylish than you and many of your readers:-) but I think that sorting books by color might be a more livable option for those of us who wouldn’t want to cover our books. Like one of the other bloggers mentioned, I use my books frequently too….also like another blogger mentioned….thanks for showing your big tv and being an inspiration to move forward and work with what we have instead of waiting until we can re-do everything. Happy Friday. btw, Belle Maison.

  19. Diane and Felicia,

    I too am always torn between covering them up and not covering them up. Actually, I have hundreds of great books that I cannot part with. I keep them in my office and another huge closet. And I have styled books all around my house by subject. I love displaying books. And I love when other people display their books as well. There was something about having just a few covered in patterns that appealed to me. But you know, I get these urges, and then I change everything around again. Don’t be surprised if I do another post in a few months where I’ve done something completely different.

    Ho hum. I’m just a fickle girl.


  20. Lindsay,

    That’s a record player on the bottom part of the bookshelf. Mr. CG loves old records. It’s the only place it will fit !


  21. It’s amazing that you posted this today! This weekend I am redoing this HUGE bookshelf with cabinet underneath that my grandmother had built for all of her romance novels :) At this moment it’s backless, but I’m going to attach some beadboard to the back. I’m also going to repaint it and add some molding. I can’t wait!! You’ll have to come see it when I get done. I LOVE a project!

  22. Kate, girl! Thanks for coming by & leaving a note like that. Appreciate it and you know what? You’ve done everything perfectly, obviously, cause you are one of the exceptions whose blog has gone crazy in less than a year. So, be very proud of yourself for that. It doesn’t happen like that often, so you must be doing it right.

    On WLW, I really like the WordPress loading of pics and posts now, so I will probably just stick with it. Loved WLW while I used it, but I am not having any problems doing it within WP now, but thanks for letting me know that.

    Oh, and love your inspiration pics today! :)

  23. The Apartment Therapy picture is interesting…I never thought of turning the books around! But, I like how you recovered them. So cute!

  24. Love the image from Canadian House and Home. I can’t wait to do this someday…I just need to find some old bookshelves first! Love the books covers using the script stamp – awesome idea!

  25. Wow, yours are gorgeous! I wrapped a book in white paper tonight, and was sorely disappointed. I said to my hubby, “Why doesn’t it look as classy on our shelf???” Lol. I was hoping I had some cool stamps in my (OLD) collection, but was disappointed with that too. Only teddy bears! Thanks for the inspiration!

  26. Hello Kate – wow, you did an absolutely fabulous job on your media center! I really love the way you made the design for the back of the shelves. Such a pretty pattern. Thank you for the inspiration!


  27. Great idea to create your own patterned papers with solid paper and your stamps! Your “finished” media center has so much more visual interest with your covered books and background pattern. Love it!

  28. I love the idea of using the wrapping paper. I tend to change my mind often and this would be so easy to redo many times over. My favorite photo is actually the muted tones from House Beautiful. I don’t do a lot with patterns, so that one would look great at my house.

  29. I liked the Better Homes & Gardens and the Macy’s photos the best. I love the results you got with your stamps and paper. :) The books look great, and the bookcases really pop now. I have tons of those acrylic stamps that I *NEVER* use…this would be a good excuse to get some wear and tear on them. :)

  30. Bookshelves are functional and necessary, but seem to always be an eyesore. These ideas are fantastic! In the past I’ve used vinyl wall decals to spice up a bathroom, and I’m thinking I could also use them for interest behind the bookshelf as you’ve used wallpaper. The wall decals I used were from, and had a matte finish so they blended right into the painted wall and looked like they’d been painted on as part of an original decor. With your inspiration, I’ve decided that redoing the bookshelves in our bedroom is now our fall project!

  31. I repurposed a Billy Bookcase (from Ikea) in to a media center when I used to live in a studio (i painted the inside fuchsia, and the outside a very light grey). Loved it!

  32. Isn’t that a neat idea……..i did it too with books & combined the pink & red in my craftroom. It is up against black to keep it from getting too cutesy. Yours looks astounding! Makes the ordinary books looks so neatly together!

  33. I love yours! I did that too & it makes such a difference, doesn’t it. Your home & this project to0 inspires us all!

  34. Oooooo….such pretty eye candy! I love the order of all the bookcases in the inspiriation but especially like what you did. It’s real life version. I have visions of organized households with intriging displays but alas, they are peppered with army men and Star Wars battles. It’s life though and at least it makes me laugh.

  35. Thank you so much for posting this’s just the inspiration I needed for my bookshelves around my fireplace!!

  36. I hardly ever comment (even though I’m IN LOVE with your blog and you majorly inspire me) but I just had to say how much I love this project. I put some striped ikea wrapping paper on the back of my inexpensive ikea bookcases a few months ago to try and dress them up and it made them look so much better and not like the cheesy particle board that they are. I’ve wanted to make my books look more uniform though and didn’t know how until now. Love love love it! I’m doing this today! Thanks for the great idea!!

  37. I’ve been meaning to do something about a bookshelf that my husband made out of scrap material. The time and proper inspiration just hasn’t been there to help me get started…until this blog entry. Really enjoyed the sample pictures you posted up along with the fruits of your renovation toils. Real lovely work, I must say. And I may venture to do something similar except the bookshelf in question does not have a back wall. Any ideas on how to remedy this?

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