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Bookcase Ideas: A Quick Makeover

detail of wallpapered bookcase

One of the neat features of the new house was a large built in bookcase, but it had the featureless contractor-white of a new house.  I needed some bookcase ideas and fast.  I wanted to make it pop, especially, before we filled it with items. I was in the process of trying to look through ideas for bookcase makeovers when I happened on the clearance section of Target.  Okay, Adam happened upon the clearance section of Target… BUT, I took to the idea immediately.  We decided to try some navy and gold peel and stick wallpaper.  It is removable and basically feels like a large vinyl sticker.

Bookcase Makeover

detail of wallpapered bookcase


  • Peel and stick wallpaper*
  • Straight Edge
  • Cutting Tool (I happened to have a nice rotary cutter and mat which made this process so much easier)


Just a boring plan bookcase…

Boring white bookcase transformed with peel and stick wallpaper

Quick Directions

Measure, cut, and stick.

Except it needs a little more finesse than that.  First, this was a custom bookcase.  Guess what that means?! No section was the same size…  I carefully measured the different sections and then calculated the best cuts so I did not have to waste more of the paper than needed.  Even on sale it is not what I consider cheap!

My first section I left a little edge on the bottom and side thinking it would give a better fit if I trimmed it with an exacto knife after sticking it down.  Wrong, wrong, wrong.  It made it near impossible to get the sticker all the way to back of the shelf, then it was hard to get it smoothly applied (Use a credit card.  The enclosed tool was useless… I used to place decals for a living and you need something with a little flex), then when I trimmed the edge it was jagged.  I made sure to just measure carefully and trim accordingly for all other sections.

If you are not used to applying decals I will give you a tip.  Apply from the top middle and sweep out and downward to the left and right.  Occasionally, if you are matching patterns you will have to start on once side.  In those cases try to move in smooth outward motions from the area you start at.  Small air bubbles will usually lay down in a couple of days.  I did not have to do this for these small sections, but if you are applying a giant decal and, say, have a large group from the corporate office coming to check your display, and maybe have one giant ass air bubble in the middle and no extra decals…. Well you can take a very small needle and poke a tiny hole and work the air out getting it fairly flat.

After you have all the sections stuck, step back, admire your beautiful bookcase, and start arguing over what books and art should fill the shelves.


Filled with items from our travels, our favorite books (note the fascination with the Dark Tower), and some elegant accessories.  I think the navy and gold wallpaper gives the bookcase some focus without being overly busy.

Boring white bookcase transformed with peel and stick wallpaper