A few weeks ago, I received an email from a reader that was decorating the study in her home. She had a couple of bookcases that were in excellent shape, but she didn’t care for the back panel. She didn’t want to replace perfectly good bookcases because of this one small detail and asked me what she could do to update a boring bookcase back panel.
This question came at a great time, because I’m working on a project now in which I’m changing up the back panels on the client’s existing bookcases. The back panel is a great opportunity to add style, color and interest to a plain bookcase. It’s also a wonderful and cost-effective way to give a functional piece of furniture a totally new look.
There are myriad ways you can transform a boring bookcase into one that really stands out. Today, I’m sharing ideas with you on how to do that by simply changing up the bookcase back panel.
WAYS TO ADD STYLE TO A BOOKCASE BACK PANEL
1 Bring color and pattern to your room by using your favorite fabric on the back panel. Fabric adheres easily with spray glue and your options are endless.
3 If you have a bookcase with lots of different compartments, give it some pizzazz by covering the back panels of each compartment in a different pattern. This can be done with wallpaper, paint, or fabric.
4 Make a stock bookcase sturdier and add charm at the same time. Switch out the flimsy back panel with beadboard, then paint it out to coordinate with the room. Beadboard could also be added to the back of built-ins.
5 If the back of your bookcase has a smooth surface, jazz it up with a stencil. Try contrasting colors or tone-on-tone colors in different sheens.
6 Give your bookcase old world charm by covering the back panel with tin ceiling tiles and painting the frame in a vibrant color.
MORE WAYS TO ADD STYLE
Here are a few more ideas to add style to your bookcase back panel:
- Wallpaper isn’t just for walls; it also looks fabulous on the back of a bookcase behind all your beautiful accessories.
- Use a couple of rolls of heavy duty wrapping paper and some Mod Podge to transform the back panel of a bookcase.
- Give warmth to an all-white bookcase by adding burlap to the back panel.
- Use grasscloth on the back panel to bring texture and interest.
- Use pallet boards in place of the back panel to give extra strength to the frame and add a rustic vibe.
- To give your bookcase a farmhouse flair, replace the back panel with shiplap or wide vertical strips of wood.
- Add a golden glow to your bookcase by covering the back panel in gold leaf or metallic paper.
- Cover the back panel of a bookcase with old maps.
- Paint the back panel of a child’s bookcase with chalkboard paint.
Here are a couple of tips I’ve discovered along the way:
- The back panel that comes with some bookcases you assemble yourself is often quite flimsy. Replacing it with a wood panel will give the frame more strength and support. And you can paint or wallpaper over it.
- If you don’t want to remove the back panel and want to make future update easier, cut foam core board to fit between the shelves. Then, cover it with fabric, wallpaper, etc. You can easily remove it when you want to change the look. To keep it from falling out, adhere it with double stick tape or better yet, Velcro tabs.
- Cardboard back panels don’t hold up to paint. Change the back panel to something that can be painted.
Do you have any ideas for updating bookcase back panels that you’d like to share?
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