Tag Archives: organizing bookshelves

Bookshelf Revival!

Are your bookshelves looking a little tired and untidy lately?  Mine sure are!  After completely reorganizing my ‘office’ desk/bookshelves in January, I was so excited with how they looked and felt.  But Life goes on, and Clutter happens.

Our biggest clutter magnets are the shelves just out of reach of the kids.  That is where all the little things get put that need to be just out of reach of the kids.  And the kids’ books get reorganized (pulled out and scattered on the floor) at least once daily.  Anyway, it is time to clear out the shelves again and have a fresh start.  If you are thinking about a bookshelf update, here are some ways you can go about it:

1. Fresh paint.  This is a great option for wood bookshelves.  You can paint laminate, but in order for it to adhere properly you will need a smelly oil-based paint and primer and a well-ventilated space to work.  I have tried latex paint and even spray paint on laminate, both with less than stellar results.  But, if you are up to the task, a unique look is to paint the outside of the bookshelf white, and the back and inside a color that compliments your decor.  Chalkboard paint on a kid’s shelf would add another element of creativity (and it would be ok to draw on your furniture!).

These bookshelves don’t have backs, so I painted the wall a bright orange for a fun accent.

2. Wallpaper.  If you have a remnant of a wallpaper you love, put it in the back of the bookcase!  You can even mix and match with smaller samples of wallpaper.  Another inexpensive trick is to use gift wrap (I love a good black and white stripe) or craft paper.  If the shelf has smaller cubbies, scrapbook paper can easily be cut to fit.

This bookshelf from the blog HiSugarplum, has a wallpaper back, a mix of books and decorations, and art hanging on the front of the shelves.

3. Fabric.  For our basement wall of books, I decided to display some of the pieces of fabric my husband brought back from his time in Japan as an exchange student.  Because I don’t want to ruin the fabric, I cut pieces of foam core (found in the craft or school section) to fit the shelf opening.  Then I wrapped the fabric around the back and secured it with a small tack before placing the entire piece onto the back of the shelf.  I placed the fabric pieces behind the most visually open shelves, since I didn’t have enough to cover all of the bookshelf backs.

4. Add wood trim for a custom look.  This is also a good way to reinforce laminate shelves that might be sagging from the weight of heavy books!  Glue trim pieces on the front and outer edges and clamp until dried.  You can add crown molding at the top to make the shelf even more customized.  If the original paperboard back of the bookshelf is in poor condition, think about using a different material, such as a backing of wood pallets, white board paneling or beadboard.

The reclaimed wood in the back of this built-in bookshelf ties in with the desk area.

5. Intermix books with baskets, photos, art, and other treasures. Placing some of the not-so-pretty books in baskets will visually lighten the shelf.  Vary the direction of your books, some in horizontal piles and some vertical. Tchotchkes placed on top or in front of books also makes for an interesting display, but don’t go overboard.  Art can be placed behind or in front of books, or even hung from the frame of the shelf.  For my shelves, I like to color coordinate books, but for my husband’s books, that is not very practical.  Be creative and think about ways to personalize your own bookshelves and give them a fresh new look for fall.