Shelf Life

Use shelf liner instead of wallpaper to add a little more interest to your bookshelf.

We have a lot of books in our house.  I love books, everything about them—they way they feel, the way they smell, especially the way they look. You might notice in photos on this bog that I use them not only to read, but also to decorate. We are short on space when it comes to housing our books; many of them still live in boxes in the garage. Despite our lack of book space, I am not about to neglect the bookshelves we do have.

A bookshelf is more than a place to hold books; in our house, it is part of the décor. (When you have a house this small, everything is part of the decor). With that in mind, I wanted to add a little life back into the dark and sad bookshelf in our living room. I love the idea of wallpapering the inside of bookshelves. I have seen it a lot lately. But, when I looked into the practicality of it, it seemed a little more involved than I had first assumed. First problem: where do you buy wallpaper? For most, like myself, it involves online shopping. Since wallpaper is quite trendy these days, it is also expensive, which leads to my second problem. If we were keeping this old bookshelf, I was not about to spend $100 on a roll of wallpaper to decorate it.

Solution: Contact Paper or Shelf Lining.  I picked some up at Marshalls on clearance for $4.99. Now that’s a bargain.

Lining your bookcase is not actually the easiest process. Self-adhesive lining is difficult to work with because it is ready to stick to anything at any time. You need precise measurements and a lot of patience. My bookshelf turned out less than perfect, but I found a busy print that hides many of my flaws. The key to applying lining is to follow the directions—stick then remove the creases and air bubbles with your hands. Here’s what we did…

What We Did:

  1. Lie the bookshelf flat to get the best coverage.
  2. Measure the back, sides and shelves for exact coverage.
  3. Remove any shelf that you can to make the application easier.
  4. When you are ready to apply the lining, be sure to lay it down in small sections at a time (1″ sections), smoothing out creases with your hand as you go—from the center out. If there are air bubbles, prick the bubble with a pin to release the air, then smooth with your hand.
  5. Take breaks. You’ll be happier in the end.


  • Shelf paper, self-adhesive
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Patience

We really have some actual books on that bottom shelf. 🙂 (Missing the before and during photos).


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