DIY Tutorials: Jazz Up A Bookshelf

30 Jul

This is my final tutorial in my apartment makeover series. We have these built-in bookshelves in our apartment, and, other than needing a new coat of paint, they’re actually really practical. I try to keep the collection as small as I can, but truth be told, I’m a bibliophile. My books are important to me, and I’m happy that we have a designated space for them. (Though we have a couple of “spill over” spaces for them, too!) We also have a modest DVD collection, so those shelves are pretty full.

A few weeks ago, some ideas started brewing in my brain, and I wanted to use the rest of the wood grain contact paper that was stashed in a corner of my craft closet. This year has been all about using the craft supplies I already have, and only buying the staple items that get used and run out on a regular basis. So, I thought I could make my own decals, maybe some silhouettes to put on the wall … then my eyes drifted to the bookshelf and I remembered seeing cute tutorials on covering the backs of bookshelves with craft paper. I thought, it would be even easier to use the contact paper! It only took a day or so to get it cut and finished. Here’s the end result, plus a nice view of my birthday card display:

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What you’ll need:

Contact paper (you can find it anywhere from Dollar Tree to Home Depot, depending on the style you want)

Good scissors

Measuring tape

Credit card or another flat, hard edge

How to make it:

1. Measure the back of your bookshelf. Decide whether you want a border around a hand cut design, or if you want to cover the entire area. If you want to cover the entire area, simply cut your contact paper to the correct measurement, peel, and stick. This may take a little practice, but luckily you can peel the contact paper off the surface and try again.

2. If you’ve decided to cut a design around the edges, turn your contact paper over. There should be a grid printed on the paper backing, and you can use that as your guide. Cut the paper to the correct measurement (be sure to allow an inch to an inch and a half for your design.)

3. Now you can begin cutting your design. I used alternating arches and triangles. Each arch was two squares high and two squares wide. Each triangle was smaller, at one inch tall and one inch wide. You can mark your design with a pen, which will ensure you don’t accidentally cut a triangle where there should be an arch, or, if you feel confident, you can just start cutting!

4. You can continue cutting your design on all four sides of your contact paper, or do what I did, and only cut three sides, so that it looks like the design is extending from one side of the bookshelf.

5. Be sure the surface you’re adhering the contact paper to is clean and dry. Finally, peel and stick your design to the bookshelf! Again, it may take a couple of tries, but that’s okay. The contact paper can withstand a couple of removals.

6. Smooth any bubbles out with a credit card by sliding the edge of the card from the center of the contact paper to the outside edge. Repeat until all the bubbles are gone.

This is a quick, easy project that will probably take you less time than it did me, unless you’re coming up with your own design, which could take a while. Experiment on a scrap piece of contact paper, then hold it up to the bookshelf to see what kind of design you like. The beauty of this project is that it’s not permanent, so if you change your mind, you don’t have to worry about paper sticking to the shelf or adhesive residue.

Gentle hugs,



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