how to brighten bookshelves

This tutorial is not going to win any awards or set any pinterest records.

The ipad photos are low-quality and there aren’t any step by step photos.

Boy, I’m really selling it aren’t I?

You pumped? ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hang in there with me for a sec…

In spite of the low-buck production, I think it could be useful to someone.

Back in March, we went to Alabama to visit my parents.

In typical fashion, before my suitcase hit the floor my mom was asking me to re-do things.

My dad shudders in fear (ya know, because of his fear-a-change-a-phobia).

They have this pretty armoire flanked by bookcases.

It is a really nice piece that anchors the room well.

It’s normally not half-empty…I remembered to snap a photo in the middle of clearing it.


The problem?

It’s hard to tell since I brightened the photo considerably, but the bookshelves are very dark.

As in whatever is placed on them, gets lost in space.

Painting was out of the question.

I value my life, thankyouverymuch.

So I came up with an alternate, completely nondestructive solution.

I know it would be helpful to have photos for this part but I don’t.

I’ll do my best with simple instructions.


Materials needed: foam board, fabric, duct tape, exacto knife, scissors

1) Buy foam board (cheapest at Wal-Mart). (I think I bought 6 for this).

2) Buy enough fabric to cover the foam boards. (I bought osnaburg from Joann’s. It is cheap and looks like linen).

3) Measure the back of each shelf.

4) With an exacto knife, cut the foam board to fit. (The width of foam board wasn’t wide enough for these shelves so I used excess foamboard and duct taped it together. Similar to this)

5) You will need to cut just a little shy of your measurement to accommodate for the thickness of the fabric.

6)ย Trim the fabric so that it’s just a bit bigger than the foam board with about 3-4 inches to spare. Wrap the foam board with the fabric and as you tuck the extra around on the back…just fold the corners and tape the flap down with duct tape similar to when you wrap a gift. Secure with duct tape here and there so that the fabric is taut and wrinkle free all the way around.

7) Pop the foam board into the shelf until it reaches the back. It should fit snuggly and therefore stand alone. No adhesive needed.


Isn’t the difference incredible?

Even with the crappy, grainy photos? ๐Ÿ˜‰

b&a copy

Just look how those accessories stand out against the lighter background.

In addition, it makes the piece look much more current.

This solution:

>>cost under $20

>>is completely customizable (imagine all of the fabric possibilities!)

>>is non destructive

>>is easily removable

Best of all?

My mom loved it and my dad didn’t wig.


Enjoy your Monday, everybody.

My big excitement for the day? Jake is driving me to Hobby Lobby. It sure is nice to have my baby boy home from college (Dean’s List BOTH semesters, btw…sorry just proud as punch) to chauffeur ย me around. One more week till I can drive. Woo hoo!

10 Responses to how to brighten bookshelves

  1. Stacey May 20, 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    So much better. I can imagine your dad not wigging because it seems that many men wouldn’t. Lightening up is always better though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Kim May 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    I did the same exact thing three years ago to the back of my bookcase, which is the same exact one they have, but I know longer have, with burlap. Makes a huge difference.

  3. cindy the cottage chick May 20, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    Totally updated! Love. I do this with fabric too, but not as much as I should. Such an easy fix for my decorating ADD. Congrats on your son’s acheivements!

  4. kathy May 20, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Awesome on both accounts!

  5. kristin May 20, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Oh I love it!!! We have that same set, too funny! We gave the armoire to our friends and I painted the rest, such a great piece.

  6. Rachel May 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Great idea! It looks so much brighter and up to date.

  7. Leah Stirewalt May 22, 2013 at 1:13 pm #

    Love this! What a creative “bright” idea. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Erin May 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm #

    Great simple fix! It really makes a difference and I love the styling:)

  9. Stacey@ A Sort Of Fairytale May 22, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

    great idea and they look sooooo much better!

  10. Marianne in Mo. June 6, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Love it! BTW, my husband is just like your dad. Hard to live with when I have so many ideas floating in my brain! I mostly just do my thing and let him whine. He usually comes around, eventually!

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