How to Update a Boring Bookcase with Wrapping Paper

Learn how to update a boring bookcase with wrapping paper for a fun pop of color and pattern!

Messy Home Office that Lacks Storage


If there’s one thing I knew I needed to add when I started thinking about sprucing up my home office, storage was it. I was doing my best with the extra rag tag pieces I had gathered up from around our house, but they just weren’t cutting it anymore.

My plastic drawer unit was collapsing under the weight of all of the junk I was storing on top of it. I had covered every available surface with a haphazard mess of stuff. And there was no rhyme or reason to the way I had things stored– I was just using the “stick it wherever it will fit” method, which was not working out all that well, as you can see from the photo above.

So I set out to find a sensible storage solution that would help me corral everything I needed to keep in my office, while also looking pretty too. And I may be just a little giddy about the solution I came up with.

An Easy Way to Update a Boring Bookcase

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.

Before I could even start shopping around for storage options, I had to figure out exactly what I needed to store.

I sorted everything out by type so I could see what I was working with… It definitely got worse before it got better!

Messy home office with items separated by category

With my items sorted into categories, I began decluttering ruthlessly. I threw away/recycled items that were no longer usable. I donated things that were still in good shape but that I wouldn’t need myself. And I relocated items that had been thrown into my office but really were better stored elsewhere.

(And while the room was in upheaval, I decided to give it a fresh coat of paint– Behr Gentle Rain, to be exact!)

After decluttering, I could clearly see what needed to be stored, so I could finally make a plan for how to store it best.

Choosing a Bookshelves + Cube Unit Combination

I ended up with a lot of craft and office supplies that I needed to store in a neat and tidy way. I looked at tons of pictures of home office storage to figure out what setup would work well for holding these items and looking pretty too.

In the end, I chose with two plain white bookshelves with a small cube unit between them. I liked the combination of open shelving so I could easily access my supplies + pretty storage bins to corral and hide some things out of sight so that it didn’t look cluttered.

My storage pieces didn’t look very exciting when I first put them together, but I had a plan that I knew would be both easy and impactful at the same time.

How to Add Wrapping Paper to the Back of a Bookshelf for a Pop of Color

As Donnie and I were assembling my very plain bookshelves, I had the idea to add a pop of color and pattern to the backing to spruce it up a little bit.

The backing was just a plain white cardboard-ish type sheet. And since I hadn’t attached it yet, it was really easy to doctor it up.

Plain white bookshelf backing

Step 1- Choose a backdrop.

I set out to find the perfect background for my bookshelves. I happen to come across a pretty floral patterned wrapping paper in my favorite mint/aqua color at Target, and I knew it was just what I wanted.

Even more

Bookshelf Backdrop Ideas

Step 2- Adhere the wrapping paper to the backing.

There were several different ways I could have attached the wrapping paper, but I just went with the simplest one– double-sided tape.

I first used the tape to attach the wrapping paper to the top of the bookshelf backing. Then I would place a few more pieces of double-sided tape about 8″ down the backing, unroll the wrapping paper, and attach it, smoothing it down.

I repeated that process until the entire thing was covered! So easy!

Covering the backing of a white bookcase with mint wrapping paper

I covered the backings for both bookcases, and each one only took me about five minutes!

What if the backing is already attached to the bookshelf?

If you’re working with a bookshelf that has already been assembled, you have a few options.

  • If you can pry off the backing without ruining it, that will be the easiest way to cover the whole piece at once.
  • But if removing the backing is not realistic, one option would be to cut a separate rectangle of wrapping paper for each section of the bookshelf and adhere each section separately.
  • If you think you might like to change up the backdrop from time to time, consider adhering the wrapping paper to a piece of foam board, cut to the measurements of each shelf section of your bookcase. Then when it’s time to switch it up, just re-cover the foam board.

Step 3- Attach the backing to the bookshelves.

As you can see in the photo below, the backing is just sitting behind the bookshelves; we hadn’t attached it yet.

Bookshelves with a Mint Wrapping Paper Background

We wanted to add crown molding to the top of the bookshelves to give them a more built-in look, so we completed that project before we attached the backing.

Pieces of crown molding and measuring tape sitting on top of a cube unit for a DIY project

If you’re not adding anything else to your bookshelves, you can go ahead and attach the backing as soon as you’re done adding wrapping paper. We just used the small nails that came with the bookshelves + a hammer to adhere the backing to the bookcase.

Here’s a peek at how the final shelves turned out:

Built-in bookshelves with crown molding and a wrapping paper backdrop holding home office accessories and craft supplies

Update a Boring Bookcase: Final Thoughts

This was such a simple project, but it really did make a big impact on the space! Wrapping paper is an inexpensive way to update a boring bookcase and take the entire space to the next level. (And it’s easy to choose a background that fits right in with your personal style!)

If you feel like your home office, study, or den could use a little something, give this simple project a try!

[Psssttt… You can find ideas for organizing every single room of the house in this post!]

Updating a Bookcase: Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few ideas for how to modernize old bookshelves:

Here are a few easy tips for staging a bookcase like a pro:

  • Use a combination of books lined up vertically and books stacked horizontally.
  • When stacking books horizontally, start with the widest book on the bottom, and add narrower books on top.
  • Place a small bowl or tchotchke on top of horizontally stacked books to ground them.
  • Break up all of the books with interesting decor pieces.
  • Consider color coding books for a stunning visual effect.
  • Remember the “rule of three”– the eye is drawn to items in groupings of odd numbers, especially threes.

Other than the obvious– books!– here are some things to use to decorate bookshelves:

  • Vases
  • Picture frames
  • Demijohns
  • Candles
  • Plants/flowers (real or faux)
  • Lanterns
  • Mirrors
  • Small boxes or baskets
  • Bowls with filler
  • Orbs
  • Small signs

Learn more about how to style bookshelves here.

Want to save this post to revisit later? Be sure to pin the image below so you can find it easily!

How to Update a Boring Bookcase

Have you done any simple DIYs lately? I want to hear about it!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you’re having a great week!

Abby Lawson at Abby Organizes,

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.


  1. Emily @ My Love for Words says:

    It’s coming along beautifully! I love the color scheme.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, friend! Hooray for girly colors! 😀 Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  2. Renee Beaucage says:

    Woooo!! So much fun!!! haha keep up the great work!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks, Renee! I feel like there is so much to do, but baby steps are happening! 😀 Hope you’re having a great night!

      ~Abby =)

      1. In fact, I spent my night trying to reposition all the furniture and pieces I have in my office. Still not happy with it, but I’ll get it eventually!

  3. April Hoff says:

    Looks AWESOME, Abby! Can’t wait for next Wednesday! 🙂 Oh! And pink trim? Pink? People are so crazy!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Um, seriously. There were more pink rooms in this house when we moved in than I ever wished to see in my life. And I LOVE pink…just not like that! Thanks so much for your sweet words, my friend! Have a great night!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Katie @ Made to be a Momma says:

    Looking great Abby! The Hubby and I are going to be redoing our dining room this summer and I am itching to get started…he wants to wait till school is done for the summer though. It’s always excited to redesign and decorate a room!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Oooh, I can’t wait to see your dining room re-do! I’m sure it will be fabulous! Thanks for your sweet comment, my friend!

      ~Abby =)

  5. Krista @the happy housie says:

    Great start Abby- it is going to look amazing!!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks so much, Krista! I feel like we still have a LONG way to go, but one step at a time, right?! 😀

      ~Abby =)

  6. Suzanne J Dean says:

    Love the colors…so pretty & cheery! Its so nice to have a room to work in that reflects you. I’m recovering from my breast surgery from yesterday which gives me lots of time to read my fave blogs with no guilt about my time 🙂 Hugs your way!!


    1. justagirlabby says:

      I have been thinking about you, my friend! How did everything go? Praying recovery is easy on you! HUGS!!!

      ~Abby =)

  7. So fun, Abby! I’ve just completely rearranged our office/guest room in hopes of updating it. Your space is great inspiration! Maybe I should post as I go, too…. you’re right. There is a TON of work that goes into updating a room and I can’t wait to see yours done!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Ooh yay for rearranging! I know whatever you come up with will be stunning, Miss Amy! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  8. This is coming along so well, so excited for ya! I’m actually finding this so fun since we’re both doing our craft room/offices at the same time. Did you about cry after all the painting? I swear my hands couldn’t grasp ANYTHING the next day LOL I LOVE the cute wrapping paper on the backing, such a cute idea! And I TOTALLY hear ya on the overwhelming-ness of multiple projects. I started on my room while still trying to finish up my girl’s Frozen room. Ugh, not smart on my part, but too late to stop now!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Girl, I had blisters! I didn’t remember painting being so painful! Geesh! I need a preview of your room stat! It sounds like it’s going to be so cute!

      ~Abby =)

      1. Blisters, are you serious?! Ugh, so sorry girl! I’ll email some (scary) pics soon 😀 I’m trying so hard to get TONS done on it this weekend …we’ll see if it really works out that way LOL My next step is adding some vinyl decor along a top border…..proving more frustrating than I’d planned. Hope your weekend is going FANTASTIC!

  9. Selene Galindo says:

    It’s looking awesome!! I’m like you… I get overwhelmed thinking of what’s still left to do but once its all finished the waiting seems well worth it! I’m so excited for your space!!!

  10. Kendra @ says:

    It is looking great already, Abbey! Love the background on those shelves. We tackled our master bedroom…. I will have to do a blogpost! I look forward to the day I don’t have to be scared if company will open the door by chance! Lol

  11. Shannah @ Just Us Four says:

    I love this! You never see offices like this!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Lol! I guess I’m just not afraid to subject people to my mess! 😉 Thanks so much, Shannah! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  12. Michelle @ Elegance & Enchantment says:

    I’m so obsessed with room reveals, especially home offices. I’m so glad that you’re giving us a peek into everything that happens in between. I can tell already that it’s going to be beautiful. Looking forward to following along, and of course seeing the final product!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Michelle! You are the sweetest! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  13. Oh, how pretty!! Can’t wait to see it come along!!~~Angela

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Angela! It’s getting there slowly but surely! 😉 Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  14. Sonnet @ SohoSonnet Creative Living says:

    GREAT COLOR!! I love this already, the book shelves are gorgeous and awesome idea to use wrapping paper for the backs. Can’t wait to see you check off the rest of the to do list 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Sonnet! It’s coming along slowly but surely! Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  15. How exciting! I recently finished my “Fabulously Feminine” home office and cant wait to see yours once its finished. Its great how you are sharing the process with us!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      How fun! Yay for girly office spaces! 😀 Enjoy your weekend, Irina!

      ~Abby =)

  16. I love these bookshelves! I just lined some last week with wrapping paper and I had NO idea it was so easy!

    Can’t wait to follow along…I’m trying to decide what direction to go with my craft room/office, too!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear ya! I love it when a project is EASIER than I thought it would be– usually it’s the other way around, lol! Hope you had a wonderful weekend, Amber!

      ~Abby =)

  17. Jennifer @ Brave New Home says:

    Loving all those colors! Can’t wait for the next post.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Jennifer! It has been a fun project so far– we’ll see how it turns out! Have a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  18. Alexis @ Persia Lou says:

    I am working on my office space right now too. That whole organizing and getting rid of stuff part is not my favorite. Love the wrapping paper on the back of the cabinets!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you, Alexis!! I can’t wait to check out your office! Hope you’re having a great week!

      ~Abby =)

  19. Hi Abby
    This is looking wonderful. I love the wrapping paper backing, great idea. I have a bookshelf that I was planning to toss but I think I want to try your idea first. Thanks for sharing.

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks, Angel! Yes, the backing is so easy and I think it makes such a difference! Good luck if you decide to try it! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  20. Stephanie @ The Styled Soul says:

    Abby, it’s looking awesome! I so need to tackle my office, it’s on my list. Seeing what you’re doing totally inspires me. Thanks for sharing!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thank you so much, Stephanie! You are the sweetest! Hope you’re having a wonderful week!

      ~Abby =)

  21. Pingback: Fancy Bookshelves with Crown Molding {Fabulously Feminine Home Office- Update #3} - Just a Girl and Her Blog
  22. Did you use wallpaper or wrapping paper for the backings? I’m going to be a copycat and do this in my girls playroom but put an extra shelf in the centre and a tv : ) We are in desperate need of storage and organization! Awesome idea, looks great!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Thanks, Glendeen! I think we talked on Facebook, but just in case, it’s wrapping paper– just the regular stuff from Target! Hope you’re having a great weekend!

      ~Abby =)

  23. Hi,

    Great looking office. Where did you find the aqua storage bins? My office is the same color. I love it.

  24. Laura Tarlo says:

    I love this whole project tutorial…I can’t wait to give it a try for my little girls room…this couldn’t have been better timing as I was getting ready to spend ALOT more money with another vendor….thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. justagirlabby says:

      Yay! So glad it was helpful! Thank you so much for visiting my blog, Laura!

      ~Abby =)

  25. Hi Abby — I am just getting ready to re-do my office space. Hope it turns out as “fabulously feminine” as yours did. So beautiful!! One question for you….. for the backing on your bookshelves, did you use “wrapping” paper or “wall” paper? It looks fantastic and I would like to do something similar but I think your post mentioned both kinds of paper so I want to make sure I pick the right type. Thanks!!

  26. WOW. Just wrapping paper plus some crown moulding makes this look AMAZING. So chic and feminine and stylish. And it’s cheap and most importantly – easily doable. Thanks for sharing this!!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      Thanks so much, Emily! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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