Decorating & Design

October 23, 2015

DIY: Bookshelf Redux

Senior editor Morgan Michener shares step-by-step instructions on how to dress up a bookshelf with decorative backing.

DesignEd_Stock_2014_Morgan_0916-crop2_HH_AU14_11One of the best parts of my job is getting inspired by the homes we feature. After seeing how designer Silvana D’addazio lined her bookshelves with wallpaper edged in rust-colored ribbon (H&H, January 2014), I decided to put my own spin on it with fabric. It looks luxe, but is as easy as wrapping a present or re-covering a seat cushion. Here’s what I did:


You’ll need masonite boards, fabric, staple gun, ribbon, straight edge, sharp scissors, glue gun.

Step 1: Cut Panels

Measure the width of the bookshelf and the height of the space between each of the shelves. Subtract 1⁄4″ from the width and heights to calculate the dimensions of each panel. (Making them 1⁄4″ smaller will help them slide into the bookshelves.) Cut panels of Masonite to these dimensions or have a hardware store cut the pieces for you.

Step 2: Prep Fabric

Pick a fabric to cover the panels and cut into pieces about 2″ larger than the panels on all sides. I used plain silk, which has texture but isn’t too thick. If using a patterned fabric, be careful to line up the print across the panels. Iron the fabric for an extra-smooth finish. For the trim, use grosgrain or velvet ribbon instead of silk; they have a bit more heft and are easier to work with.

Step 3: Cover Panels

Lay each piece of fabric facedown on a clean surface. Center the coordinating panel on top, and fold one longer edge of the fabric over the top edge of the panel as tightly as possible. Staple in place. Fold the opposite long edge of the fabric over the bottom edge of the panel, and staple in place. Fold in the remaining fabric corners over the sides of the panel, as you would gift wrap, and staple in place. Repeat to cover all panels with fabric.

Tip: Wrap the corners as neatly as possible for a tight, clean look.

Step 4: Place Vertical Ribbons

Lay the covered panels face up on the floor. Measure in 1″ to 2″ from each side and lay the ribbon in place on each panel, using a straight edge to keep it in line and snipping the ribbon off at the edge of each panel. Secure each length of ribbon on its panel with a dot of hot glue in the center of the ribbon.

Step 5: Place Horizontal Ribbons

Measure in the same distance from the top and bottom of each panel and place a length of ribbon there with the help of a straight edge. Secure each length of ribbon with a dot of hot glue in the center. Using sharp dressmaker’s scissors, trim all ribbon ends so they form a square or mitred corner. Glue down each corner with hot glue. Let dry. Slide panels into place.

Author: Morgan Michener

Valerie Wilcox


Ribbon, Mokuba; fabric, Designer Fabrics; Masonite boards, The Home Depot


House & Home April 2014