Shelf makeover with fabric

Since my husband is now working from home and school is out for the summer, it is harder for me to come by “alone time.” So my husband and I agreed to change our guest bedroom into an office space for me (it has a door!)

I wanted to keep the space clutter-free and light feeling. I was thinking of adding a turquoise colored rug with a geometric design.

And guess what! We were at my aunts’ house recently and when we were there, I saw a rug rolled up, leaning against the wall. I took a peek and it was exactly what I was looking for! My aunt had ordered it for their living room but it didn’t end up matching and she couldn’t return it so she generously offered it to me!

I bought a couple of other things for the room but wanted to repurpose a shelf that we already had that had been demoted to the basement. It was one of those plain white shelves that you can get for around $20.

I wanted to give it some personality by adding fabric to the back for a pop of color. Now I’m going to share how you can do your own shelf makeover to update a shelf like this!


To update your shelf, you will need:

  • a shelf with removable backing
  • fabric to cover the back
  • spray adhesive
  • hot glue
  • a hammer and something to pry the back off

First I enlisted the help of my husband to take off the back of the shelf. He used a mini pry bar and a hammer to accomplish this. I would have been able to remove the back, but he was in a helping kind of mood, so I happily accepted his offer.
Next, I laid the fabric over the backing and cut a piece to fit, leaving 2-3 inches overhanging the edges all the way around to fold over and secure to the back.

Take the back of the shelf, the fabric and spray adhesive to a well-ventilated area. Spray a generous amount of the adhesive onto the front of the shelf back (the part that you will see behind the shelves when it’s reassembled.) Line up the fabric the best you can so that the pattern is straight and then press it down, smoothing as you go.

After the fabric is secured to the shelf back, cut notches out of the four corners so when fabric is folded over and glued to the back, it lays nice and flat.
Then fold it over to the back and use hot glue to secure.
shelf foldover
My shelf will be against the wall, so I didn’t mind leaving the back unfinished. If you will be able to see the back of your shelf, you could use another piece of fabric and glue it on the back of the shelf back. Using a sewing machine to make a nice seam around the edges before gluing it on would give it a finished look.
Once your glue is dry, it’s time to put on the shelf back. Use a hammer and nails (a staple gun would probably work too) to reattach it. I reused the nails that were originally used to hold the back on.
Insert your shelves and you’ve just added some personality to a boring shelf!

I even had some fabric left over to cover a pillow for my chair. Score!


Add some baskets for storage and some decorations and call it a day!


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