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Decorating Shelves

Category Miscellaneous
Sometimes new decor additions can revive and personalize some older shelving.This is a guide about decorating shelves.


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March 19, 2015

Recently, I saw a beautiful fabric at the store. It was dark blue with light blue circles. I had some shelves that I found in our alley and didn't know what to do with them. I decided to recreate that pattern on the shelves. It was a pretty simple project. I love painting things that would normally be thrown away and making them nice again. You could use this pattern on tables, dressers, frames, etc. It's an inexpensive way to add a little pizzazz to your furnishings!

Total Time: A couple of hours, depending on size of project.


  • shelf, or something else you would like to paint
  • sandpaper
  • primer
  • paintbrushes
  • paint
  • some type of sealant
  • caps to make circles


  1. Sand your shelf (or whatever you are painting). This is important, to make sure the paint adheres. Wipe off all the dust.
  2. Prime your shelf. You could use spray paint or primer you paint on. I painted about 3 coats. Let primer dry between coats.
  3. Paint your shelf, any color you would like. I used a dark blue for the outside. It is a custom color. The inside and circles were made using Craft Smart Paint. The inside is "Neon Blue". The circles are "Pool Blue". Make sure that you let the paint dry between coats. I, also, painted 3 coats of the color.
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  5. Once dry, it's time to add the circles. Find some old bottle caps, marker caps, paint caps, etc. in whatever size you like. Dip the cap in a shallow amount of paint. Make sure that there's not too much. In a random pattern, add your circles. My 5 year old helped and had lots of fun applying the circles. We used 2 different sizes of caps.
  6. Once dry, you can add a sealer, if you would like. I did, because if the paint chips, the pattern would make it a little hard to do touch-ups. I used Krylon Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating. Again, I did 3 coats!
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  8. I was so happy to have a few extra shelves to display my kids' craft projects!
Comment Was this helpful? 5

Shauna Smith Duty1 found this helpful
June 23, 2005

An old shelving unit can be renewed to look like a designer accent piece with just a little ingenuity. Whether you want to give your tired shelves color and life for a child's room or make them look sophisticated for a library, this project will allow you to create a perfect one-of-a-kind look for your specific décor.


What you will need:


  1. Clean your old shelving unit and set it on a drop cloth.
  2. Sand any rough edges and imperfections to create a smooth surface, then wipe down the unit with a dry cloth.
  3. Paint three coats of white or base color latex onto the unit, allowing time to dry between coats.
  4. While the paint is drying, study your printed paper. Cut the paper into shapes you want to adhere to your shelves. For larger shelves, use larger shapes. A placemat can be used in its original form, but napkins and gift wrap should be cut into pieces that follow the printed design.
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  6. Once the shelves are dry, hold your paper shapes up to the unit to determine placement.
  7. Adhere the paper by painting Modge Podge onto the surface of your shelves in the area you want to place your paper. Then lay the paper against the tacky surface. Rub it flat with your fingers to remove air bubbles and wrinkles. Paint two layers of Modge Podge over the paper. Repeat until you have the desired amount of paper on your shelves.
  8. Finish your shelving unit with a coat of varnish to create a shiny surface, easy to clean.

This same application can be used on boxes, trunks, lamps, and other hard surfaces. Produce matching pieces by using the same printed paper on your shelves and accessories.

Comment Was this helpful? 1

By 0 found this helpful
April 14, 2009

To better showcase your knick-knacks, treasured keepsakes, and collectibles, paint the inside of bookcases, armories, etc. with a color which complements your collection. According to your own taste, use a vibrant color to add visual interest or choose a deeper shade of the paint in the room where it sits. Black is always good for a dramatic impact. The background draws attention to your books, collectibles, etc. Paint only the back and side walls, not the shelves. Wallpaper will also do the same thing.

By Sandy from Elon, NC

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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