Ikea Bookshelves Makeover with Wallpaper and Paint

Makeover Ikea bookshelves with wallpaper and paint

Boy, I’ve missed y’all! I had to take a little blog-break so I could soak in the last little bit of summer vacation with my boys before school started back. I went to the Haven Conference at the beginning of the month (which was fantastic, by the way) and had the opportunity to take a painting class with Marian of Miss Mustard Seed and Shaunna of Imperfectly Perfect. This has led to a furniture painting frenzy over past few weeks. I also picked up some gorgeous balusters that I’m using to make a table for the living room. So while I’m in the process of making the table, I wanted to show you guys a living room project from my pre-blogging days, an Ikea bookshelves makeover with wallpaper and paint. 

This was our living room back in 2006. It really needed more storage so racked my brain for months on how I could add built-ins on both sides of the fireplace.


Then came along Ikea’s Lack bookshelves for $99.00 each. They were 15″ deep, about 41.5″ wide, chunky, sturdy…perfect for either side of our fireplace. At the time, my design style was all about being warm, cozy, masculine and more on the modern side so I went with the expresso finish.

Ikea Lack Bookcases before
Great bookshelves, but they made that end of the room feel heavy and dark. So, instead of ditching my cheapo laminate bookshelves, I sanded, painted them with primer and  2 coats of oil based white paint. I had the guys at the home improvement store cut down a sheet of tempered hardboard to fit the backs of both bookcases. I made holes for the wall outlets and electronics with a jigsaw and hole saw drill bit. Then I primed and wallpapered the hardboard using a shimmery, metallic grasscloth wallpaper. I ran the wallpaper on the horizontal instead of the vertical so I wouldn’t have a seam running down the center of bookshelves. To protect the wallpaper from dirt and dust, I gave it coat of non-yellowing polyurethane.

Here are the holes I cut out for the bookcase on the right side of the fireplace that holds the stereo and DVR.


To the left of this bookcase, you can see the mantle that hides the wires that run from the TV. By the way, we don’t use the fireplace, so we don’t have to worry about the heat damaging the wires or TV. 

White Ikea Bookshelves and Ikea lightsThe holes in the bookcase on the left side of the fireplace are hidden with a picture and a crate turned on its side.
White Ikea bookshelves
how to hide cords in a bookcase
Ikea recently discontinued the Lack bookcases, but Ana White shows how you can build one for about $30.00 in this tutorial.
Ikea Lack Bookcase plans by Ana White
And just so you can see what a difference paint and grasscloth wallpaper made for our Ikea bookshelves, I’ll give you some more before and afters:
Ikea bookcase before

Ikea-bookcase-makeoverIkea Lack Bookcases before

White Ikea bookcases makeover

TIP: If I had to paint the bookcases again, I would choose latex instead of oil-based paint. Oil-based paint tends to yellow over time and that’s exactly what’s happening to my bookcases. 🙁
I’ll be back later this week to show you some before and after pictures from when we opened up our living room to our adjacent kitchen!
Tricia signatureLove grasscloth? I also put grasscloth wallpaper up in our hallway above the board and batten back in the spring. Click the photo below to see the details.

board and batten hallway with gallery shelves

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  1. I love how your bookshelves turned out. I was wondering what you use for the shelf under your TV. I am looking for a way to hide my TV cords.

  2. it was worth the wait! you have inspired me to do something similar on the boring wall next to my fireplace because I desperately need attractive storage for my books!

  3. I am loving what you have done – it looks like a completely different room – oh the joys of white paint and gorgeous wallpaper!

    • Thanks so much, Petra! Yes, I do love what a little paint and wallpaper can make. This project is what helped me get over my wallpaper-a-phobia!

  4. Your bookshelves look great. I like the black LETTERS box on the top shelf. Is it metal or what, & where did you find it?

  5. I love me a good bookcase makeover and yours is a great one! Love how much brighter they make your room feel.

  6. Tricia it looks SO good. I’m so obsessed with grass cloth right now, and I LOVE what a difference it adds. So much texture, my eyes could just eat it up!

  7. They look stunning now Tricia – the backing is so pretty with its soft colour and texture. And the whole room looks awesome with your fab board and batten! What a transformation over the past few years:)

    • Glad you like it, Krista! I showed my husband the before pictures the other day and his words were, “Is that our house?”. Even my husband that doesn’t notice change can’t believe the difference. 🙂

  8. I love this whole makeover in this room. the wall treatment and yes, of course, your “new” shelving. amazing!

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