Hey y’all! I don’t know about you, but I hate (with a deep, searing passion) white walls. I grew up in a home that had color on the walls. I owned a home that had a nice beige (oddly the builder’s color wasn’t bad…I was pleased) throughout but even then I added my own touches with a chocolate brown accent wall and a nice retro blue bathroom. Basically, I love color.

Well, enter the Hubs. Back then he wasn’t The Hubs he was The Boy. And I loved him – still do, just much, much more. Anywho, he loves color too…but when we moved in to our apartment it was white. As in all white. Seriously. Everything. Walls, carpets, trim, ceilings. It’s like living in that white box challenge on HGTV’s Next Design Star. I think you get the point. And we can’t paint. Well, that’s not entirely true. We can paint with permission but Hubby doesn’t like the idea of painting a place we don’t own. I can understand that and respect it (who wants to paint in the midst of moving…especially when you don’t own the place? Not me!).

But I’ve reached my limit. I can’t stand white anymore. So starting at the end of December I starting thinking. And then the thinking turned into hatching a plan. And then the hatching turned into telling the Hubs about the plan (he’s used to this by now, but I’m sure it strikes a little fear into his heart each time I come to him with, “So I had an idea…”). Then I had to buy the supplies. And I had to be patient and wait for sales. I hate waiting, but I did it.

So let’s get down to business shall we?

We have a nice apartment and within our nice, little apartment we have some actually fairly nice built in bookshelves and cabinetry. With white walls inset. So as I said, in December I started looking at those white insets and starting thinking. In my head I pictured color in there. I saw a nice blue or green to complement the rest of the decor in the living room/dining room. Voila! I’ll make fabric panels to go in there! And so I did. And you can too! It’s easy and doesn’t take long.

Here’s the before:

Dressing shelves isn’t my strong suit either, but I’m working on that too. Anyone have a good resource for how to do it?
See all that white? Annoying right? Yeah, I thought so. 
So here’s what you’ll need to complete the project: 
From L to R: Foam core boards, X-acto knife, tape measure, Command Picture hanging strips, hot glue gun and a fabric of your choice.

Step 1: Measure your space. Do it more than once. Trust me on this. Once you start cutting it’s not impossible to fix (as you’ll see soon) but it eats up time that you could be doing something more fun like eating chocolate. You’ll want to measure the length and height of each area you want to cover. My project was a little more complicated because each space between the shelves was a different height. If you have only one set of measurements it should go pretty quickly.
Step 2: Cut your foam core down into the sizes you need. For my project I cut the foam board for each section of shelf together. 
Then you’ll do a dry fit. Keep in mind that almost no house or wall or building is perfectly square. You’ll probably need to trim here and there with the X-acto to make it fit snugly, but you’ll need to leave a small amount of room for fabric thickness. I did not pad the panels with anything, but you could cover it with batting for a more padded effect, just remember to adjust your cuts so that you have room for the board to fit snug after you cover it.
During your dry fit you’ll probably move the boards around (flip, turn, slide!) until you have the fit you want. Hopefully (I pray for you dear reader…) you won’t see this:
See that nice gap in between my panels? Yeah…never use a tape measure upside down. I had such a large length to cover that I needed to meet two of them in the middle exactly. I did this by measuring the entire length (54 inches) and dividing by two (26.75 inches). Worked great until I realized during the dry fit that I had measured the foam core board to 25.75 instead…and got that nasty little gap.
No worries though, just grab some of this:
And tape the chunk you cut off, back on like this:
And re-cut. Then try your dry fit again. If all goes the way you want and everything fits correctly you’re ready for fabric. Remember, I had four shelves with 4 different measurements so it took me awhile to cut all the boards and dry fit them. I was up and down from floor to stool many times. Your mileage may vary. 
Scrappy’s Tip Corner: Once you get the boards where you want make sure you mark them “Front” and “Left” or “Right” on the back and an up arrow for which end us up. Trust me on this. Once the fabric is on, they look exactly the same. I made this mistake on the first set of panels. It took some wiggling on my part to make it work. The word Front will get covered by fabric, but you’ll still see your L/R and arrow. It helps a lot!

Step 3: Cover your Panels.
The width of fabric you get and the size of your panels will determine how many panels you can fit into one yard of fabric. I bought 4 yards of 54″ width fabric so and based on the varying widths of fabric, I could fit three panels per yard. (I actually ended up with over a yard of the fabric left which will be used in another decor project for the room!) It looked like this:
Remember that you’re going to need to pull the fabric taut around the board so you’ll need some overlap. I laid all the panels out on one yard of fabric at a time. Once you get things laid out you can cut around them and then glue the fabric on. It’ll look like this on the back:
You’ll probably need to cut the excess fabric off from where things overlap so that it’ll stay flush with the wall. I trimmed and then glued down the edges so that it would lay as flat as possible. This is what each panel looked like when they were completed:
Step Four: Add the Command hooks and fit the panels.
I must admit to you dear reader that I was a bad blogger and forgot to grab a picture of the Command hooks on the back of the panel. Basically I added two picture hangers to the back of each foam core board in the white space still exposed. Then I refit them using the L/R and arrows to help me figure out where they went. 
Then I redressed the shelves, paring down some items and rearranging others, grabbing decor from my stash of candles and votives. Then I added these to the underside of each shelf and the ceiling up top:
These are Energizer stick up LED lights. They come with their own adhesive strips, but I couldn’t risk damage to the shelves or ceiling so I opted to add another command strip on the back. It’s a little long (read: you can see the tab still), but I’m willing to overlook that. 
Remember what this looked like before?
And now:

And with the living room/dining room lights off:
I love it. It makes me smile just seeing a little color every morning. And the lights add such a nice glow to the small space. I’m still considering adding a second light and moving the original so that there is a pool of light in the middle of each panel, but we’ll see. I’m happy with the way it is for now. 
And the best part is, when we move, I just pop the panels out and remove the command strips! 
What have you been up to this month?
This post is part of Thrifty Decor Chick’s Before and After Party for the month of February. Why not head over there and get a little inspiration?
Also posted to Blue Cricket Design Show and Tell Wednesday:
Show and Tell Green
And Hookin’ Up With House of Hepworths:

The Lettered Cottage



  1. I did something similar in my old built in kitchen cabinet, but used cherry print vinyl on back walls, and red on the shelves. Love the way you added lights!

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