DIY: Easy Fabric-Wallpapered Bookshelf

Written by Amy Ehmann of  Design Lotus

Creating a beautiful backdrop for a niche or bookcase can be fun, easy, and commitment-free. This fabric backer is affordable and makes a great alternative to permanent wallpaper. You can even try this in other areas of your home, like the back of a closet or lining the bottom of a drawer. If it gets dirty or you’re tired of it, you can easily peel the fabric off, give the wall a quick wipe down, and start fresh with a new fabric.

Click through for the step-by-step instructions

Fabric (I used the lovely design “Links” by Oscar and Emma)
• Measuring tape
• Scissors
• Sta-Flo Liquid Starch
• Roller and container
• Wallpaper smoothing tool
• Utility knife with new blades


1. Start with a clean space. Clear everything from the area you are working on and give the wall a wipe down.

2. Measure the space you’re working with and cut fabric to size. Leave about an extra inch of fabric on each side. If you’re working with a pattern, mark the center of both the space and the fabric. This will help you line up the fabric when you put it up on the wall.

3. Using the roller, apply the starch to the wall liberally. Line up the center of the the fabric and the center of the space and work outward. If the fabric is not staying up, use the roller to add more starch on the fabric. This part is very messy if you’re doing it right. The fabric should be entirely soaked when you’re done.

4. Use the wallpaper smoothing tool to sweep out the wrinkles and extra starch. Always work from the center out. Again, this part is very messy and you should end up with pools of liquid starch along the bottom surface. Now comes the hardest part of the project: waiting for the starched fabric to dry completely. I left it overnight.

5. When the fabric is dry, the edges should feel stiff. Use a very sharp utility blade to trim away the excess fabric from the edges. The corners can be a bit tricky, so take your time.

6. Don’t worry if the fabric lifts from the wall. I painted down all the corners and edges with a sponge brush and additional starch after everything was trimmed, just to seal the deal. Stand back and admire your hard work.

Once you’re done, style the space to your heart’s content. I used this shelf to display my favorite design books and magazines. Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.

  1. Jodie Cooper

    For best results, should the fabric be cotton? I have some silk fabric I would love on the walls, along with some printed polyester fabric. Will the outcome be the same using different fibers?

    • Hi Jodie – I would test a small piece on the wall before attempting the larger project. I think you should be fine as long as the fabric is absorbent. =)