Use removable wallpaper from WallsNeedLove to make the back of any shelves or cabinet more bright and colorful.
I have a vintage 1940s cabinet that I love. It looks perfect in our mid-century home and fits exactly on the one wall in our dining room. It’s not too frilly, but it has some beautiful wood-working details.
The only thing I didn’t like about my cabinets was that it was dark inside. Any dishes or accessories I put in were hidden in the shadows of the dark wood. So while the cabinet itself looked great in our dining room, the shelves were a decorating black hole.
I had thought about papering the back of the cabinet for a long time. But we had used contact paper on the back of our girls’ bookshelf, and after a year or two, it look terrible. The contact paper was peeling off and slipping down. Plus, I didn’t want to put anything sticky in my vintage cabinet that might damage the wood.
So, the cabinet sat there for a while, looking dark and half-decorated. Until I found WallsNeedLove. They sell removable wallpaper that is not actually paper. It’s a vinyl fabric with an adhesive back. Which means it’s sturdy and it will come off completely when I want it to, not before. Plus, all of their patterns are created by artists, so I’m using art in my cabinet, not just wallpaper!
When the removable wallpaper arrived, I was really impressed by it’s thickness and feel. It’s definitely not just contact paper. They also included a razor to help with applying and trimming the wallpaper. I also ordered some easy-stripes for a future project (just a hint, it will be in the Star Wars nursery).
Installing the Removable Wallpaper
The back of each shelf is about 13 inches tall by 44 inches wide. I cut a piece of wallpaper about an inch larger than those measurements. That way I could cut off the extra and have the wallpaper fit exactly even if the shelf or my application was a little uneven.
I peeled of a small strip of the removable wallpaper backing on one end and lined that up with the end of the shelf. It’s a good thing that this wall paper can be removed and reapplied many times because it took me several tried to get it straight. Then I slowly peeled of more wallpaper backing and smoothed the wallpaper onto the cabinet.
My hands alone were not good enough for smoothing out the wallpaper while I was applying it. I ended up with lot of bubbles and creases. I needed a tool. A plastic spatula worked perfectly. This one happens to be a free spatula that came with some drywall mudding, but any thick plastic straight edge should work. A windshield ice scraper would be perfect too. I used my tool to slowly press the wallpaper onto the cabinet back, pushing out any air bubbles and smoothing out any creases as I went.
After the wallpaper piece was applied, I used the razor that came with my wallpaper. First, I used the blunt end the press the corners and edges all the way in. Then I trimmed those edges with the razor.
For the final shelf, I had fit several pieces of wallpaper together because there wasn’t a big enough piece left to cover the whole back. It was pretty easy to match up the pattern. I overlapped all of the pieces, then cut a slit down the middle of each piece. I peeled off the 2 excess strips and the wallpaper lined up perfectly.
The wallpaper looks great inside the cabinet and lets all of my pretty dishes and accessories show.
Adding Dishes and Accessories to Decorate
I used mainly blue and silver pieces to decorate the cabinet because those went well with the color scheme of my room. Those are my crayon-dipped candles in the cake stand on the upper right, and my brushed metal bowl with blue stripes on the bottom left.
There are many blogs that are better decorating experts and will give you some great tips on shelving displays. I just go with trial and error. All of my dishes and accessories go on a table nearby, and I put some in and look at it for a few days. Then I change things around, and live with it a few more days. It’s never quite finished.
I did decide that my cabinet needed a little greenery, so I bought a fake plant with blue/green leaves from Ikea.
I’m not so sure about the candlesticks without candles, but I love the shape of these candlesticks. And they go with the other silver accessories. What do you think?
I’m really happy with the removable wallpaper in the back of the cabinet. It lets all of my books, dishes, and accessories show and add color and personality to our dining room.
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