I owned very few things beyond clothes and cookware when we moved into this apartment. Just a TV, some framed photos, some books, and two IKEA bookshelves.

Bookshelf beforeMy roommate and I had previously painted them this reddish color to go with her brown couch and green curtains. I was looking for something a little richer for our living room, though, and started trolling Pinterest for something inspiring, as you do.


bluebookshelfinspirationJackpot. I knew these bookshelves might be our only source of decoration for a while, so I thought I would paint them a rich peacock blue. Blue normally cools down a room, but there’s something about these shelves that is so inviting, don’t you think?

Photo Dec 02, 8 46 40 PMAfter some serious sanding and general jean-ruining, it was so satisfying to roll the paint on. No detail work, no stressing, just me, my paint roller, and a big, flat surface.

Photo Dec 08, 1 15 49 PMAh, so much better. The weird plasticky backboard of the ikea shelving was not going to take well to paint, so I decided wallpaper was the answer. But holy cow is pretty wallpaper expensive. No amount of “affordable wall paper” google searching was turning up any wallpaper I liked for less than $80 a roll. Which, yes, I get. It’s going on your walls and it has to be quality stuff but seriously. There was just no way. And that’s when I went off the deep end.

Photo Jan 17, 7 02 23 PMTwo bookshelves. Ten spaces to fill. What did I do? I drew a flower pattern by taping together four sheets of paper from my sketchbook, then traced it ten times over while standing in my window pressing the sheets of card stock up against the glass to make a light box situation. Obviously.

Photo Jan 17, 7 02 12 PM

Then I went over each pencil tracing in Prismacolor marker. You are going to ask how long this took. I cannot tell you this and look you in the eye, because who spends two weeks straight tracing flowers over and over to save eighty bucks? Poor people. Poor, stupidly picky people. Ahem. After a while it was like a kind of meditation. I could smell these flowers, friends. They are a part of my soul.

Photo Jan 20, 12 06 36 PMIn the end, I think it was worth it. Now we have beautiful blue bookshelves with a pretty (and cheap!) background that I don’t feel bad covering with books. And while no one will be mistaking these babies for anything other than their IKEA roots, I like them. The skinny, tall thing they have going on works with the room, and they look even better filled with all of our prettiest random stuff like old apple cider bottles and metallic pushpins. As long as I don’t think about how I literally made my hand twitch from tracing so much for so long, I almost don’t cry anymore when looking at them. Success!


8 thoughts on “The Bookshelves (or, how I gave myself arthritis to avoid buying wallpaper)

  1. jenusingword says:

    Enjoyed this very much! And I’m in need of some wallpaper or wrapping paper to do something similar to my bookshelves too. Your tracing idea is great and I might just be doing the same thing now! Thanks for the idea! Great work, be proud!!


    1. Becca says:

      Thank you so much, I’m glad you like it! Wrapping paper is such a good idea! I wonder if this time of year would be good for getting some cool paper on sale, or if it’s too late…hmmmm…


      1. jenusingword says:


        I’m checking this site out as we speak. Let me know whatcha think?! 🙂


      2. Becca says:

        I love zazzle! Such great patterns on that site!


      3. jenusingword says:

        Me too! It’s been pretty helpful so far! Yay!


  2. Beth says:

    This made me giggle. I would do the same thing! (I love the flowers, btw.)


    1. Becca says:

      Thank you! I felt like I was channeling you the whole time! Except no adorable Tommy around. Sad.


  3. Susan says:

    These shelves are beautiful. I saw them a couple of weeks ago. I was truly impressed with the flowered paper!


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