Fabric-Backed Bookcase

Now that we have a baby boy on the way, I decided it was time to re-do Myla’s room - giving her a “big girl” room - since we need the crib and other furniture for the nursery. Myla, super-lucky girl that she is, inherited my bedroom furniture from my young teen years. It’s a beautiful, white, vintage-country-esqe style. It’s much like what you see advertised for young girls and teens in Pottery Barn. (Glad I had such good taste so many years ago… wink, wink). It’s in pretty good shape and sure to grow with her throughout the years… which is exactly why I finally decided to finish her unfinished bookcase. 

Finished bookcase.

I actually got this bookcase years and years ago… it’s made its way through my many apartments and different rooms throughout our old house before it landed in her nursery. Since I knew the nursery was only going to last a few years, I decided to hold off painting it until now.

I thought it would look best if I painted it to match the furniture - PLUS I wanted to add a splash of color to her room. But, I didn’t want to paint the bookcase itself with a ‘pop’ color, but instead add a color backing to it that would be visible when viewing it from the front. And, I wanted to make sure that I could always change out that ‘pop’ of color if Myla decides that she wants to re-do her room down the road.

I started by filling in the screw holes on the bookcase with wood filler and painting the entire bookcase with a primer. I followed that up with two coats of paint that I matched to the furniture (an off-white, slightly creamy color) and finished it off with a spray clear, gloss coat. (Don't worry, I used the spray finish outside and wore a respirator to protect the lil' bub in my tum - it's probably a good idea to wear one even if you're not pregnant... those fumes were wicked). 

For the backing, I picked up some fabric that matched some colors in the quilt for her bed. A bright pink with polka dots seemed like the perfect fabric to not only add a ‘pop’ of color, but also some fun, to her room. Next, I went to the hardware store and bought a sheet of plywood which I had them cut down to size (slightly smaller than the actual width of the bookcase and long enough to cover the openings in the bookcase). 

Once I brought it home and tested it against the bookcase, I cut the fabric a bit bigger than the board. I mixed together Modge Podge and water (about a 1:1 ratio) so it looked like milk. I used a large, old paintbrush and spread it over the entire piece of wood. Then I carefully laid the fabric down on top, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases in the fabric. Once set in place, I brushed another layer of the Modge Podge mixture on top of the fabric making sure it soaked completely through. Once dry, I applied one more layer of the Modge Podge mixture. 

After I let that dry overnight, I used a piece of sandpaper to rub along the edge just enough to break the fabric fibers, while slightly tugging on the hanging fabric, leaving a perfect edge around the board. After that, it was simply a matter of laying the bookcase down, positioning the backer board (nailing in diagonal corners first to make sure it was square) and then nailing around the rest about every 6-8 inches. 

What I love about doing a bookcase this way, is that I can always pull the backer board off and apply a new fabric color on a new piece of plywood without ruining the painted part of the bookcase. I loved this bookcase so much that I just ordered one (although shorter) for baby boy’s nursery (from Wood Bin in Brookfield, CT). I will once again wait until his “big boy” room to finish it to match the furniture we buy for him then.

I also used the same fabric to make simple curtains for her windows (hung with tension rods - I love the wide molding too much to cover it). I still have extra fabric which I plan on using to make a few toss pillows or covering some frames for some artwork we created. We’ll see how far I can stretch the leftover fabric.