Learn how to update shelves in just a few minutes with a clever trick that uses a common craft supply. You’ll add pizzazz to plain shelves even if you don’t have time to paint!
There’s a reason that laminate shelves are so cheap: their looks are as fragile as the Real Housewives. Grease, grime, heat, and overexposure to direct sunlight turn the shelves’ white veneer yellow over time.
That’s exactly what happened to the utilitarian white laminate shelves that our home’s previous owners left behind. Since I couldn’t toss “perfectly good” shelves in the trash, I moved them to our craft area to provide much-needed storage.
But before we get to how and why the old shelves look so much better now, let’s take a moment see the shelves’ original location.
I took this photo just before we closed on our house. The shelves we’re talking about today were part of an office nook on the first floor, adjacent to the powder room. You’ll be happy to know that the powder room’s lovely early 90’s wallpaper is long gone.
There are loads of tutorials on Pinterest about how to paint laminate shelves because they age poorly and are so very blah to look at.
With a full-time job and two little nose-pickers that require attention (and tissues), there’s no time or desire to paint shelves. So, I figured out how to update shelves in just a few minutes, without opening a can of paint.
How to Update Shelves Without Paint
Whether you want to makeover wall shelves or update a bookcase, there’s an easy way to give your basic shelves a brand-new look in just a few minutes.
You likely have an inexpensive craft supply just sitting around waiting to be used. In fact, you may actually have a whole collection of it just because the stuff looks pretty on your desk (or in my case, pegboard).
All it takes is washi tape, a few minutes and a steady hand to upgrade basic shelves and hide the discolored edges. Washi tape is inexpensive and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns, plus it’s easy to remove when you want to change your decor.
Follow these simple steps to apply washi tape to shelves:
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- Select a roll of washi tape that’s as wide as your shelf is thick.
- Remove your shelves from the brackets
- Take the end of the tape and attach it to the back of the shelf, about 0.5″ from the edge. This will create a clean look on the side without wasting tape on the back of the shelf.
- Slowly attach the tape all the way around the shelf, continuing around the corner with the same piece of tape (no seams!).
- Finish up on the back by wrapping the last corner about 0.5″ on the back of the shelf, just like you did to start.
- Re-position the tape as necessary – it’s easy and clean to remove!
How to Update Bookshelves With Washi Tape
If you apply tape to bookshelves (not floating ones like these) use scissors to cut the tape with a clean, straight edge.
Will the Tape Last?
I tried this method with painted wood shelves in our medicine closet a year ago, and the tape hasn’t budged.
No Muss, No Fuss: Washi Tape FTW
With just a little tape and a few minutes, you can update old shelves to coordinate with your decor and add a little visual interest.
How do you like to update shelves? Have you used paint, contact paper, wallpaper, or something else? I’d love to hear about it, so please share your ideas in the comments section below!