Reader SOS – Wallpaper Shelves + Narrow Bedroom Layout

We are back with another “DIY Playbook, Save our Space!”. Our plan for #DIYPlaybookSOS is to take a reader’s space and (virtually) offer design tips & tricks on how to improve it.

Here are some old design problems we’ve solved during this series…

DIY Playbook save our space

Today, we’re tackling 2 questions readers sent our way.

Should I Wallpaper My Built-Ins? Reader SOS blue built-in shelves

Hi ladies! My house has nice shelves adjacent to the fireplace. However, the back of the shelving is a bright blue and I plan to change it. Do you have thoughts on wallpaper as a back lining for shelves? Too busy or is there a way to do it right?

I loved this question! We both have built-in shelves in our homes and really enjoy styling them. While neither of us has ever painted or wallpapered the backing, I have seen it done really well in other homes.

At first glance, the blue isn’t that bad. It makes the white pop and really highlights the items on the shelves. But when I saw the close-up color, I realized how truly blue it is…Reader SOS Blue built-in bookshelves

Since this reader isn’t in love with the color, I highly recommend changing it. Don’t live with something you don’t love just because it was that way when you moved in!

As for wallpaper…YES! However, I’d say keep a few things in mind when choosing the exact paper. Because these shelves already have a lot of items on them, I’d nudge her to go with a wallpaper that isn’t too busy. A patterned wallpaper, plus lots of decor, plus the bold veining in the marble around the fireplace may equal too much for the eye to handle. Wallpaper built-ins with grasscloth

Photo via Room for Tuesday

Instead, I’d highly recommend wallpapering with grasscloth. Our sweet friend Sarah (from the epic blog Room for Tuesday), recently wallpapered her office built-ins. She made it look easy (here is her step-by-step tutorial), and the end result is fantastic. Wallpaper Built-ins with grasscloth wallpaper

Photo via Room for Tuesday

Grasscloth adds a lot of interest and texture without the busy pattern. This beige/gray color is a good one, and this gray one is peel and stick! I would also recommend swapping the hardware on the built-ins for these gold ones (to match the fireplace surround). With those changes, this could really be a showstopping focal point in this family room!

Long Narrow Bedroom Reader SOS long narrow bedroom

So here is a picture of my master bedroom.  It is a long narrow room!  There used to be a half wall the divided the room.  When we got the hardwood we removed the wall so now it’s an open space.  Just not sure about furniture placement and what to do with “more” space.Long narrow bedroom space

This is definitely a tricky space to layout. And the oversized furniture makes it even more difficult. Because of the placement of the windows, closet, and entrance, this is probably the only good spot for the large bed. So let’s assume that it stays in that spot. Open space in a bedroom

I would suggest swapping the dresser and the large hutch across from the bed. The hutch takes up a lot of visual space and would work better on the wall right when you walk in the door. Then, I would opt to remove the mirror over the dresser and instead mount the TV over the dresser. The placement of the TV right now isn’t really working, so having it across from the bed would function much better.Gallery wall around a TV

She could even do a gallery wall around the TV as we did in this bedroom. A Thoughtful Place master bedroom

Photo via A Thoughtful Place

As for the space on the other side of the room, it needs to be more of a designated space with a purpose (instead of a large open space). I love how our friend Courtney added some seating into the extra nook in her master bedroom. This gives the space a purpose, plus it would work well next to the closets because you’d have a place to sit down and put your shoes on!

While I usually like the look of a rug underneath a bed, I don’t think it really works in this room. So much of the rug would be hidden underneath the bed anyways. Instead, it would make sense to do a large rug on the other side of the room. This would make it look like its own designated zone, too!

With 2 chairs, a rug, side table, a floor lamp, and a large plant next to the hutch…this space could look amazing!

We Want to Hear From You!

We absolutely love tackling your design problems and think these posts can be really helpful for everyone. If you have a question for us and want our design tips, send us an email at [email protected] with the subject line: Reader SOS. Please include as many photos of the space as possible!


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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