DIY built ins with wallpaper

March 17, 2010

Because I’m working on the "big boy" room right now, I thought I would share more detail into how my Dad and I made the built ins in this room back when I was pregnant. (Sniff.) I figured a video would work best, so bear with me as I choke on my shake at the beginning and say “Um.” a lot:

I took some pictures before I finished the wallpaper and molding on the side of the built ins to show you the rough edges I talked about:

I saw the paintable basket weave wallpaper at Lowe’s last week and picked it up, touched it, put it back, touched it again, picked it up, rubbed it against my cheek, touched it again. I ended up putting it back, not knowing what I would use it for. But I couldn’t get it out of my head, and then I knew I had to use it the Bub’s room. It’s totally classic, which is how his room is turning out! 

I’ve worked with wallpaper once before and it continues to surprise me how easy it is to use. I mean, I haven’t wallpapered a room, or even really a wall yet, so I’m probably not a good one to ask. :) But I think it’s easy. 

Then you just soak the paper in water briefly (ten seconds – I did it in the tub.) I went ahead and folded it back on itself for a few minutes after I took it out of the water, but the directions didn’t say to do that. 

Then you just put it on the surface -- it will be really wet! You will need a rag nearby to catch the water and the little bit of paste that smooshes out. There will be air bubbles throughout, and you need to keep moving them out:

I used my hand and then remembered I had this flat squeegee thing that worked great. 

This is not a project you want to walk away from – you need to check on it as it dries to make sure no more bubbles pop up. After the first few minutes and a couple wipe downs with a rag, it should be close to dry to the touch:

If you looked close in the video, you can see a hint of what I’ve done to the window. 

It’s not done yet, but I knew I needed contrast against the window after I got the wallpaper up, so I painted it out in the dark blue I used in the room, then trimmed it out with white molding:


As I mentioned before, I made two panels to hide the imperfections in the built ins:

I adore it!! 

I started working on the shelves just a bit, but they will get a big redo as well:

As much as I love the apple green with the blue, it’s not staying. :) 

I considered leaving it on the backs of the built ins, but it’s just going to be too much with the other colors I’m using. 

Now I’m trying to decide what color to paint the backs:

And if I should put the wallpaper on the insets in the doors and if so, paint them?

Right now, I’m leaning towards blue on both spots, but we’ll see! (I should probably mention the other colors going in the room are red and just a touch of yellow with lots of white molding.) 

I don’t want to much blue, but I’ll wait till I get the area under the chair rail redone before I worry about this part. :)

For now, I love:

I need to figure out where else I can use that wallpaper! 

To see how I created art with paintable wallpaper, check out this post!

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  1. I LOVE the paintable wallpaper. I was drooling over the beadboard wallpaper at Sarah's Beach Cottage, and now here you are. I think I will have to figure out a way to use this!

  2. I differ with you and would not get rid of the apple green in the backs of the cabinet. LOVE IT!

    The Blue Ridge Gal

  3. I love the molding you added.

    You are the molding queen!

  4. ~WOW! Sarah this room is looking so good. Love the molding and the paint colors. Cool! :)

  5. That is awesome! I tried the beadboard wallpaper and it was a horrible, awful, failure. It peeled itself right off the wall as it dried! Yours looks amazing though - and I can't wait to see the finished product. :)

  6. Love the wallpaper you added. The blue looks great. The step you skipped is probably o.k. for the built-ins, but you would want to do that on the walls. There is a primer to put on the walls before papering so the paper will pull off easier if you ever decide to remove it. Otherwise all the sheetrock comes off with the wallpaper. Maybe just paint the back of the built-ins white since you have so much color everywhere else.

  7. I LURVE ;) it! It's looking so amazing!! My favorite line of your post, which made me literally LOL was "I don’t know what the heck they mean by that, so I skipped it. (Oops!)". OMG, hilarious!!! Oops! You crack me up.

  8. Wow did this post fuel my desire for paintable wallpaper in my house!

    I think since the room is already jazzed up with the wallpaper and bold paint color, I would paint the backs of the built-ins white. They would be more "classic" that way. Can't wait to see this finished product! :-)

  9. Wow! What am amazing job you've done so far! I love the shade of blue you have used and that green looks stunning too. I can't wait to see it when it's finished. :)

  10. I love what you've done, but will be so sad to see the green go! I love it with the navy!!!!

  11. Great work!
    It looks awesome!
    We added some decorative wallpaper to our window, over the sink in our kitchen, and we LOVE it!

    Thanks for sharing your fun ideas!

  12. ♣Erin Go Brach!!♣
    THis is a great project! I also love the apple color- but cant wait to see what it looks like when you change it.

    What a cute kitty!

  13. Great use of textured wall paper and I love your colors. Wonderful project!

  14. Hmmmm, it's hard to say what to do with the cabinets, without knowing what you plan on covering up the green with. I would wait till everything else is done to decide. It's looking good though. Love the painted wall paper on the side panels! And thanks for the tutorial!

  15. Great job! I love the new updates on the cabinets. I can't wait to see the finished room. I love his room to begin with. :) I just did a post on my daughter's room: It's not finished yet. We just moved into our house two months ago. It was fun to see you on video. :) You're a natural.

  16. On my "someday" list is built in bookshelves in my sunroom. This just reminds me that when I am ready, I can do it! Thanks again for all the great ideas.

  17. I like the green in the room as well. Either way, I'm excited to see how it turns out! -Jenn

  18. Oh girl, I am SO loving the blue. It's gorgeous!!! The paintable wallpaper is fabulous too. I can't wait to see the finished room!
    God's blessings,
    Sarah :D

  19. Beautiful! I love that paintable wallpaper. I never knew there was such a thing. I really like the dark blue and white contrast that you have planned for this room. You are a genius!

  20. Your dad and you make a good team, these bookcases are great! I wish I knew how to tackle such a project...or maybe not! Janell

  21. It is looking awesome:) I'm about to move my son into a bigger room and am going to do a navy wall (stealing the idea from Pottery Barn kids catalogue). Can't wait to see more of the transformation into little boy room!

  22. Our biggest DS's room is a close color to that Blue and I LOVE LOVE Eddie Buaer Brand (Lowe's) "Cabin Red" It's not bright red.. it's just perfect red for everything.. atleast to me.. not sure if red was something you were considering. I love all of your posts, that basket weave just might be making an appearance in our Laundry room!

  23. Hi Sarah! I haven't been out on the blogs lately and I return asking for a favor...of course! ;) lol....

    Also, I have a favor to ask...
    I'm trying to win a party contest and would love your help! Would you go here:

    and leave a comment at the end of the article? Your comment will give me a vote. Thanks so much! I appreciate it lots. <3

    These colors you used are PERFECT together. Your talent never stops. You are amazing! Truly. This is a gorgeous project. Well done.

  24. As I read the post because I immediately noticed the stack of books you have added to the built-in and smiled when I read on and you mentioned red/blue/yellow! :) VERY classic!!!!

  25. This post couldn't have come at a better time. I have been planning out all week long on building built-ins in my sons room and it helped so much seeing yours all complete! I am going to "marry" the two of his together with a shelf along the top and his trundle bed will sit inbetween the two built ins. I'm so excited, I can't wait to start!! I think I'll be heading to Lowes to day to check out what kind of cabinets they have. I would like to have drawers in the bottom of mine, as opposed to the doors. I want it for clothing so I can rid his room of another piece of furniture! Thanks SO much for this today, I needed it! Blessings

  26. I vote put the wallpaper on the cabinets but leave it white :)

    Just a quick question: I've been searching for-ever for the the perfect apple green....Can you give me the name of what is on the back of your built ins? Thanks so much!

  27. It looks amazing! What a great fix and it adds so much character!!

  28. Oh Sarah - it looks AMAZING!!! LOve, Love, Love it and I want you to keep the green as well, but I know that we can't see the full picture, so I trust you. LOL. :)

  29. I love that wallpaper! The room seems to be coming along pretty nicely. :-)

  30. The apple green is going away :( so sad, it looks very nice with the blue. I can't wait to see the other colors as they come into the room.

  31. What difference it made to add that wallpaper and the molding! Now your built-ins look so finished, so professional. Very cool.

  32. So I feel like I need to watch your video again because I kept getting distracted by your darling baby boy's pictures! LOL. You and your dad did an amazing job on the built-ins! Thank you for sharing the close-ups with us! :)

  33. totally love the redo so far. :) By the way you got me hooked on the word "lurve" I have not heard it before now and say it all the time LOL hubby thinks I am nuts.

  34. I love it! Ah, how wonderful that they will have all that extra storage!! =-D

  35. Love the bookshelf. I never would have thought to use wallpaper in a different way.

    I'm sure u have something amazing planned but I just wnated to suggest an idea to you. You could actually paint it white and use the navy color in rectangular boxes like ppl do with white molding. I dont know the proper name for it {wainscotting?}, drawing a blank, but I hope u know what im saying. Its a very classic look and i think it would look great in this already amazing room. =)

  36. Love the video! I can't wait to see the whole room redo!

  37. LOVE the navy!! I would paper & paint the door panels, and paint the backs white if you are losing the apple green. Can't wait to see the finished little man room!!

  38. Sarah, love the built ins!! So great your dad did those for you. I love the blue you are doing in his room and even though I do love the apple green, I agree with you...they could be a little overpowering. I have myself used paintable wallpaper and in fact using the beadboard in the back of my kitchen cabinets I am working it!! It gives just enough texture and it's great!! I love the basket weave you have in yours...I was thinking what about a natural color in the back like a light sandy brown? It would be a neutral but still give a little pop of something other than white. Will love to see what you do! I am sure it will look great!! Would love to have you stop by and see my changes I have added in my is coming along. :)


  39. I love watching your videos! You are so funny!

    I love the wallpaper! It looks great.

    And now I want a mint chip shake!

  40. not wallpaper on the door-fronts! chalkboard paint! yes! no? you'll make the right decision, i'm sure.

    actually, if i had to give an opinion, i would say don't wallpaper the doors, cause someday you might regret that and the white there will always be great... like when you turn it into his "old man room," it'll still work.

    thanks for the video, i REALLY AM going to make built-ins now in our "Front Room/Library". Really.


  41. The room is really coming together nicely! I love the built-ins. The wallpaper and molding is a great touch. I think it would look nice on the cabinet doors as well. However, think twice about painting the backs of the cabinets blue...I had the backs of our enteratinment center in our family room that color to pull it in from the kitchen when it was navy...all my decorative items got was TOO DARK!

  42. I love built ins! The room is really looking good. I can't wait to see what else you are going to do!

  43. I love all the creativity that you ooze, it is really encouraging to someone like myself who really enjoys DIY. Thank you for sharing part of who you are. God bless.

  44. I know you have big plans for this room, but I have to say I r-e-a-l-l-y like the blue and greens together!

  45. I Love the Wallpaper! I like the Apple Green too. Blue, Red and Yellow sound a LOT like primary colors to me (which, I thought I read you wanted to avoid? maybe I'm wrong?). Either way, I can't wait to see it!

  46. This is certainly a GREAT DIY project!
    Thank you so much for linking it to my par-tay!


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