Recycling Covers and DIY Bookshelf Design

I’ve had a subscription to the New Yorker since college and I’ve read it with varying degrees of enthusiasm for years. I keep my subscription because I like telling people I have one (and, you know, the articles are good too). But the one thing I always love about the New Yorker are the covers. Sometimes they capture a moment in world history (like the split black and white St. Louis Arch almost two years ago or the extinguished torch on the Statue of Liberty several months ago). Sometimes they’re just fun (like the New Yorker dandy selfie spread). And I hate just throwing those covers away.

So I’ve been saving those covers for the day I finally had time to act on this idea I’ve had for a while…

I have this giant black bookshelf that came in a box with lots of assembly required. It’s bland and boring, but with lots of potential. So I took my old New Yorker covers (and some other images I’d saved over the years) and wallpapered my bookshelf.




Even with my huge stack of covers I was only able to finish half of the bookshelf. I’m just doing the inside case and shelves, but it still took a lot more to cover than I thought it would. (Luckily it’s an easy project to pause and come back to when I’ve refreshed my stock.) It only took about half a container of modge podge though, which was less than I estimated.

Want to do it on your own? 

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • modge podge
  • sponge brush
  • covers (or just images you want to use. Wall calendar pictures work well, too)

How to do it:

  1. Put towels down in your workspace and have warm water ready for cleaning up any modge podge spills.
  2. Lay out the images on the shelves/frame before you glue. (If you’re layering, make sure you know which images you want to be partially covered and which you don’t. Plan your design accordingly.)
  3. Paint a layer of modge podge on the back of your images and stick to the shelf. You have a few seconds to slide around and reposition before the glue sets.
  4. For my shelves, I used matte, clear dry modge podge and painted a second layer over the top of the images. This creates a harder “sealed” layer to keep your books from scratching up your shelf cover.
  5. Let everything dry for at least 24-hours before you use your shelf.

And here’s the finished product!


What are you working on this week? 


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