How to Make Backdrops for Open Kitchen Shelves

Creating open shelving in a kitchen is a great way to display your favorite dinnerware, collections, cookbooks and more on the shelves. Don’t stop by styling shelves with objects only. You can create more impact when you add colorful backdrops to the shelves.

Making bookcase or shelf backdrops to include when styling a shelf is an easy and very budget friendly decorating idea you can do in about 30 minutes with a few simple supplies.

Kitchen decorating idea. How to swap out the backdrop color on open kitchen shelves to change the look or for the season on special occasion.

After I repainted my kitchen cabinets and started to put the room back together again, I realized I needed to come up with some open shelving ideas so I could find a place for this…White-bowl-bought-in-a-thrift-shop

A large ceramic mixing bowl with a handle and spout. I could not pass it up when I saw it at the thrift store. It was only $3.90. 

I did have a problem with it though – I had no place to put it. I didn’t want to hide it behind a cabinet door, I wanted to display it.

I thought about removing a few cabinet doors to create open kitchen shelving that is popular now, but I didn’t have the cabinet space to spare.

kitchen baskets on open shelves in kitchen

Then I laughed at myself when I realized that I already had open shelves in my kitchen – the shelves where I have had baskets for the past 12 years.  I decided to see if the bowl would fit if I removed the baskets.

open shelving ideas for kitchens

It did fit – just barely, I liked it.


I am not afraid to act on my instincts and decided to make a change.

Leaving the inside of the shelves white would just make the white bowl disappear.


I went into my “retail display” mode to create colorful backdrops out of foam core boards for the shelves so the white bowl and other white items would pop when placed in front of the backdrop.

Decorating-with-color from the dollar store

Making foam core or corrugated cardboard backdrops is super easy – I made two sets of backdrops so that I could easily change the color on a whim or for the season.

One set in blue, the other orange.


Change is one of the reasons I like to decorate with white or neutral colors for walls. It makes it easy to change the colors of my decorative accessories.

How to Make Foam Core Open Shelf Backdrops

supplies needed:

  • Foam Core Boards – I buy them at The Dollar Tree.  You can also get thin plywood cut at the home improvement store.
  • Bead board wall paper, gift wrap, wallpaper, fabric, or paint. I used Orange paint and bead board wallpaper.  The blue color is gift wrap.
  • Spray glue
  • Mailing or duct tape
  • Ruler and Craft knife
  • Pencil

1. Measure the back of each shelf:  width and height.  Cut foam core or plywood to these measurements making the board slightly smaller so it will fit in the shelf after you wrap the paper or fabric around it.


2.  If foam core boards are slightly warped, pile a few books on them overnight to flatten. Once flat, attach the paper with spray glue.


3.  If using bead board wallpaper. Paint it and let it dry before attaching to the cut foam core. If you paint it on the foam board the moisture in the paint will loosen the spray glue.

4.  Wrap the excess paper to back of the foam board and use mailing or duct tape to secure.

5. Place in shelf. If it is a tight fit and you want to remove it, wedge a spatula behind one edge so you can grab it to remove.


The colorful orange backdrop makes the white mixing bowl pop.


In the fall it can be orange…


Presto-Change-o!  It is blue for the summer.


I still love the baskets that used to be on the shelves and moved them to a hanging cubbie my mini mudroom.


I covered the cabinet door with black and white fabric to make it into a memo board.

You can find out how to make one yourself in this post:

One Yard Decor: Inset Cabinet Door Memo Board

Is there open shelving or a bookcase in your home that would look nice with an easy and budget friendly color swap?

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  1. Oh my Gosh! When I saw this picture while searching for open shelves I said…. What? She’s been in my dish pantry….lol. I have just about everything you have displayed, Needless to say… .YOU have great taste. I am dish obsessed and love white things. This looks so pretty. Good Job.

  2. Julie Jamison says:

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this idea! Perfect for changing your decor throughout the seasons or just for when we are indecisive! Thanks for the post Diane!

  3. How do you suggest getting the same look when the shelves are glass? I think foam core board would leave a visible gap and there is not enough room to place the board behind the glass shelf. I guess paint and wallpaper are options but they are also more permanent.

  4. Where did you buy your bowls and plates along with the large mixing bowl? What brand are they and collection? Beautiful.

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been pondering what to do with my open shelves in my kitchen and didn’t want to make a permanent change. You brilliantly, simply and beautifully solved my problem.

    What is your new plan for everything that was in your baskets? The new finish on the baskets was great. I bought baskets to put in my master closet but didn’t love the finish. You solved that dilemma as well. Thanks again for your inspiration!

  6. Diane,

    Thanks for the wonderful, practical ideas! I really love your blog. It is so inspiring to see clever solutions posted so clearly and in such a helpful way. Thanks again for all you do and share!

  7. Well Diane you did it again. Another beautiful idea. Love it all, the beadboard wallpaper, your awesome bowl, your shiny newly painted kitchen. It just draws you right in.

  8. What a great idea and I can’t believe how much that orange invites you in…and makes you smile. Thank you for sharing this great idea!

  9. Jann from Newton Custom Interiors says:

    What a fabulous idea to use the foam core and bead board wallpaper! Great job.

  10. This is such a great idea! I have built in open shelves and have been thinking of how to add some color or print (the walls are all white) and this is such an easy way to do it. Thanks for sharing this, I want to go home and do it right now! hahaa..

  11. Great work – I love the orange and chevron!

  12. Diana, you seem to make decorating decisions very easily – is this the case? Do you advise people to go straight ahead, or think about projects for a while? Or is it different for each new challenge?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy – As I have gotten older and have had more experience in knowing what will work and what won’t, I usually dive right in. There have been a few cases where I waited – painting my kitchen cabinets 12 years ago and removing the carpet from the foyer staircase. These were big projects that I had to think about, plan, and look at how they would impact my family before I did them.

      Knowing what I like also helps with making decorating decisions. I don’t questions myself anymore- if I like it – then I go for it. I know my style and can easily edit what will and won’t work for me. I am not sure if this is innate, or just comes from years of experience working in the decorating field. If you don’t try it, you will never know if it will work or not.

      I like to tell others that may be afraid to start – to begin on a small project or experiment on scrap pieces of wood to build up skills and confidence. Once they have had a few successes, they will be able to make the right decisions without doubting themselves.

      My brain also works on the visual side. I don’t need a drawn-out plan. I joke that I can’t add 2 + 2 to save my life, but it is true. I can see a completed project down to the last detail in my mind before starting it. Seeing it in my mind as I work- I know how it will come out. On the other hand, if you put a spreadsheet of numbers or words in front of me my brain draws a blank.

      1. You’re so lucky, Diane – I quite enjoy algebra, but have a hard time visualizing how something will look before it’s done. I hope it’s a matter of practice for me, though: this is my first time renovating and decorating a whole house…maybe it’ll get easier as I go along. You are an inspiration to me :)

  13. That is a great idea! I have open shelving in my family room and I think I will decorate them with Christmas paper come December!

  14. Love love love the versatility! And the brilliant color choices!


  15. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    I love your sparkly, bright, clean kitchen… and I remembered the foam board idea from you before. I don’t have any open shelving, but I just might have to buy a yard of orange fabric to make a new valance for my tiny, cubbyhole of a galley kitchen. And some blue too!

  16. Great idea…can’t wait to see the whole kitchen! ;)

  17. CityGirlCountryBloke says:

    I love the dollar store!! And what a great idea to make pop out shelf backdrops! I have such a hard time sticking to one color so I love that you can switch it out. I just started reading your blog and I really enjoy it!

  18. That is such a great idea, I love the pop of color!

  19. Loving the new colorful look Diane and trying not to covet your Ina cookbook collection!

  20. Linda Southworth says:

    The color pops! Now what else I can do with the bead board wallpaper? I used it as my backsplash and painted an off-white. It works well and was an inexpensive update. I remember you used this on the back of that beautiful blue cabinet which worked quite well. Thanks Diane, you always get me thinking.

  21. I LOVE this idea! Seriously this could not be an easier thing to do and yet adds so much color!

  22. I love this idea. Your kitchen looks so inviting

  23. This is such a great idea! Your kitchen is gorgeous <3

  24. You are so clever! They both look beautiful :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Stacy – It was hard deciding which color I liked better, but with Fall right around the corner – the orange won.

  25. Katherines Corner says:

    Diane your home is so lovely. I always enjoy my visits to your blog. The pop of color on the open shelves is wonderful and vibrant! I think I could use a pop of color in my laundry room. xo

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Katherine – Lots of vibrant color in a laundry room would surely energize it. May even make doing the laundry fun ! :)

  26. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    I love how your open shelving looks, Diane! The cookbook covers make me think of “your colors” and they bring a nice bit of color to this area along with the backers you did.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kathy – I don’t even like to cook, but I love Ina Garten and her cookbooks. As you noticed they are my colors – I think that is why I buy them – for the colors and to have a bit of her style around me. They used to be in a cabinet, but I like seeing them displayed now. Why have all those yummy colors hidden away? Who knows I may even use them to cook more now. :)

  27. Nana Diana says:

    What a great, great idea. Love the orange pop of color for Fall…and I love the light blue, too. I really need to get at my laundry room and do a switcheroo there! xo Diana