The easiest way to refinish the back panel of a freestanding bookshelf is to remove it, and refinish it while the panel is lying flat. Sometimes, this back panel is simply clipped in place behind the shelf. Other times, you might find that you need to remove the top of shelving unit in order to slide the panel out. If your shelves are built-in or the back panel is not removable, you can follow this same tutorial by trimming tissue paper to size for your specific needs.
Tissue paper is inexpensive, light weight, and easy to install. It comes as large sheets that are often 36” wide, which is conveniently large enough to cover the width of many shelving units. Choosing vibrant colors and patterns in decorative gift wrapping tissue paper allows for a custom look. Measure and trim your tissue paper down to size, leaving a small overhang to allow for shifting. Be mindful of how sheets need to overlap if patterns are on the paper.
You can make decoupage paste by mixing equal parts white school glue and water. Mix them together with the tip of your paintbrush, and use the brush to apply the mixture to the surface of the back panel. If you’re seeking a less permanent approach, you can also wrap the tissue paper over the back panel, using clear tape to hold it in place.