IKEA Hack: Bookshelf Makeover Without Paint

I think it's safe to say that I have no fear of color. Especially when it comes to decorating kids' rooms, I say, the more color the better! 

BUT I also have my practical side, and I'm passionate about creating kids' spaces that can grow with them {I even wrote a post with tips for designing a boy's room that grows with him}. So when I wanted to add some vibrant color to the bookshelf in my sons' new shared bedroom, I didn't want to do anything too permanent. Rather than painting the doors of their bookshelf, I found a way to get the look I wanted with a quick and easy, temporary update.  

The basic, cubicle-shaped Ikea Kallax bookshelf is one of my all-time favorite pieces for decorating and organizing alike. It's so versatile because it comes in lots of configurations and can be stood up or laid on it's side. And grouped together, two of them work perfectly in a corner.

For my boys shared room, I wanted a combination of open book shelves and closed toy-storage, so I decided to add the Ikea inserts with doors to the lower cubicles of the Kallax. 

Since we had a lot of white going on in their room - all white furniture, mostly-white duvet covers, and white frames for all of the art... I really wanted the bookshelf corner of the room to be a fun and colorful space for creative-play. 

The Ikea Kallax doors currently come in a variety of colors - including white, brown, black, and even turquoise and yellow - but none of these were right for the room. What I really wanted were bright orange doors to tie in the bits of orange from each of the vintage travel posters I picked for the room.

My first thought was to paint the doors - but I foresaw a couple of problems. The doors have a high-gloss finish, and I was worried about getting good paint coverage that wouldn't scratch or chip without lots of sanding, priming and prep work. Second, I wasn't sure we'd always want bright orange doors on the bookshelf. In a few years, when the boys are older, they might want to tone down the colors in the room a bit, so I didn't want to do anything permanent.

After lots of debate, I came up with a super easy and inexpensive solution... adhesive vinyl! 

This is the same type of vinyl I use for lots of DIY projects {like my yard dice}; the same vinyl I use to create labels for many of my organizing projects {like under my kitchen sink and on my charging station}; and even the same vinyl I used to dress up the closet door in my master bathroom! 

The standard size roll of vinyl that you can buy at a craft store is 12 inches tall, but the bookshelf doors are 13" x 13", so I needed a larger roll. After doing some price comparisons online, I found a great deal at USCutter. For only $12.50, I was able to get a 15" x 10 yard roll of bright orange Oracal vinyl {color number 034}.

Determining the exact size to cut the vinyl was a bit tricky since the edges are slightly rounded. I first laid a door on the vinyl backing and marked the edges. Then I used a ruler and reduced the size by an 1/8th of an inch. After testing the first one and determining it was a good size, I replicated it to cut the vinyl for the other five doors.  

To apply the vinyl to the door fronts, I started by peeling off just an inch or two of the backing.

I lined that exposed adhesive up with the edge of one of the doors and stuck it down. From there, it became a two person job. I had Scott hold up the opposite corners of the vinyl and slowly peel away more of the backing bit by bit. Then I used an applicator tool {affiliate link} to smooth down the vinyl little by little.  

Even with this method, we ended up with quite a few small bubbles in the vinyl.

The good news is that the bubbles were much less visible when the doors were upright, rather than laying down. But nonetheless, I wanted to remove as many bubbles as I could before installing the doors on the bookshelf.

The easiest way to eliminate bubbles from vinyl is to use a very thin needle to poke a hole in each bubble...

...and then use a scraper tool {affiliate link} to smooth out the air.

With most of the bubbles removed, the only thing left to do was poke a hole in each vinyl door front to allow our knobs to be installed. By holding the doors up to the light, I was able to see through the vinyl to see where the predrilled hole in the doors was located. I used a screw to poke through the vinyl.

We installed the orange vinyl covered doors on the bookshelf, and then added the white animal head knobs. I just love the bright colored pop of color! 

Ikea Kallax Hack orange doors without paint

For less than $15 and for less than an hour of DIY time, this Ikea bookshelf hack makes a big impact in the room!

Ikea Kallax Bookshelf with Orange Doors

Behind each door we used a blue bin to organize and contain the boys toys.

Ikea bookshelf for toy storage

By placing the two Kallax bookshelves in the corner of the room, we were able to maximize book and toy storage, and create a perfect place for reading and playing. Be sure to check out the full shared boys' room makeover - it's packed with lots of other creative storage solutions to make the most of the small space!

Add bright colored doors to a

In the future, if the boys no longer want this bright orange in the room, I can simply pull the removable vinyl off of the bookshelf doors. I love this temporary decorating solution, which will make it easy for this bedroom storage to grow with the boys for many years to come!

Ikea bookshelf makeover for organizing kids toys


  1. It’s an amazing transformation. Bookshelf looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for sharing! How did you fill in the corner opening (by the window)?

    1. We overlapped the two bookshelves, so the shelf on the left side only has three sections, rather than four, because the 4th is hidden in the corner.