Little Free Library volunteer steward Jennifer Wade came up with a creative way to add some color and personality to her little library: wallpapering the inside! As a longtime reader and bibliophile, Jennifer had often admired the Little Free Library book boxes in her town. When she bought a home in a neighborhood frequented by kids and adults on their way to school or the metro station, she decided it was time to start her own.
We reached out to Jennifer to learn how she added wallpaper to her little library and she kindly shared the steps below.
How to Wallpaper the Inside of your Little Free Library
First, you’ll need a Little Free Library book box. Jennifer purchased the Two Story Modern library model from Little Free Library’s online store, but if you prefer to build your own, we also have dozens of Little Free Library plans available on our website.
Once you have a library, start by priming and painting the raw wood, including the interior shelving. Paint any part of the inside of the library that won’t be covered by wallpaper. (Wondering what kind of paint to use? Standard exterior house paint is a good choice. Try not to skip the priming step, either. Primer helps paint adhere to wood better.)
Now that your library is painted, it’s time to get the wallpaper ready! Jennifer ordered sample sheets of wallpaper from Spoonflower. She measured each surface in her library that she wanted to cover, wrote down the dimensions, then cut the sheets of wallpaper to size. She labeled each piece with labels like “top shelf wall” or “bottom right wall” as she went.
Jennifer says, “I naively ordered the removable wallpaper that you can just dampen and hang, but the surface is too rough for that to work, and of course it would never stay put outside. So if you’re ordering, get the paste kind!”
To adhere the wallpaper to the inside of your library, start by squeezing a bunch of glue on a paper plate. Grab a paint brush and run it through the glue. Then, one piece at a time, coat the back of the wallpaper with glue and press it into place inside your library, smoothing it with your hands to ensure it lays flat. Continue this process until you’ve completely covered the interior of your library.
“I chose to have the whole back look like a single piece, the walls of each compartment match, and the floors be random,” says Jennifer. “I did have a little leftover wallpaper, but friends are framing pieces of it for their kids’ rooms!”
Since Jennifer started her Little Free Library #91486 (find it on our world map) it’s received a lot of visitors! She’s noticed that YA books and easy-readers for elementary schoolers seem to get taken quickly.
“It’s so fun when we’re working in the yard and someone stopping by thanks us for putting it up,” Jennifer says, “It’s been surprising how many little kids dive right in on their own. I love that they’re not afraid to use it.”
Ready to join the world’s largest book-sharing movement? Learn how to start a Little Free Library book box.