What Color To Paint The Back Of Bookcase?

Adding a fresh coat of paint to almost anything can revamp it and give it a new look, so why not paint the back of your bookcase? But how do you choose what color to paint it? Well, we have researched the answer for you and have some tips and suggestions about how to choose which color to paint the back of your bookcase.

You can paint the back of your bookcase:

  • Dark colors like black or blue
  • Neutral colors like white or cream
  • Bright colors like yellow or orange
  • The same color as your walls

So, we've given you some color ideas, but keep reading as we go into detail about why you might want to choose each one! We'll also include some image examples and answer some more questions about what color shelves should be, whether a bookcase should match the walls, and how to color-code your bookcase.

A table with laptop in home office interior with bookcase, What Color To Paint The Back Of Bookcase?

Dark Colors

Painting the back of your bookcase dark colors is a good idea if you want your items to stand out more than the paint itself. A dark background can really showcase your belongings. Black, dark blues, dark reds, and greys are all good choices. These colors work very well with white or light-colored bookcases and look great in dining rooms and home offices.


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Interior of a modern bookcase in the living room with a small bookcase with black inner paint on the back of it

Painting the back of your bookcase black is a great way to highlight the items on your shelves! Adding contrasting items, such as bright white items, will make your bookcase a statement piece. If you're wondering how to soften the black up, pair it with some wall paintings or other decor around the room with black in them, so it doesn't stand out quite so much.  

Dark Blue Or Grey

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A huge bookshelf with white closets and dark blue back painting

If black is too dark or too heavy for you, a dark blue or grey can have the same effect without being as harsh on the eyes. Add some green using house plants to compliment the blue shades for an earth tone color palette. 

Dark Red

White cabinets with red interior painting

White trim softens the boldness of the red and creates a stunning effect in this room. Deep reds create a feeling of luxury and warmth.

Neutral Colors

If you want something more subtle, choose a neutral color. Neutral colors are extremely versatile and allow you to add color to your room in other ways by not distracting the eye.  They create a sense of calm and tranquility.  Neutral colors are great for bookcases in living rooms and bedrooms.

White bookcase with sage green back paint

Using a beige, brown, or cream creates a subtle backdrop while still adding to the room's overall feel. It pairs great with other neutral colors, and this designer added hints of blue throughout the room and the bookcase to tie the look together. 

Bright Colors

Bright colors are lively and fun and can really add some energy to a room. They are great for kid's rooms, or if you have a bright colored accent wall in your living room, matching the back of your bookcase to it can make a bold, dramatic statement. 


Yellow back painting with white framing

Yellow is such a cheerful color. After all, it is the color of sunshine! This yellow-backed bookcase with white trim would look perfect in a child's bedroom. It adds a pop of color without being too overwhelming.

Yellow interior painting of a bookshelf

Yellow isn't just for children. Use a darker yellow for a more sophisticated, less playful look. This warm yellow really creates a warm, welcoming feel!


Orange interior paint of a bookshelf

Check out this orange! The orange paint pairs great with the neutral colored decor on its shelves. If you choose to go bright, don't make your room too busy by using multiple colors. Sticking with one bold color throughout the room, as this designer did, can create a dramatic effect without it being too chaotic. 

Orange interior painting of bookshelf

Here's another example of a less dramatic look. Painting the back of your bookcase a bold, bright color and then pairing it with other neutral, light-colored furniture can turn it into a focal point of your room. 


Blue bookshelf filled with books

This bright blue adds a pop of color to a contemporary living room! If you have lots of white furnishings and decor, choosing your favorite color to add to your space can really liven it up while still keeping the clean, modern look the white creates. 

Matching The Back With Your Walls

If in doubt, match the back of the bookcase with your walls. You already know you like the color, and if the rest of your bookcase is a different color, it can create some beautiful contrast, like in the image below. 

Blue inner color of a bookshelf

Should A Bookcase Match The Walls?

A bookcase can but doesn't have to match the other walls in the room. It really just depends on your personal taste and the look you want in your room. You can create a seamless look by matching your bookcase with the walls, or you can match it by choosing a color from the same color palette, or you can choose a drastically different color to create contrast like in some of our examples above!


Ultra white interior of a modern living room with a tall white bookshelf

Matching a bookcase with your walls will give it a "built-in" effect. This can help make your space feel bigger by tricking your eye from seeing extra furniture.

How Do I Color Code My Bookcase?

Color coding your bookcase is a trendy way to bring organization into your room. Begin by sorting your books. The easiest way to do this is by removing everything off the bookshelf, so you have a blank space to work with.

The fewer books you have, the easier it will be, so if there are any you don't mind parting ways with, go ahead and do that before sorting them into like colors. Some books have multiple colors on their spine but don't overthink too hard, and add it to the pile you think matches the closest to. 

Once you've sorted them into like colors, you can then begin organizing them on your shelves. You can choose to keep all of your books vertical like in the image above, or you can separate the blocks of color by adding horizontal stacks or adding ornaments or photo frames in between, like in the image below. 

Huge white bookshelf with lots of books and a TV on the middle

What Color Should Shelves Be?

Like bookcases, you have a few options when choosing the color of your shelves.

Shelves That Match Your Walls

Small dividers painted inn white

If you want your shelves to have a floating effect or want the items on the shelf to stand out more than the shelves themselves, choose shelves that match your walls. 

Click here to see White Sorbus Floating Shelf on Amazon.

Shelves As Part Of Your Decor

Small white shelves

If you want your shelves to be an integrated part of your room design, choose shelves that match the other decor in your room or choose shelves with a wooden look. Wood goes with almost anything, so it is an easy way to add style without worrying too much about whether it will match your other decor. 

Click here to see Modern Rustic All Wood Wall Shelves on Amazon.


Yellow curved lines bookshelf

We've mentioned contrast several times, but it is because it is a great way to decorate a room. It creates a stunning visual effect, so don't be afraid to go bold with shelves that contrast with your wall color and other furniture. Contrast using bright colors or by simply pairing a light and dark color together. 

Click here to see Wilton Wall Shelf on Amazon.

Shelves are a great way to remove clutter from the floor, especially if you have a small room. For more ideas on how to make a small bedroom feel bigger, check out, How to Make a Small Bedroom Look Bigger [9 Great Ideas!] or How to Make the Most of a Small Bedroom [5 Actionable Ideas]

Final Thoughts

We've given you lots of examples and ideas, so hopefully, you have a better idea about what color you should paint the back of your bookcase! In summary, you should think about whether you want to showcase the items on the bookcase or the bookcase itself and go from there! Let your creativity show! Happy Painting!

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