How to transform your furniture with leftovers from other projects.

Do you know what one of my favorite things on the planet is?

Well–besides red lipstick, black velvet pants and trying to take pictures of my hair in the self-checkout lane.

One of my favorite things is to think of projects from things that other people were going to get rid of.


Leave behind on the curb.

Let sit in the garage until bell bottoms were a thing again.

So when one of the most amazing tile companies on the planet, Jeffrey Court, asked me to create a project people could create from their leftover tile?

I was all over it.

So I thought and planned and dreamed and came up with something for the new house.

Here’s my version of what to do with leftover tile from a project.

Adding tile to the back of an old bookcase easily changes the look and feel of your furniture.

A close up look at the tiled bookcase.

I tiled the back of this bookcase.

This project only took about 10 squares of tile.

You can see this honeycomb tile with all of the other incredible tile selections that Jeffrey Court has to offer here.

If you don’t have leftover tile, you can always pick up a few squares at your local home improvement store, too.

Want to make your own?

Here’s how we DIY’d our tile bookcase.

Transform an old bookcase with leftover tile from prior projects.

Before bookcase

Here’s our before bookcase.

When choosing a bookcase for this project, you will want to find one with removable shelves.

It’s not a dealbreaker if you don’t.  One of our shelves wasn’t removable and the project turned out fine.  It just would have been so much easier if both shelves would have been removable and we just tiled the back of the bookcase and inserted the shelves after.  It would have saved so much time with cutting the tile.

This is a bookcase I got at an auction for $17.

This tile was leftover and I knew it would be perfect for the project.

Choose your tile

This is the tile I used for the project.

This tile comes in a sheet, so it made the entire tiling project so much easier.

Smaller tile like this works better than larger tile for this project because it creates more visual interest.

The smaller tile for this project creates more visual interest.

Measure tile and cut

For this project, we just placed the tile in the back of the bookcase and measured where the cuts were.

Then I took the tiles with the markings where the cuts should be to my local home improvement store and had them cut the tile.

I’ve found most home improvement stores are willing to help if you only have a few cuts.

Having them cut the tile made the project so much easier.

After you have the tiles cut, bring them home and lay them in the bookcase as shown to make sure they fit.

Use this adhesive to affix the tile to your bookcase.


The next step is the adhesive.

You can find tile adhesive in the tile section of the home improvement store.

It usually comes in a tub like this.

Spread the adhesive with a plastic trowel on the back of the bookcase.

We spread the adhesive with a plastic trowel on the back of the bookcase.

You want enough adhesive to ensure your tile adheres properly.

Follow the manufacturer’s directions on your project.

Press the tile into place on the back of the bookcase.

Press tile in place

After you have applied the adhesive, press tile in place.

This tile came in sheets, so the tiles were evenly spaced for the project.

Keep placing tiles on the adhesive until all tiles are in place.

We let our adhesive sit overnight.

Apply grout to the tile to affix to the bookcase.

Apply grout

The next step is to apply grout.

You can buy grout pre-mixed or it comes in powder form that you mix yourself.

Because the project was a small one, I got pre-mixed grout to save time.

Using a plastic trowel, apply grout to the tiles.  Make sure to press the grout down between the tiles with the trowel.  After all your tiles have grout between them, go back and remove as much grout as possible from the top of the tiles before it dries.  This will make your next step so much easier.

Follow manufacturer’s directions on how long the grout needs to set up before you sponge the top.

Our grout sat for about 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the top layer of grout with a sponge.

Remove top layer of grout with a sponge

Lastly, you will want to use a dampened sponge to wipe off the top of the tiles.

Keep wiping until the grout is removed from the top of the tile.

It can be a little challenging.

My best tip.

Wipe all the grout until you think you are done.

And then?

Wipe it again to remove any haze.

The added tile has the perfect pop for this piece.

SO happy with the final result of this tiled bookcase look.

The tile looks fantastic with the rest of the bookcase details.


Ta da!  Don't you just love how this grey tile looks with this thrifty bookcase?

I’m so happy with how it turned out.

Who knew that tile sitting around in a garage or basement or back porch could look so good?

My bookcase is happy.

I’m happy.

Life is good.

But life with red lipstick, black velvet pants and leftover tile is AMAZING.

disclosure:  A giant shout out to Jeffrey Court for partnering with me on this post.

All opinions are my own.

Please see my disclosure page for more information.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Teresa at Teresa at

    You are an inspiration for all! My bookcase is jealous. We just removed all the tile - 12 x 12 tiles from our kitchen floor. I know - I know - our house is only 2 years old... long story! But I now have a ton of tiles that are in perfect condition - of course, we saved them all. Now, you have me thinking of what I can tile!!

  2. Image for Jeanette Davis Jeanette Davis

    The bookcase is adorable. I just have one question: did the tile make it feel like it weighs a ton? And like you might need to jack up the floor to support it? :-)

  3. Image for Ann Ann

    Great idea! I never think of embellishing the backs of bookcases. Hmmm, must start now. I had some off-white, small, square tiles and purchased a Happy Thanksgiving stamp from Hobby Lobby. I stamped each tile with brown ink, sealed them, put non-scratch feet on and gave them to family members for coasters. I hang my head telling you this one. . . .I took the same stamp and stamped the "nice" Chinet white napkins and used them for a gathering. Yes, I know I am cheap. . .don't remind me.

  4. Image for Gayle Gayle

    Looks great! Leave it to me to have a question about something besides the main topic! However I love that leather tote, briefcase? What is it and where did you get it??? P.S. you bring so much laughter to my life!! God bless you!

  5. Image for Lorri Rauscher Lorri Rauscher

    Cool idea Karianne😆The bookshelf looks all prettyified ( is that a word? LOL..) Have to try this. Thank you for the idea.😊

  6. Image for Sharon Sharon

    O.K. I sense you are a little quirky, at times. What I need to know....when you are at an auction and you get the winning bid and they place that item in your you do a little dance and say woo hoo!!! That is me and I do receive a lot of looks. But...I do not really care because I won that treasure. Blessings....I so enjoy your posts.

  7. Image for Sue Sue

    Hi Karianne, this look would be great in a kitchen with dishes or the bathroom with towels and toiletries. You never cease to impress me.

  8. Image for Leslie Watkins Leslie Watkins

    I absolutely love this idea! Beautiful! And it made my heart happy to see that cute pitcher on the top. Happy decorating, friend! You do it all so very well! I'm sure that the red lipstick and black velvet pants help, of course...😊

  9. Image for Kathleen Kathleen

    Loving that you tiled the book shelf! But I really want that "brush" pumpkin! It looks like a vintage scrub-brush head ~ and I mean very vintage ~ from so many years ago. I'm sure it's not, but if possible I would love to know your source!

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