After we'd moved in and I was arranging my knick-knacks in that china cabinet, I saw that portions of a thin backing on its interior wall (painted-over wallpaper, perhaps) were cracking and even peeling off. We had not noticed this problem while house hunting; likely the previous owner had placed her knick-knacks in such a way as to cover up the defects.
I did the same, arranging my objects to hide the problem. But when that part of the dining room suffered substantial water damage due to a burst pipe, the eventual tearing out and rebuilding of the wall and ceiling caused even more of the backing to come off.
Here's an example of what I mean:
This is near the corner of the topmost edge of the wall. Portions behind the lower three shelves had even more damage. It seemed a shame to leave the china cabinet as is when the rest of the room had been redone. But I'd already done plenty of painting (including the exterior of the china cabinet itself) so I didn't really feel like doing any more at this time.
Then I saw various "wallpapering" projects online, with the use of fabric or wrapping paper to line the walls behind kitchen shelves, bookshelves and china cabinets. One example I saw for using fabric called for the fabric to be wrapped around foam board cut to size. Since our china cabinet has glass panes on its sides, I didn't want something that thick to project out. So I decided to use poster board instead.
Since poster board is, of course, thinner than foam board, it made sense to use a thin, fairly stiff material like wrapping paper instead of fabric, but I also considered the rolls of vintage wallpaper I had bought dirt cheap(10c/roll)several years ago. I scouted around town a bit for suitable wrapping paper, but nothing grabbed my attention, so I went with the old wallpaper.
I won't lie and say this was a quick project: I had to remove everything from the shelves, measure the inner walls, and cut the poster board to fit. As it wasn't long enough as is, I had to tape more than one sheet together and then cut the whole thing to correct size.
I'd purchased four sheets of large poster board and ended up using most of it. By the time I was down to the wall behind the last shelf, I had to do extra piecing together to get the height and length I needed. I also had to cut away portions of each top corner of my poster board sections; this was to allow for the molding at the inner corners at the top of the wall and underneath each shelf.
I used an extra-strong craft glue to adhere the vintage wallpaper to the poster board sections. I had the option of using spray adhesive, but it's messier to use and I wasn't sure how it would react with my old wallpaper. I could have used double-sided tape as well, but it would have been very difficult to remove the wallpaper if I needed to realign it on the poster board. The craft glue seemed to hold well, but I could still move the wallpaper around a bit if I needed to before pressing it down firmly onto the poster board.
I was afraid the vintage wallpaper would tear, but it was in better shape than I thought. The excess cut away cleanly with an Exacto knife.
For the top and bottom shelves, the sections fit snugly enough that I didn't need any other means to keep them up against the walls. The sections for the wall behind the two middle shelves didn't fit as tightly, so I used Command poster strips to help the corners stay in place.
Okay, enough chatter, now I'll show off some results:
This photo shows off the same top corner of the china cabinet's interior as seen in the first photo. You'd never guess there's something that looks much worse behind the wallpaper!
(In case you're curious about the objects shown, the two vintage-style dessert plates - part of a set of four - were a Christmas gift from my mom one year. The vintage pinecone-motif dishes are part of a set of six, meant to be for tea, I think. The set includes tea pot, sugar and creamer, cups and saucers and dessert plates. It was a gift from two of my sisters, purchased at a consignment shop in Ann Arbor, MI. I haven't been able to find out anything about the set, which is labeled Ucagco Ceramics Japan. I love it though).
I think this project turned out very well, though it was a bit tedious to do all that measuring, cutting, taping and gluing. It didn't break the bank though - total cost was a little under $4.00. And another nice thing: the poster board sections are easily removed if I want to change the look inside the china cabinet. If I ever feel like painting over the inner wall, I can - or use another wallpaper or some wrapping paper.
Plus, the improved appearance of the china cabinet now matches the rest of the newly-renovated dining room!