renter-friendly book wall art

Ever since I created Booker, my book wall art installation, back in 2019, one question has easily stood out – “how can I make this if I’m in a rental and/or don’t want to but a ton of holes in my wall?” Well, friends, it took a couple of years, but I am FINALLY delivering the answer to that question with this renter-friendly book wall art DIY!

book wall art installation
Booker (and NAPA!) in all his glory last Christmas!

Now that we are in a rental up in Oregon, Booker is safely in a box in our closet, waiting for our new home to re-emerge. BUT, I’ve gotten used to having book art on my wall and so our rental just didn’t quite feel like home.

So what better time than to create a new, renter-friendly (and portable!) book wall for this space?

Let’s get to it!

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What You Need to Create Your Renter-Friendly Book Wall Art

How to Create Your Renter-Friendly Book Wall Art

PART 1 – Building the Frame

Step 1. Choose the size of your art first based on the size of your space. My space could handle about a 5.5’x4′ piece, but I didn’t want to splurge on a 4’x8′ piece of plywood for just a little extra size, so instead, I went with 3.5’x4′, and purchased a 4’x4′ piece of plywood at Home Depot for about $35. That said, you can totally make a 4’x8′ piece of art here, which is huge!

Because I wanted the piece to be 3.5’x4′, I used my jigsaw to cut off 6″ of board from one side of my plywood.

Step 2. Use your sander and 180 grit sandpaper to sand down and rough spots on the edges and face of your plywood. Dust off with a broom or tack cloth.

Step 3. Using your stain of choice, stain one side of your plywood and allow to dry.

Step 4. While drying, measure and cut your frame. I used a bundle pack of window/door molding from Home Depot – it was about $28 for five 7-foot pieces of molding – plenty for what I needed! Be sure to cut the ends of your frame at 45 degree angles with your miter saw to ensure they meet up nicely like a photo frame.

making the frame for renter-friendly book wall art

Step 5. Once cut, spray paint your frame with your chosen color of spray paint. Allow to dry.

Step 6. Once your plywood is dry, flip it over and attach your D rings with your power drill and screws. I attached mine at the edges of the plywood about 1/4 down from the top. Now string your photo wire through the D rings and wrap about 6-8″ extra around each side to secure.

Step 7. Flip your plywood back over and use your nail gun and 5/8″ nails to attach your frame to the plywood. Be sure to nail in the thickest part of your molding to ensure the nails do not come out the other side!

I also added some rub n buff to my frame to add a bit of dimension and a more antique look to the frame. Totally optional!

Step 8. Use a photo hanging kit or a screw inserted into a drywall anchor (or nail into a stud) to hang your frame on the wall! Admire your work – you’re halfway there!

renter-friendly book wall art frame and mounting surface


Part 2 – Creating the Art

Step 1. Peel the front and back covers off of your paperback books

Step 2. Brew some coffee and allow to cool. Then pour into your spray bottle.

Step 3. Take your books outside (or into a protected space) and open them up about halfway. Use your spray bottle to give your books a good spray of coffee to age them. Allow to dry

PRO TIP: Don’t drench your books or they will take a long time to dry and risk developing mold!

Step 4. Once your books are dry, bring them inside and lay them out how you like on the floor. Measure the width and height of your books to ensure they will fit inside your frame.

Step 5. Now – pull up your art on your mini projector and point it at your frame. Adjust the projector settings so the image is clear and the right size.

PRO TIP: Use the app Vector Q to create your art. I found a photo of a buck and used the app to transform it into a black and white drawing. I’m not sure if the app is compatible with android, but if not, Canva has some similar options your can toy around with!

Step 6. You can now start nailing up your books (one nail on either side so they stay open) with your nail gun and 3/8″ brad nails. Here is where you need to be just a bit careful! Make sure you are nailing a good chunk of pages so that the nail still reaches the plywood, but still does not go through the full thickness of the plywood. Some books I like to let flutter open a bit with several pages, and for others I nail each side right below the page that you can see. I generally like to do the latter with the books that have a large portion of my image on them so that the image looks more seamless. If the book is opening more than I like, I’ll use glue dots to secure the pages so they stay open even more.

You can see here I have a good chunk of book pages under my nail gun – this helps ensure you don’t pierce the back of your plywood or go through the wall!

Step 7. The purpose of having your image projected while you nail up your books is so you can ensure your image is not too disjointed. You’ll only be painting your image on the BOOKS themselves, and not the spaces in between. In other words, for areas of your image that really matter, like a face, you’ll want your books to be closer together so the image makes sense. On the outskirts of the frame where there is little to no image/paint, you can leave larger gaps between the books if you wish.

I personally do not like my books to all be the same distance apart or fully aligned, so you can see I play a bit with the spacing on both Booker and here!

Step 7.5. Unfortunately, even with laying out the books ahead of time and measuring to be sure you have enough space in the frame, you may have to remove and reposition books.

Not to worry! Removing the books is not difficult – just be very careful as you pull the book out from the brad nail. Yes, there will be a hole in the pages, but you won’t see those pages, so it really doesn’t matter. Next, remove the remaining brad nails from the frame with pliers if needed. Then adjust your book, and reattach.

Step 8. Once all of your books are attached to your liking, it’s time to paint! Using black acrylic paint and a small paintbrush, follow the lines of the projected image and paint on the books accordingly.

You really do have to TRUST the process here. It’s not going to feel like a full coherent image until it is all done. SO trust the process!

I also like to paint the edges of my books if the projected image appears there so that the image continues to appear coherent from any angle!

PRO TIP: If possible, try to paint all in one day! Readjusting the projector to be exactly where it was on the first day I painted was a pain in the BUTT! So start early and just knock it out if you can!


And that’s it! You’re done!

Step back and admire your work!


One of the greatest joys of creating and sharing Booker was seeing all of the many creations he inspired in your home!

I love that this time, the project can be completed by ANYONE! And once you create it, it’s yours forever because it is FAR more portable than Booker was having nailed him in the wall (even though I DID end up taking him down and with us!)

I hope you enjoyed this renter-friendly book wall art DIY! If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

Until next time…

OH! I almost forgot! Booker was named by an IG follower, as was this guy…. introducing… CHAP! Short for “Chapter”! I love the book theme and this was such a fun suggestion! And I can’t wait to see Chap & Booker up together in our new home!

renter-friendly book wall art pinnable

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