How to make the back of an end table look nice

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I have this small end table that really needs to be against a wall (the back is just a piece of unfinished wood), but I would like for the back to look good so it doesn't have to be against a wall. Any ideas as to what I could put on the back to make it look nicer? The stain on the back is much darker than the front and I don't want to paint the piece. For reference, the back board is approx. 11"x 11" . Thanks for any ideas!

q how to make the back of an end table look nice
  16 answers
  • You could use a piece of textured paintable wallpaper and add it to the back. Or you could decoupage and pretty patterned paper there or you could add a vintage looking piece of fabric or contact paper. We used bead board to solve a similar problem. https://www.exquisitelyunremarkable.com/2018/06/trash-to-treasure-table-makeover.html

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Feb 20, 2021

    you could paint or stain it or even add wallpaper or paper that looks like wood slats on the back

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Feb 20, 2021

    You could also go the path of the hardest work...sand and refinish. I really like the idea of decoupaging the back.

  • Kathy Kathy on Feb 20, 2021

    contact paper

  • William William on Feb 20, 2021

    It looks like someone used a piece of cheap underlayment for the back and tried to match the stain. Can you remove it? What does the front look like? You can decoupage some decorative paper on it. You can get some paint the closely matches the rest of it and paint.

  • I would stencil a design or pattern on it

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Feb 20, 2021

    Hello. If you don’t want to paint it -I would think about making a slipcover of a pretty fabric to place over it.

  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on Feb 21, 2021

    What about Modge podge? You could add some paper that’s meaningful to you - like an antique newspaper? Could be a conversation piece too. :)

  • Dee Dee on Feb 21, 2021

    I would sand it down, in fact I would lightly sand the entire table, then restain to an even color. Minwax comes in many colors, you could change the look of a room. Good Luck

  • Betsy Betsy on Feb 21, 2021

    Hi Lynn: Can you remove that backing and replace it with another piece of thin wood? They have smaller pieces at the home improvement centres. Then stain it to match. Or, you can get some velvet and glue it onto the existing back, or even Contact paper.

  • Zard Pocleeb Zard Pocleeb on Feb 22, 2021

    William’s right...looks like cheap piece that might not even be wood. Looks like it might not be original to the piece either. It doesn’t even look like it fits properly.


    Gently remove the piece on the back and cut a new one. Stain and finish. Remember that stain doesn’t have to be used right out of the can. It can be mixed with another stain to get the color you want. Just make sure to use like-stains (oil with oil, waterborne with waterborne). Test your finish on a small piece of the scrap wood to get the color you want. Install new piece.


    One last consideration. When I was in a high school wood shop class my teacher taught me a very valuable lesson. If you can’t make something match accentuate the difference so it doesn’t look like you’re trying to match it. I have a fully equipped wood shop that I have made hundreds of pieces in. I do a lot of work that I use this concept on (see picture for an example). This is a breadbox I finished a couple months ago. The dark brown dots are pieces of walnut dowel rod that I used to disguise a small bad spot in the wood. I also used contrasting woods (quarter sawn white oak and purpleheart).

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Feb 22, 2021

    I would add removable wallpaper to the area.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Feb 22, 2021

    maybe cover with contact paper

  • Annie Annie on Feb 23, 2021

    Give it a sand and stain it to match the rest of the table. or depending on the decor of your home, find a small wall hanging to fit. Or perhaps a magazine holder..

  • Simple Nature Decor Simple Nature Decor on Feb 23, 2021

    I would consider painting the table to blend in