Where to find decorative shelf edging and shelf paper

Carrie writes:
I was wondering if you have ever done any research on Shelf Edging and if so where could I get some.  I don’t think that I ever mentioned that the previous owner had placed shelf edging in the linen closet and also in certain cabinets in the kitchen.  Since I have lived in my house for almost a year now the shelf edging is starting to tear and I would like to have some more on hand when I am ready to put more up.  
vintage-shelf-edgingAny information that you have would be greatly appreciated.  Always remember that you are doing a wonderful job in making Retro Renovation what is has become.  I appreciate more and more the smalls details of my house that everyone else would take for granted.  I sent you some pictures of the shelf edging in my cabinets I hope they help.

Thanks for the question and for your lovely words of support, Carrie. This was a fun one to research. From what I can tell looking online, there were four waves of shelf edging design:

  1. In the “early days” I am betting the major name making this was Meyercord. They are also known for their furniture and cabinet decals. The paper shelf edging was, I am quite sure, a way for women to dress up their farmhouse and apartment kitchen shelves without having to go to the expense of renovating.
  2. In the postwar era, the big name seems to have been Royledge also marketed as Roylies and as Roylcraft. I also see some Betty Brite out there. You should also note that the edging came either as “just edging” or as edging attached to white shelf paper – but all still in one piece.
  3. In the 60s, I am seeing plastic, pleated / ruffled , self-adhesive shelf edging from Contact. I like this idea a lot. As you demonstrate with your experience – that paper is going to tear in any high-use area. Also, the adhesive is pretty nifty. Otherwise, I am thinking that housewives earlier put the edging down with thumbtacks.
  4. Today’s limited options “new”.

Where to get shelf edging and shelf paper?

Betty Brite "Edge 'n Lining" shelf paper from RetroRubbish. 12" deep, 15' wide, $10. Click on the image to go to the listing.

Betty Brite “Edge ‘n Lining” shelf paper from RetroRubbish. 12″ deep, 15’ wide, $10.

  • Etsy seems to be a great source. The going price for a 15′ strip seems be $5 and up. Search terms: shelf edging, shelf paper, Royledge, Roylies, Meyercord, Betty Brite, Vintage Contact Paper
  • You can also watch ebay…
  • New #1 — I found a company in Scotland — Diana Forrester— selling gorgeous fabric shelf edging embroidered in France.

    cotton and linen embroidered shelf edging from diana forrester

    cotton and linen embroidered shelf edging from diana forrester

  • New #2 — And a company that sells vinyl, pre-pasted, lace style edging. You can buy it here, and I also read it may be available at places like Wal-Mart.
  • Finally, if you are handy, you could also make paper edging yourself out of wallpaper (new or vintage.) Create a decorative edge with scrapbooking scissors that you can find at Target; this is going to take a very steady hand, though. And, unlike the vintage edging – which is white where it sits on the shelf itself – your wallpaper-edging is going to be visible on the shelf, too. This may not be desirable. Trying to seam the decorative paper to a white piece of shelf paper may not work either as such a seam would be vulnerable to tearing.

This was a fun question to reseach, Carrie. Good luck!


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  1. says

    I think if you made your own out of wallpaper, you could add white adhesive shelf lining (or whatever you wanted) over top of the edging if you didn’t want that bit of the edging to show on the shelf (if I’m picturing what you wrote correctly).

    • pam kueber says

      Yes, Paula, I think you are right about adding the adhesive shelf liner. There still would be a seam at the edge, though, and I wonder how long it would last without pulling up. It’s definitely worth considering — especially given the fact that it is relatively easy to find one roll of vintage wallpaper in your travels…

    • pam kueber says

      Lady Brett, I think you are totally correct… A good use for vintage lace edging, too? The great thing today is that there seems to be an adhesive for literally any kind of project….

  2. patty says

    Besides shelf edging, the thing I loved at my grandmother’s house were those decals for the kitchen cupboard doors. They used to slide off the backing with water. I haven’t seen them in ages – probably another ebay search!

  3. gavin hastings says

    Shelf paper was never intended to be a permenent addition to decor. It is meant to last only 1-2 years at the most…which is why most homemakers “gave up”.

    I like your idea of of an edge done with scrap-booking scissors. And 2 or three thumbtacks would achieve a “true” retro look

  4. gavin hastings says

    Oh…wait…I’m gonna change that “Gavin as Richard Simmons” picture. And while I’m at it- can I change my moniker to “Noted Authority”?

  5. Carla says

    I made my own shelf edging for the two cabinets over the sink that I removed the doors from. I recieved an Etsy order in some wicked red/white wrapping paper with birds on it and just cut small scallops out (by no means even or perfect.) For shelf paper behind it, and in order to hold it onto the shelf without needing staples or something, I just taped some wax paper on. Wax paper has always been the easy-peasy shelf liner. There IS a lip, but its VERY small and the dishes on those shelves aren’t ALWAYS being removed…and really, its not THAT hard to just be careful!
    I also have some vintage gingham shelf paper on the bottom shelf of my dishes cupboard that I found at Value Village. I don’t see the point in lining EVERYTHING when the stuff in the food cupboard for example, would be trashed right away. I only put it where guests are most likely to see it. Other places, can just use wax paper!

  6. Genjenn says

    I just got a few packs vintage NIB Meyercord starburst water slide decals (ebay rocks). The water slide refers to how you prepare the decal for use. Instructions:
    Carefully cut out the decal from the sheet and dip the decal in a cup of warm water for 60 seconds. Placing the decal between your fingers, “feel” if the decal slides from the paper.
    If it does, you are ready to slide the decal off the backing paper into position on the object.

    Hope that helps.

  7. says

    If I may suggest–The old decals tend to fall apart when dipped. Two things to try: Spray them with Krylon before you use them. Make sure it dries thoroughly. Secondly, don’t dip it in water like the instructions say; just lay them on a wet washcloth, backing side down, and let the water wick up through the backing till the decal loosens. Try to keep water from direct contact with the decal.

  8. says

    I have a few rolls of vintage contact paper and shelf liner that I really love (probably from thrift stores and antique stores), but I have to say, I am not at all familiar with vintage shelf edging. I am very intrigued and feel like I must buy some immediately for my kitchen. Excellent topic!

  9. RetroCo says

    I can’t stress how important it is to carefully check for original paper! It took me three tries before I found the originals under the pastel country contact paper in our house. The fun, colorful originals remain on almost every shelf in the house and seem much more resilient and better attached than their newer counterparts. If you still have some stickiness remaining from the removed contact paper, Magic Eraser works well, but you have to be careful not to scrub too hard or some vintage papers will scratch.

  10. says

    This makes me think of bulletin board border. It comes in many styles, with different edge types, scalloped and straight. You can find it at your local school/teacher supply store and they make it in countless styles for almost any bulletin board theme. I would imagine that it would be easy to tack up to the edge of the shelf to use as edging, and it is really inexpensive, so you could change it out through the different seasons of the year, if you so desired!

  11. sumac sue says

    Funny — I got to the end of these posts to tell about bulletin board border, and there was Missouri Michael with the same idea. It comes in lots of styles other than school themes — plaids, flowers, snowflakes, etc. Not quite like the originals, but, inexpensive and easily acquired, as Michael says. (I’ve not used it as shelf border, but, I used to be a teacher aide, and had great fun tacking it up around bulletin boards.)

  12. says

    What a wonderfull solution to the unattractive leading edge on new wire shelving systems. May I also suggest salvaging lace edging from otherwise unuseable table linens, which proliferate. as any Executor can attest. As a 28yr Housepainter, I have the priviledge of being the last to see many time capsules. Y’All don’t want to know the rest… Thanks for creating this beautifull forum!

  13. Sherrie says

    Thank you for the article. I was searching for information on what the 4 thumbtacks on each shelf in my salvaged cabinets were for (I believe they were from a butler’s pantry in an old Victorian home in Seattle). They have been painted over then u*** [edited] marbled shelf paper wrapped each shelf. We picked them up in an architectural salvage store for our renovated 1909 farm house. I’m excited to clean, strip and return them back to their original glory and find some vintage edging! Currently some of the links in your article do not work any longer. But I’ll do some more searching.
    Thanks again for the information!

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