UPDATE: Contact Paper Kitchen Makeover

Last year, I did a cheap makeover of my rental kitchen. The most dramatic portion of that makeover was updating the kitchen by using white contact paper on the cabinets and drawer fronts:

Previous Kitchen Makeover with Contact Paper Before and After rental apartment cabinets drawers cupboards The Decor Guru

The biggest reason for using the contact paper was to balance out the funky colored/patterned counters. It also really opened up the space and modernized it. Even the maintenance guy was impressed! Two months ago, I moved and finally had to remove the contact paper. So how did that work? Continue reading for my final analysis of the project.

People like my mom and my rental company were concerned the paper would damage the wood. I was never worried about this though, because I tested a small piece of it before embarking on the project.

I’m happy to report I was right; the contact paper did not damage the cabinets/drawers. It did, however, leave some sticky residue in random spots. It took a bit of time, but I was able to remove it with an adhesive remover and elbow grease. It was still a worthy venture,

Thankfully, I don’t have the desire to do this again in my new apartment. Although my new kitchen has identical cabinets, the countertop is solid white. So coordinating a color scheme will be much easier this time around.

The verdict? Proceed with caution and do a small test first, if possible. Consider the room in which you’re using it: will it be humid, hot, or greasy? Also, not all contact paper is created equal. I’ve used the chrome effect paper with other projects, and it’s much stickier than the white I used in this makeover.

What do you think of using contact paper in decor? Have you ever used contact paper in a makeover project?

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37 Comments on UPDATE: Contact Paper Kitchen Makeover

  1. I don’t understand why the rental company made you move it, it looked great!

    • Thanks! Yeah, not sure why they didn’t want it. The white cabinetry looked so much better. I appreciate your stopping through to comment!

      • By the way, if you ever do a project like this and have to remove the contact paper, the sticky residue is easily removed with a great product called: Goo Gone. Your cabinets looked great with the contact paper! I might just do my bathroom cabinets 🙂 Thanks!!!

  2. I think this little project made all the difference in the world.
    I must say… I never considered using contact paper until I saw how my mother and father in law used contact paper in their home.
    They covered orange laminate shower surround with WHITE CONTACT PAPER. (wow!)
    They covered the bathroom wall of the same bathroom with little rose bud covered wallpaper in pink–.
    They covered the plywood cupboard over the john with wood grain contact paper. It might sound awful…but it looked so much better. They had the cutest little cottage in the Ozark Mountains.
    My father in law used wood grain contact paper and covered their kitchen cabinets. They looked like OAK! They “papered” the kitchen walls with it too. Easily wiped clean.
    AND …in his bathroom… it was blue- they used blue flower contact paper.
    So…how did I copy this?
    I had shower board in my bathroom when I moved into my home here in the country…and the board had a small nick in it…that was beginning to swell. No money, right? So I used a scraper with a razor blade and some sand paper and made that section smooth…and filled with putty. Then I covered it with “Marble-ized” contact paper. It held for years and wiped clean after showers (that is key) …until we finally replaced it with fiberglass.

    Contact paper—works!
    Glad you showed this. Even though I’ve seen enough contact paper in my life to write a book on it…some young homemaker needs to know about this useful material.
    Renters are sure to benefit from it too.

    • Very cool—I bet the marble contact paper looked great! When I first came across contact paper, my first thought was things of the 60s or 70s… which I love, but I just didn’t immediately think contact paper would be in my arsenal of makeover items. So you’re right about it needing a voice for a younger generation—great point!

      Thanks for your compliment, taking the time to comment and share!

  3. Wow! What a genius idea! I would have never thought of this! Looks great! Would love it if you would link this up to Give Me The Goods Monday: 1 Party, 4 Blogs! http://rainonatinroof.com/2013/07/give-me-the-goods-monday-19/
    Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  4. Very cool idea for when you are in a rental and can’t make changes. I remember my mom painstakingly cutting out contact paper flowers for rental cabinets we had when I was younger

  5. Carrie From Carrie This Home // 07/29/2013 at 8:34 AM // Reply

    I’m amazed the contact paper didn’t damage the cabinets! That’s great. I love the fact that you’re blogging about DIY projects for renters. Thanks for linking this up to Frugal Crafty Home!

    • Thanks! I think because the cabinet/drawer faces had a laminate-ish coating, it helped result in no damage? But then the sides were finished wood, and those ended up OK also. I appreciate the comment and your stopping over!

  6. It looks wonderful and interesting to find out how it worked. Thanks for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  7. The contact paper looked great and I’m glad you were able to remove it without damage. Great job.

  8. This is a great idea. I covered a fridge with contact paper once when we moved into a new to us home and our fridge didn’t match. It worked like a charm and if anyone suspected anything they never said a word.

  9. bonniebes // 08/01/2013 at 10:52 PM // Reply

    I remember my mother using contact paper in a bathroom when I was growing up. This would have been probably early 1970s. I tell her all the time she was ahead of her time. That woman could do anything. Thanks for the memory.

  10. Wow! I would not have thought to do this. The closest thing I’ve done is to cover my husband’s beer fridge in contact paper that looked like stainless steel. I’m visiting from the 504 Main link party.

    Christy @ Creating a Beautiful Life

  11. Happy Friday! My Friday Flash Blog linky party is live @ The Jenny Evolution – a flash mob of blogs where you share your favorite posts of the week. Hope to see you there — you may just get highlighted next week!


  12. I found you on the Inspire Me Please Bloghop and I love what you did with the contact paper! I’ve been thinking of doing this as a back splash to cover up a weird paint job in the house we’re renting. I’ll have to try and test strip and see if it works 🙂

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting! You should totally try out the contact paper. If it leaves your wall in tact, what do you have to lose?! Only suggestion I have is to make sure the wall underneath is nice and smooth. If the paint job isn’t, then all those bumps will appear under the contact paper.

  13. What a; neat idea. Thank you for linking up at SEWlicous Craft Showcase. I hope you link up again at this weeks party! http://sewlicioushomedecor.com/saturday-showlicious-craft-showcase-44/

    Thank you for participating!

  14. i never would have thought of that, what a great transformation. thank you so much for lining up to the before and after party!

  15. Great idea and a wonderful project!! The gang over at My Personal Accent think your post about the Contact Paper Kitchen Makeover is brilliant. We would like to invite you to party with us starting at 5:00 Thursday nights at our new Blog Strut Peacock Style Link Party to share your creative ideas. Come on over!! http://wp.me/P2Vf55-1K

  16. I have a country kitchen and three of the doors which have wallpaper on them are in need
    of a border as the wallpaper has been up for 33 years and is coming off a bit. I figured if
    maybe I could use self adhesive contact paper to create a border but not sure if it will
    properly adhere to the old wallpaper. Would you know? Also, can you recommend a manufacturer whose contact paper is the best quality for such a job? And, do you know what kind of adhesive is best to use to secure the existing wallpaper to the door? Any answers you might have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Marilyn

    • It’s very possible contact paper would adhere to the wallpaper, especially if it’s cleaned first, although I don’t truly know. The contact paper I used was from Home Depot and was made by Con-Tact, and you can check it out here. I’ve heard of people buying it from the Dollar Store too, but I’ve never bought it so I can’t attest to the quality of it. It could be worth trying out though, for just a buck.

      Another option that could be cheaper for you is if you just create a border with paper or just to reattach your existing wallpaper, and use glue to attach it to the wallpaper. If you go this route, I suggest using Mod Podge because it’s so easy to apply. Also, you can use Mod Podge as a sealer on top of the paper.

      If you have any more questions, feel free to ask! I hope this helps!

  17. I’m about to move into a rental home with really dark kitchen cabinets (and black appliances – talk about a cave!) I was trying to think of a way to brighten the cabinets because I’m assuming the rental company won’t want me to paint them, and contact paper was the first thing to come to mind. I was worried about damaging the cabinets or the contact paper coming off (really glossy stain/paint). Any tips? I know I should find a pattern/color I like and try it out first, but if you could offer anything in advance that would be great!

    • With the white contact paper I used, it wasn’t too sticky. However, when I removed it there was a little residue I had to scrub off the laminated wood cabinets. So you may want to test it or choose something else that is adhesive but not permanent. Perhaps paper and double-sided tape or using liquid starch and fabric?

  18. Hi there, I realize I’m quite late to the game here… But I am just wondering how you went from having no hardware on the original cabinets to then having it afterwords? I assume since they wouldn’t let you paint or leave the contact paper, they also wouldn’t let you drill holes, so how did you do it?


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