Easy Cabinet Refresh with Beadboard Wallpaper

Cabinet refresh with beadboard wallpaper

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I’ve previously shared the chalk painting refresh I did on our kitchen cabinets. It was the best option for low-quality cabinets. And while I’ve been happy with the cabinets, there has been one part I haven’t been able to get past: the ends of the cabinets.


The wood was so old and in bad shape that it didn’t take the paint as well as I would have liked. Between that and the fact that there were no baseboards, the cabinets just felt incredibly unfinished (despite being, well, really old).

Enter: Graham & Brown beadboard wallpaper!

I’ve never wallpapered a thing in my life, and because I was intimidated I thought this would be the perfect first project – there are only two cabinet ends and it’s such a small area that I figured I couldn’t do too much damage.

So, while my kiddos were hanging out in front of a movie, I decided to get to work.

I was a little perplexed when I read some tutorials on working with pre-pasted wallpaper. I wasn’t sure about how to work with it without getting everything in the house wet and covered with glue. At first I thought I would utilize a nearby bathroom to soak the sheets in the bathtub, but that seemed like it would still be messy.

So, I set up a station with a towel and a bucket. After I measured and cut a sheet of wallpaper, I rolled it up and soaked the sheet for 30 seconds, flipped it, and soaked for another 30 seconds, and then spread it out onto the towel. Using a foam roller, I added extra water to any areas that didn’t get wet in the bucket and to spread the glue around. Then I let the sheet sit for 5 minutes.


Once I had a sheet ready, I applied it to the wall and used a sponge to smooth out any air bubbles (helpful hint: I didn’t have any sponges in the house, so I used a Magic Eraser instead!).

I let the wallpaper dry for a day before trimming it at the bottom (the plan was to put a baseboard along the bottom anyway, so I didn’t have to worry how nicely I trimmed it).


Letting the paper dry for at least 1-2 days before painting it is about the right amount of time (or, you know, the 2-3 weeks I waited…). Even if leaving it white, I think a coat of paint is important to protect the wallpaper and to make it easier to clean all of the smudges my kids are inevitably going to leave behind.

I then added baseboards, which I would have waited to do after painting the wallpaper, but I was working on another baseboard project (which I can’t wait to share!), so I added the baseboard ahead of schedule.

I used a foam roller for painting and a foam brush for the edges. I found that two coats of paint plus touch ups was enough, although I definitely needed to wait a full 30-40 minutes in between coats of paint, otherwise it felt like the paint wasn’t adhering well.


Oh, and what paint did I use? Rust-Oleum Chalked of course! In Serenity Blue to match the rest of the cabinets.

I am just thrilled with the final result! This is definitely not a project that others will comment on – there will likely be no “Hey! Great beadboard on the cabinets!” comments from friends and family. Which is fine by me because now the cabinets look finished and easily blend into the background rather than feeling like an eyesore (now the counter tops are a whole other story in the eyesore department…).


It only took about an hour to get the wallpaper up on the two ends of my kitchen cabinets, and it definitely turned out to be a perfect first wallpapering project. Some things I learned in the process:

  • After hanging the wallpaper and smoothly out the air bubbles with a sponge, a lot of glue oozes out the top and bottom – be prepared to clean it up/protect your floor.
  • Make any special cuts that you can before getting the wallpaper wet. It seems like it would be easier to cut around obstacles while in the process of hanging the wallpaper, but the key word here is paper. It can – and will – rip.
  • Unlike actual beadboard, this is wallpaper and it is soft. It’s really easy to scuff and tear, which is why I think painting it is really important to help minimize these problems.
  • Because this is paintable wallpaper, seams and edges can be caulked before painting.
  • Wallpaper is addictive! I now want to wallpaper all. the. things.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with Chalk Paint on a Budget: A How-To Guide

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When we first toured our home, the kitchen made my soul sad. The ’90s oak. The decorative trim. The porcelain drawer pulls. Oh, my eyes!


We were slightly spoiled by the fact that our past three homes have been flips, so we’ve had brand new, never been used, kitchens.

Did the phrase “our past three homes” cause you to raise your eyebrows? Yes, we’re home buying pros at this point, a story to be told another day.

Anyway, once we knew this was the house for us, I immediately went into planning mode about how I could improve this kitchen, hopefully on a budget. I started by pricing out having the cabinets painted for us, but those quotes were rolling in at $3,000-$7,000. Moving along.

I found a million great blog posts about various techniques for DIY cabinet painting. What I knew was that with three young children, I needed to get the project done before we moved in, partly because I don’t trust my children to be around that significant of a project that’s in process, and partly because I knew it would be much harder to focus on getting the project completed after moving in, as unpacking and organizing would become priority.

That meant…painting the cabinets and rehanging the doors in 2.5 days! The only product I knew that would be up to the challenge was chalk paint. One of the primary advantages of chalk paint is that it’s easy to achieve a distressed look. However, it is also very fast drying and requires no sanding in advance, which is what I needed for this project.

After seeing in the blogosphere that chalk paint could be used on kitchen cabinets, I put my plan in motion, including recruiting my best friend to help me out for the weekend. I also opted for a chalk paint that I had used before and that was easily purchased from my local Home Depot, in case I ran out in the middle of the project: Rust-Oleum’s Chalked Paint.


I’d used this line of paint for furniture projects before and loved how easy it was to work with, and at roughly $20/quart it’s really affordable.

The supplies I gathered were:


The basic steps that I followed were:

Day 1 (8pm-11pm):

  • Remove cabinet doors, hinges, and drawers
  • Remove drawer pulls and door handles
  • Remove decorative trim from the top of the cabinets
  • Clean cabinet doors and sides of cabinets with a degreaser

Day 2 (8pm-4am):

  • One person paints cabinet doors and drawer faces – 2 coats plus touch ups
  • One person paints cabinet boxes – 2 coats plus touch ups

Day 3 (10am-noon):

  • Install drawer pulls and door knobs
  • Hang cabinet doors
  • Put drawers back

After the move (3 hours):

  • Apply 3 thin coats of Rust-Oleum matte top coat

So, for roughly 16 hours and about $175, my kitchen went from a ’90s time capsule to serene farmhouse.

Budget Chalk Paint Kitchen-1.png

One of the unexpected surprises was that the mosaic tile border that really isn’t my taste actually looks great with the color of the lower cabinets. It’s basically meant to be.

It’s been almost a year since I finished this project, and I’m happy to say that overall things have held up really well. Unfortunately Rust-Oleum’s matte finish does not seal the paint as well as I would like, so I have a few cabinets that have gotten a bit stained. I have plans to do a touch up and then re-seal everything, which is a pretty easy project since the lion’s share of the work has already been done.

Since my cabinets are old and not great quality, I didn’t have to think twice about painting them. There is no way I could make them any worse!

Final tips and tricks:

  • I wish I had thought to use little paint rollers – it would have made a lot of the work go much faster!
  • I balanced the cabinet doors on books or other items so that they’d be elevated, allowing me to paint the edges.
  • I didn’t paint the backs of the doors to save on time.
  • Because our house painters were coming after I finished this project, I didn’t tape around the cabinets to protect that wall, but you will probably want to add that to your list.
  • Purchasing 4 quarts of paint was plenty – we used about 1.5 quarts of each color, and have extra for touch ups.
  • Having a few cocktails in you before starting the project makes things a lot more fun.

It’s been SO MUCH FUN getting back into the swing of blogging…until next time!