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.

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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!
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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.

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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).

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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.

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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…).

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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.
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