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A Cheap and Cheerful Kitchen Cabinet Makeover

by - Wednesday, January 29, 2020

It's the end of January which means I'm starting to get a little stir crazy. The weather is still cold but less snowy, the days are getting longer, and I'm eager to start on some home projects. I decided it was time to tackle this very small and very easy project which I've been meaning to do for the longest time! This kitchen cabinet makeover hit the 3 C's: it's cheap, it's cheerful, and it can be completed in one afternoon. If you want to bring a bit of fun into your kitchen, give this kitchen cabinet makeover using shelf liner a try.

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Kitchen Cabinet Organization


While our kitchen is a good size and functional, I've always disliked this particular cabinet. It's the home for our small appliances, our tea and coffee, food containers  and water bottles. Translation: it gets used every day... which means I get to look at this jumbled mess every day. The idea for this kitchen cabinet makeover literally hit me over the head as tupperware containers came spilling out on me one day - something had to be done!


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This redo would just be focused on the interior of the cabinet. While I would have loved to repaint the cabinets, change out the doors, or do a full kitchen renovation, none of those are in the budget at the moment so I'll settle for an easy cosmetic makeover.

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A quick way to refresh your kitchen cabinets? Just organize what's inside! A neat and organized cupboard can feel brand new. There were a lot of things in this kitchen cabinet that didn't need to be here so while I was prettying up this space, I also took the time to:
  • move things that we don't use frequently to our basement storage
  • toss out any expired items
  • throw out any teas and drink mixes that we don't like and will never use
  • remove teas from packaging and store them in uniform containers
  • put similar items together 
  • toss out any containers without lids
  • get rid of any extra water bottles

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The bottom cabinet was where we stored all of our Tupperware. I've tackled Tupperware organization before and it is not easy - no matter what you do, I find that those items always look messy! We're trying to reduce our plastic consumption overall so luckily we don't have that many plastic food containers. I did need a way though to keep what we do have from spilling out onto the floor.

Shelf Liner Ideas

My aim with this DIY kitchen cabinet makeover was simply to add colour and pattern, reorganize, and make the cabinet more efficient. For this project, I wanted to use shelf liner, also known as contact paper. When you're working on a budget, shelf liner is a great accessory. An 18"x20' roll will cost about $12 and is more than enough to line say an entire bathroom vanity or most of your kitchen cabinets.

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You can buy shelf liner with adhesive or non-adhesive. I prefer to use adhesive shelf liner as it stays in place and is very easy to remove and reposition. Don't think shelf liner or contact paper is just for your shelves - it has many different and clever uses and comes in almost any pattern you can imagine. I've used it for:

Because shelf liner is removable, you can attach to it to almost any surface without damaging it. I wanted to use it for this project almost like wallpaper. It's a fun way to modernize and update kitchen cabinets and make them look good. Here's how I did it in 7 easy steps:

Materials required:

Credit card or any kind of hard card

How to Use Shelf Liner With Adhesive


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Step 1: Clean and empty the cabinet


First step is to empty and clean the cabinet. Remove the doors and shelves if you can. This will make it easer to apply the shelf liner in later steps as you're not having to cut around the shelves.

behr swipes

Our shelves had scuff marks from the rubber feet on the bottom of the small appliances which I couldn't remove with water or household cleaner. For tuff marks, I use Behr Swipes. I'm not a fan of Magic Erasers (I find they crumble to easily) but these work similarly, just in cloth form. These wiped off the marks so easily, no scrubbing required. I also use the Swipes regularly on our painted walls and stairs to take off shoe marks, fingerprints, and other stains.


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Step 2: Measure the area


Next step is to measure the width and length of the area you want to cover. You'll want to take two measurements for each - at the top and bottom, and at the left and right. This is because your shelving might not be square, and one side might be longer than the other. If that's the case, always use your longest measurement.


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Step 3: Cut your first piece of shelf liner

Chances are you will need more than one piece of shelf liner to cover the entire area. The first area I was covering was 31" high by 32" wide. My blue gingham shelf liner was only 18" wide so I would need at least two strips laid vertically to cover the full area.

I cut my first strip at 18"x31". NOTE: You should always leave a margin of at least 1/2" to account for any uneven walls. So while my first strip was 18" wide, it would overlap the left side corner by 1/2" so it only covered 17.5" inches.


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Step 4: Adhere your first piece

The shelf liner has a removable backing. From one corner, pull it back about 12". Place the shelf liner in one corner of your cabinet, overlapping the corner by 1/2". Work horizontally, lining up the top of the shelf liner to the top of your cabinet. Pull the backing downward as you adhere the lining down the wall.

Note: If your liner has a pattern, you're going to want to make sure your pattern is level. You can use a level, or eyeball it. Shelf liner is easily repositionable so don't be afraid to remove it and reposition it in the correct spot. Try not to remove it too much though or it will lose its stickiness.

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Step 5: Remove the air bubbles

Use a credit card or any type of hard card to remove the air bubbles. Place the card at an angle to the wall and apply pressure as you move downward, pushing out any air to the edges of the liner. For stubborn bubbles, you can also poke them with a pin to let out the air.

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Step 6: Cut away excess liner

Place a metal ruler against the corner and use a utility knife to cut away the excess liner. Make sure your knife has a nice new sharp blade. This will ensure a clean cut and your knife won't snag on the liner.

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Step 7: Measure your second piece.

Measure for your second piece of liner. Now here's where things get tricky if you have a patterned liner: you need to overlap the edges of the liner so that the patterns line up. The bigger the pattern (ie. the bigger the 'repeat'), the wider this overlap will be. For my liner, it had a small 3/4" gingham pattern so my overlap was at most 3/4". Since the liner is very thin, the two layers on top of each other won't be noticeable.

Once you have your second piece cut, follow Steps 3 to 6 and repeat as necessary.

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Here's how the cabinet looked once I got all of the shelf liner installed. It looks so much prettier already! Finally, let's take a look at the kitchen cabinet makeover Before and After:

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Ahhh, it's so much more organized and neat. First thing I notice is that you still see the patterned liner. It's still visible even with the cabinet filled. Now, everything is accessible and nothing is in danger of falling on my head when I open the door ;)

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Organizationally, I made a few changes:
  • Small appliances were moved to the middle shelf for easier access.
  • Tea bags were collected and stored in uniform, stackable clear containers from the dollar store.
  • Similar items were stored together. Now there's a tea area, a hot chocolate area etc.
  • I moved other frequently used items here (e.g. coffee beans, extra spices) and also put them in tall uniform containers


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The tupperware cabinet did see some marginal improvements as well. I used two boxes with their tops and sides cut off on a slant for holding the container lids. I used leftover shelf liner to wrap the boxes, though this will come off at some point because the liner doesn't adhere well to cardboard paper.

I put smaller containers together in a smaller plastic bin, and stacked everything else. Round containers are in one area, nested Tupperware in another area, and then odd shaped boxes elsewhere. I'll never be able to completely get rid of the food containers or all of the water bottles, but at least they finally look neat.

And with that, this DIY kitchen cabinet makeover has transformed this cabinet from messy and chaotic to cute and cheery. I've still got some shelf liner left over... what should I transform next??

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