Cupboard Makeover: Details Matter!

If you’ve been hanging around here for a while, you may recall that I started spiffying up the kitchen back in March.  I applied a fancy vinyl quatrefoil backsplash which got the party started in there.   Then, about two months later, I carried the new color scheme and feel of the backsplash area over into the breakfast nook and painted some fun, thick stripes which tied the two areas of the kitchen together.

So now, here it is almost three months after all that, and I’m just realizing how horrid my one glass cabinet is.  I mean, I guess I should say I realized it a while ago, but I’m just now getting around to doing something about it.

Here is what it looked like just after I applied the vinyl backsplash (before I finished the last two inches of the vinyl in this area, I guess… what the heck?).   I had put my Polish pottery pieces my MIL brought me back from Germany in there along with a hodge podge of other things…. random cake plates, other serving pieces, super attractive (sarcasm) cookbooks.

The Polish pottery was a must-go so I found another spot for it and pulled in some of my white dishes like so:
And here it has sat for the past two months. 
My problem was that I wanted to do something fun to the back of the cupboard but didn’t know what.  I didn’t want to paint it.  I didn’t want to spend a lot of time, energy or money on anything.  I didn’t want anything I did to be permanent.  Why do I give myself so many rules??
Then, last week, like the trumpets of angels, I got my inspiration!  I saw a feature (and I’ve looked and looked and can NOT find it now dangit!) where someone had applied fabric to the backs of her shelving using liquid starch!!  Yes!  This answered all my criteria… easy, not permanent, and cheap!
I realize some of you may have known of this ingenious trick forever but it was new to me.  If it’s new to you, here is how you do it.
Supplies needed:
  • Fabric of choice cut to size… cut at least one inch larger than area as fabric tends to shrink!
  • Liquid starch.  That huge bottle is $3.  After looking at a couple of stores, I found it at WalYuck, go figure.
  • A large bowl or bucket.
Soak fabric in enough liquid starch to saturate it all the way through.
Squeeze out excess starch and apply to back of shelving.  Smooth with hands removing wrinkles and air bubbles.  Total application time = 15 minutes.
See how it shrunk?  Shrinked?  Whatever that word is.  
“Women know about shrinkage, right?”  –George Costanza
When I realized what was happening with the shrinkage (“It shrinks?” –Elaine Benes)  I scooted it all down toward the bottom and then ended up adding another little strip along the top.  It’s barely noticeable because my fabric doesn’t have a pattern, but make sure you cut your fabric larger than the area so this doesn’t happen to you!
After the fabric was dry (I let it dry overnight), I put the shelves back in and accessorized!
I moved my cookbooks to another location and gathered up more white dishes to put on the shelves.   I also grabbed that cute plant and container at Ikea to add into the mix.   And did you notice I finished the vinyl there?  Yay me.
A couple of mini makeovers within the makeover:
Spray painted Goodwill frame with one of my favorite pictures in it:
And I took this Goodwill find:
To this with a little spraypaint and some sandpaper:
(oh, and some fake pears)
And this is when I was once again reminded how important the details are.  I wish the above picture could really show you what a huge difference this has made… take my word for it?  
I absolutely loved this project, by the way.  Applying that fabric with liquid starch was so fun & easy!  I highly recommend it.  I actually did it TWICE… the first fabric I chose turned out HIDEOUS.  It was gray and white patterned (the last thing I need was another gray and white pattern in there) and the gray was off.  Like, way off.   Why do I tell you this?  Because, when I went to remove the gray & white fabric after it had dried completely… it peeled right off, clean as a whistle!  Perfect for renters or the non-committal types (like myself).


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  1. says

    You are right- it’s definitely in the details. I’m currently working in my laundry room and I may have to use this idea. Thanks for sharing it!

  2. says

    Marvelous, Fantastic, Great, Way To Go!! I have the same type of set up with pretty stained cupboards, not really a candidate for paint (yet). Thanks for the inspiration. Vicki

  3. says

    What a fantastic idea! I’ve spent at least three months looking at my boring china cabinet wondering how I can add something to the back that won’t be permanent! Thanks for the great tip! Now I just need to find some time to get it done!

  4. says

    WalYuck?? That is HILARIOUS! I’ve heard all sorts of names, but I think that one is the funniest.

    Fantastic job on your cupboard. Never heard of doing this before. So glad you shared.

  5. says

    Looks great. I did fabric on the backs of my living room built-ins and didn’t want to mess with the starch (my shelves weren’t removeable and it just seemed like it would be a mess trying to get wet fabric worked in behind them) so I velcro-ed it at the top and just fed it down through the small gaps behind the shelves. It hangs perfectly and will be so easy to change down the road if I want. I’m thinking about the starched fabric on some hideous mirrored closet doors though.


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