Why Don't You

Fabric as Wallpaper (in the Kitchen)

My dear friend and former college roommate, Emily, and her family recently moved to a new home in a new city. It has been so fun working with her a little (online) on her house projects and seeing the transformation of her beautiful home. I’m sure there will be more pictures of Emily’s home in…

My dear friend and former college roommate, Emily, and her family recently moved to a new home in a new city. It has been so fun working with her a little (online) on her house projects and seeing the transformation of her beautiful home.
I’m sure there will be more pictures of Emily’s home in future posts, but here are some photos of her kitchen.
Emily uses her blue milk glass collection to store all those little things that seem to pile up at the kitchen sink. Oddly, our sinks attract the exact same items: kids medicine syringes, water color brushes and jewelry.
Using magnetic containers from Bed, Bath and Beyond, Emily stores her herbs and spices on the side of her fridge. She likes that they are mostly hidden and off the counters, but still very accessible.
Adorable DIY message board…
Are you jealous, like I am, of Emily’s coat hooks and bench? She made the coat rack with an old piece of black walnut and hooks from Anthropolgie.
When Emily and her husband, Todd, purchased the house, the kitchen was pretty boring and outdated:
Here’s the ‘after’ shot. They have plans to put in french doors (not pictured) and to add hardwood to match the rest of the floors in the house. But it looks great now doesn’t it?
I think it’s cool that Emily has a computer on her counter. She wrote out all her recipes and has them stored here (the tower is hidden behind the moulding on top of the cabinets).
NOW! For the project that inspired the post title. Emily wanted a little punch of color and pattern in the sea of her newly painted white cabinets. Since wallpaper can be so expensive, and since Emily has the same fabric-collecting disease that I have, we decided to put some of her pretty fabric to good use in the kitchen.

One of my favorite things about using fabric as wallpaper is that it’s completely removable and does not damage your walls. Even the fabric comes out unscathed! It just needs a good washing to get all the starch out.

There are lots of tutorials online for how to hang fabric like wallpaper. Emily kindly wrote out her step-by-step here:
– Liquid starch (we were able to find some at Walmart)
– Fabric (While lightweight fabrics are traditionally recommended, we used a home decor weight material and just used more starch. It worked great.)
– Clean sponge
– Large pan (cookie sheet works perfectly)
– Push pins

1. Prime the backs of the cabinets with Zinsser water-based primer.

2. Cut your fabric to fit, with a few inches of allowance on all sides.

3. Pour the liquid starch into a clean pan. Using a clean sponge, apply starch to the top half of the cabinet wall and work your way down.

4. Again, starting at the top and working down, smooth the fabric into place on top of the starched wall. Apply starch with the sponge on top of the placed fabric. The goal is for the fabric to be pretty well soaked in starch.

5. Use a few push pins to hold the fabric in place as you smooth. Keep sponging and smoothing. A credit card works great for the sides and corners where you want everything to be tight and secure.

6. Let the starched fabric dry completely (overnight is usually long enough). The fabric will shrink as it dries, so be sure not to cut it when it’s still wet. We recommend using a sewing rotary or a sharp razor/X-acto knife to cut the dried fabric, but be careful not to press too hard and score the cabinets!

Great job, Todd and Emily! I love what a little color and pattern can do to any space!

Have a fun project that you’d like to share with LGN readers? Send your photos and submission to pearlstreetinteriors@gmail.com.
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48 thoughts on “Fabric as Wallpaper (in the Kitchen)

  1. I have used this starch/fabric method in my dining and living room. It worked so great and wasn't that difficult.

    Every time someone mentions using it in the kitchen I get nervous because exposed surfaces in the kitchen get so dirty, but this is great, a punch of color and pattern, but it's protected by the cabinet doors!


  2. I love this idea! I will have to find the right place to try it out.

    I have some magnetic spice containers that look just like what she's using on the side of her fridge, and I hate them. Everytime I try to use them, it's a headache to get them open and closed and about 1 in 3 times, I get spices everywhere. Cute, but I don't recommend it for spices. Maybe something tidier.

  3. I just did this in my bedroom. I hummed and haahed over it for three months thinking it would be a lot of work. It wasn't! Super simple and fast and I love it! That kitchen is beautiful. I would really love to get my hands on a little kitchen updating.

  4. I am dieing to try this in my bedroom! How to convince my husband we'll get our rent deposit back….

  5. Thanks for the fabric hanging instructions. I've always wanted to try it. It really perks up the kitchen.

    If you have a Costco, the magnetic spice tins are under $20. They do rust a little around the clear part if you wash them and don't get them dried quickly. Sorry to hear that they're messy. i have 12 waiting for labels and spices.

  6. Her kitchen looks amazing – very homey yet classic. I especially love the pop of colour and pattern in the glass-front cupboards and the memo board.

  7. Jenny, really beautiful. I love the fabric backdrop!!

    Art by Karena

    Art Giveaway up on my site, so come and join in!

  8. I am blown away by the whole kitchen make-over but the fabric wallpaper is especially lovely.

    Do you have the name of the fabric? And while I am asking… the paint color. It is a beautiful gray!

  9. Dear Emily and Jennica… great work! I LOVE the kitchen re-do- I so badly wanted white cabinets in our home but needed space more. I guess I will just have to drool over yours from here. Such style… as always.

    love keeping in touch


  10. I love this. Do you think it would look ok with open cabinets (no doors) or do you think it needs the doors to hide the edges? I think I have a weekend project! Thanks!

  11. Julialovesshoes: Emily said that the fabric would not stick on her regular latex-painted cabinets, but that it worked great on the zinsser surface.

    Also, the pendant light is from Pottery Barn. Forgot to mention that before.

    Thanks for all the nice comments!

  12. I am going to have to try this idea in my kitchen as I have a very old home with glass fron cabinets but the back wall is in horrible shape. This looks like the perfect solution!

  13. Oh my goodness! I'm reading along…kitchen, starch…..EMILY, magnets, paint…..TODD. Wait a minute…..Emily & Todd! Oh how I miss my old friends!

    The kitchen looks great ladies!! I really like the spices on the fridge idea.

  14. The kitchen looks great! Question about the message board – I've been wanting to make my own but can't figure what to put behind the cork? I know there are different widths of cork but I still feel like it's not thick enough. Can't wait to see the rest of the home!


  15. I just have to ask….I've heard people say time and again that the fabric comes off easily with no damage…does anyone have an after pic so that I can believe it. I've been wanting to try, but we're renting and the thought of damaging walls is scary.

    I think her kitchen looks fabulous and I love the punch of color…


  16. I used starch to hang all of the vintage hankerchiefs I have collected over the years. They make a nice border. Now I just need to find something to do with all those aprons!

  17. Are you able to share the fabric that she used. I would love to redo some chairs and I am in love with a Benison fabric but alas at almost 200 dollars wholesale it will not be mine. This looks very similar.

  18. Liz – it's Joel Dewberry from his Ginseng – Jasmine collection. I think it's on sale right now, since the line is being discontinued.

  19. Just found your blog and I am soooo inspired. I love the fabric idea. I have some sensitivities to strong smells like paint. Does the zinsner primer or the fabric starch have a strong and/or lingering smell?

  20. Hi, Jenny,

    This looks beautiful! I'm going to try it this weekend, but I'm curious if I need to use the Zinzzer primer or if I can just use Kilz that I have in the garage?


  21. Thanks for this post Jenny! I plan to try this out in the near future. I will be moving to an apartment where I don't want to do a lot of painting, so this will come in handy! I am going to blog about this on my blog! I want to share this with my readers.

    Thanks for the inspiration! The kitchen makeover is amazing! Love the gray walls and the white cabinets.


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  23. I have been using the fabrics at the back of my dressing cupboards and displays but never thought of kitchen. May I suggest that you should avoid using it near the oven because somehow it get the grease over time and becomes sticky.

  24. Love the idea but I'm concerned about the primer. Will it show if we take the fabric down when we go to sell the house? Or would there be something else we could use as a primer that would wash off later?

  25. I know this post is super old but I'm trying to get some DIY tips and tricks and I've been wondering about this for some time. I live in a log cabin and the owner says I can do anything I want….except paint the wood….and obvs theres tons of wood. I am dying to cover some of it and am trying to find different ways of doing it. Alot of the walls aren't in the best shape anymore after years of kids scribblings and whatnot. Do you think this would work on logs?

  26. This is just the information I was looking for! Clear, easy to follow and with information on how to remove it when you move or want a change you can see it. Thank you so much!

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