DIY Chalkboard

cabinet-doorI’ve been wanting to update my kitchen cabinet doors, but since I change my mind a lot I figured painting was too much of a commitment (not to mention a lot of work). After removing a few of the doors to open up the space (read about that project here), I decided to turn some of the remaining doors into chalkboards. This creates a convenient space to make lists, jot down notes before I forget them, or display temporary artwork.

You can purchase chalkboard paint at hardware stores, but again, painting requires a decent amount of effort and commitment. A much easier, cheaper method is black contact paper! You can purchase contact paper marketed specifically as “chalkboard contact paper,” but I’ll let you in on a secret–it’s exactly the same stuff as plain black contact paper, which you can purchase at most home improvement stores (I bought mine for $6.99 at Fred Meyer).

Simply measure the area of your cabinet door, cut the paper to fit, and stick it on. My door required two pieces, but you can barely see the seam. A few things to keep in mind while putting up large pieces of contact paper:

  1. Clean the surface before you use it (contact paper likes a smooth, non-greasy surface)
  2. Peel off a bit of the contact paper backing at a time and smooth out bubbles as you go
  3. Contact paper is fairly easy to remove and re-position, so remain calm if it’s crooked–just peel off and try again

My supplies for chalkboard labels

I also love the look of chalkboard labels on jars and cans, so I purchased a paper punch from the craft store. The one I bought is called “flourish square” from Martha Stewart Crafts and is super easy to use. Regular chalk works perfectly well on black contact paper, but for more precise lettering or for writing in smaller spaces (like the labels) I recommend a liquid chalk marker. These can also be purchased at most craft stores.

Below are some ideas to get your crafty juices flowing. If you make something, I’d love to hear about it!


Here’s a cabinet door in my kitchen–lots of space for shopping lists, recipes, and doodling.


A pretty idea for a fridge sticker–just trace a design on the paper before cutting it out.


More fridge stickers–according to her blog, the bottom sheet is for the author’s kids to scribble on. Neat!


For a framed version, simply take the glass out of a picture frame and cover the cardboard insert with contact paper.


For a DIY version of this clock from ThinkGeek, just trace around your clock on the paper, stick it on the clock face, and make your own numbers!


These straws and cups were made with strips of black contact paper. Writable cup labels would be a cute idea for keeping tracking of guests’ cups at a party.


Jars labeled with black contact paper.


A cute way to let people know what’s behind the door!


Contact Paper: The Lazy Decorator’s Best Friend

I’ve been thinking about updating my kitchen cabinets. And lining the insides of my bookshelves. And putting a large-scale silhouette on one of my walls. Guess what product does all of those things? Contact paper! Not only is it easy to apply, it’s also easy to remove or rearrange (for any commitment-phobes like me who like to change their minds a lot). And, because you’re basically applying a big sticker to something, prep, application, and clean-up is fairly easy and offers near-instant gratification.

Contact paper has come a long way since Mom installed the orange & yellow flowered variety in her kitchen cabinets in the 70s. Places like Home Depot, Target, Michael’s, and JoAnn carry patterns that mimic trendy fabric designs, realistic marble, and wood grain.

A few things to note about contact paper before launching into a project: it typically features a plastic coating so is easy to wipe clean, but may not adhere well in moist environments such as steamy bathrooms and above a kitchen stovetop. Contact paper can get air bubbles trapped under it when you apply it, so it’s helpful to have a squeegee, ruler, or hardcover book to smooth it down with as you go. Most contact paper has a grid on the back of it to help you make straight cuts, but it helps to have a separate ruler and pencil, as well as a measuring tape to make sure you’re cutting the paper to fit perfectly.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it! Measure, cut, apply, and voila! Now for some inspiration:


Birch tree wall decals


Chevron striped walls


A dresser dressed up with stencils


Snazzy ceiling fan blades


Frosted glass


Zebra stairs