Sunday, May 27, 2012

Our Kitchen

Apartments are ridiculously expensive in Jackson.  We have really really cheap rent because we know the owner of our condo.  She lives in Idaho and doesn't bother us, and we don't bother her.  If something goes wrong with the apartment, we fix it.  That's the deal.  Because of this awesome deal, we pay about $400-500 under the going rate for a 2 bedroom apartment.  It's excellent.

Because the condo owner doesn't seem to care too much about this apartment, it hasn't really been updated in... forever.  The kitchen is tiny and old and sort of ewwy, but we're used to it.  Still, the counters bugged me when we first moved in, so I covered them with contact paper.  A year later, the contact paper was looking less than fresh, so I redid it.  It sounds super ghetto because it is. BUT.  If you live in an apartment with gross countertops, and you don't mind taking a few hours to work on a project that cost next to nothing, you should try this.  Warning:  it does leave sticky stuff on your counters, so you'll have to use a lot of goo-gone and elbow grease to get the stuff off when you move.  Still, the end result is surprisingly great.

I got blue faux-granite contact paper from the Dollar Tree.  Yep.  This entire project cost me about $6. 

First step:

Look at how terrible your counters are.  Complain, and pout.

Doesn't look that bad until you look closely and realize that people have used the counter as a cutting board for years and years and years.  Apparently wood cutting boards are just too posh for some people.

Mmmmm, old, stained, AND cracked!!
The old countertops compared to the new contact paper countertops
Our cast of characters (or tools, whatevs):  some sort of stiff card (credit, library, whatever), an X-acto knife, scissors
The most difficult part of this project is lining up the edges of the paper with the edge of your counter.  You can always cut anything that hangs over the edge closest to you, but you want the back edge to look good, or it will be super obvious that you use contact paper on your countertops.  I recommend laying the paper with the backing still on it and pushing it down onto the counter; if you get the counter a big wet, it'll create a natural stickiness and you can see where you need to cut your first piece.  I fold the edge down and crease it so I remember about where to cut.  Now comes the hard part:  line up the side edge of the paper with the side edge of the counter, as well as lining up the back edge.  Peel a bit of the paper off and stick it to the edge, making sure that it's lined up nicely on the back and the sides.  Slooowly peel off the backing while pressing down the vinyl paper.  Use the credit card to smooth out the paper while it is slowly being stuck.  Make sure there are no air bubbles.  If you mess up, pull it up right away, but slowly, so it doesn't stretch out of shape. 

What it looks like when it's done
Here's the awesome thing about patterned contact paper:  if you mess up, it's not that obvious.  Let's say that you put down a bit that's not coming up: simply cut the strip with an X-acto knife (carefully, so as not to cut the horrible countertop below) and place a new piece of paper with a slight overlap.  You want to make sure there's overlap on every piece of contact paper - I recommend about a centimeter.  This way you won't have water escaping underneath.  Every time you put down a bit of paper, whole sheet or a tiny bit to cover an imperfection, use the credit/library/whatever card to firmly press it down.  You want the overlapped parts to be as smooth as possible.  This makes it easy to clean (just use water and soap or surface cleaner), and keeps crumbs from gathering in the in-between bits.

Just like regular countertops, contact paper does stain.  You can try to get the stain off or you can just peel it off and put down more paper.  If it's a big enough area, you can try covering it will additional paper; if you have lighter stuff than the blue above, you'll see the overlap, though, so be warned.

This is how it looks with the appliances in their proper places:

You look good, super ghetto Dollar Tree countertops.

The whole kitchen (we have terrible light in our apartment, my apologies):

I think the light blue brightens the place off, and shows off the gross faux-wood laminate cabinets.  Seriously, how freaking small is this kitchen?  That's the ENTIRE THING.

So that's my tip of the day.  Nasty countertops can easily be covered with contact paper for super cheap.  Just takes time, patience, an X-acto knife, scissors, and a library card, and you're done.  Easy-peasy.  Seems to last for a year if you're careful with it. 


  1. Wow that's cool! It looks really good!

  2. Oh wow, that's quite awesome

  3. Hey Honey! You told me about your project but I hadn't seen it till now. What an improvement! I'm amazed that contact paper works so well and looks so good! It really updates the place. Good job!

  4. How did you do the corner. I have yet figured that out. Getting ready to do this myself. But cannot figure out how to do the corner section. Any hints or ideas?

  5. The corner is a bit of a pain. I used an x-acto knife to cut as close as I could to the corner and sort of just made it work. I know that makes no sense. But you just have to go with it.

  6. Does the contact paper peel up when it gets wet? I have a super busy kitchen. Counters always get wet or have something on them like Kool-Aid stains I have to scrub, dried mustard and so forth. Just wondering if it will be a constant issue of replacing.

  7. How did you do the angled area of the countertop? I am trying to decide which way to place the paper - from back to front or horizontal. What do you think?