Ten Minute Makeover: Cabinet with Wallpaper Backing

When I first spotted the subject of my latest ten minute makeover, I had just declared that I didn't need any more furniture in my home office. I had just finished spray painting my yellow chair, hanging my pegboard, and putting my new desk and dresser in place. It was a rainy Saturday morning, and my husband and I were perusing some garage sales to see if we could find cheap frames or wall art—no furniture, absolutely not.

Isn't it funny how quickly our minds change when we see something with potential? Oh, and the handwritten “FREE” sign helped, too.


This little cabinet had seen better days. It was in pretty good shape, aside from the big ol' hole in the backing and some dirt, dust, and spots where the paint had worn away.

The hole up close

Lucky for me, the backing on my new acquisition was particleboard, and secured in place with some simple little nails. (The rest of the cabinet is actually real wood! I was pleasantly surprised.) So the hole didn't worry me, and I knew I could always hammer on a new back. I grabbed a hammer, pried out the nails, and tossed the backing in the trash.

No more backing!

Easy enough, right? Once the backing was out of the way, I cleaned the cabinet with a cloth and got rid of all the dust and dirt. I also gave the wood a quick once-over sanding, focusing mostly on the top of the unit. It looked like moisture had affected the original paint job, so I sanded it down until the surface was ready for primer and paint.

Primed and painted

One coat of primer and white paint later and my new friend was looking much better! After everything dried, I lugged it inside, up the stairs, and into my little home office. You know, the one that didn't need any more furniture. “I'll find something to do with it,” I remember declaring to my husband.

At that point, I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do about the missing backing. I toyed with the idea of leaving it open, but my office has baseboards, meaning it wouldn't sit flush with the wall. I also didn't want to spend much time on it, at least not at that point. But then I glanced at the pile of unused wallpaper samples that had been relocated to my office...

Testing out the wallpaper backing

I swear you could actually hear the light bulb click on above my head. I cut down and quickly taped a few samples into place, then stepped back to take a look. I wasn't disappointed! As it just so happened, a large majority of the samples I had contained gold metallic elements, so while I couldn't cover the entire backing with one piece, they were enough to fill in each “section.” I quickly trimmed up the pieces to properly fit, grabbed some small wood nails, and hammered them into place.


And there's the end result! While I'm still figuring out what to actually put on the shelves (and inside the little door—which has a nice surprise of rich brown and gold paper behind it), I do like the way it came out. The paper is all neutral with a hint of sheen, so it doesn't jump out at you but still looks nice. And if I decide I want to move the cabinet somewhere else, I can always repaint it, pry off the paper, and replace it with something else. Pretty good for something I got for free, right?

While I was at it, I took it upon myself to conduct another quick project with a few more of those wallpaper samples I mentioned...

Framed wallpaper samples

I popped a few cut pieces into 4“x6“ frames from IKEA and hung them above the cabinet. I'll probably move them—the silver elements clash with the gold ones beneath—but again, this is a versatile and extremely easily modified project. I was pretty proud for getting two things done in such a short amount of time... although, admittedly, I spent way longer than ten minutes pondering what to do about the cabinet backing.

That concludes my latest ten minute makeover! What do you think of my cabinet with wallpaper backing? Is this something you could see yourself attempting with a wallpaper sample and some inexpensive (or even free) furniture, or do you have an even better idea? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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