Overhaul Your Kitchen for $20 (Plus Tax)

Before....and after!!

Before....and after!!

When I moved into my new apartment, I loved that it came with a refrigerator, a dishwasher, AND a washer/dryer. I did not, however, love that all three white appliances were lined up in a row in my otherwise-adorable vaguely rustic-Mexican-inspired kitchen.

To make matters worse, the fridge "came with" a cheap ugly little dry-erase board "magneted" to the large door. I wanted to remove it so I pulled it off--the board came away in my hand, leaving behind the "magnets" inexplicably glued to some sort of backing that had become permanently affixed to the fridge. Sadface.

This is also not the newest fridge, so no matter how much elbow grease I used, some of the scuffs and stains just would not go away. So I decided to just cover over the imperfections.

Some Pinteresting uncovered this cool project that resulted in an awesome-looking fridge, but it seemed to involve a lot of contact paper and even more effort. It was made very clear in my lease that this refrigerator was my responsibility (must have been just left there by the last tenant), so I figured I didn't need to make sure the beautification was removable.

I decided that chalkboard paint would be a fun alternative. I thought a chalkboard-black fridge might be a lot of darkness in my teeny-tiny kitchen, but after a couple of months of living with Ugly Fridge, I decided what the hell.

So during my next trip to Mark's Paints (where I get all my paint because they carry Benjamin Moore and my mom says I can't use anything but Benjamin Moore and she has never steered me wrong even when I really really thought she was), I asked for chalkboard paint. The employee who was helping me informed me that I could get any Benjamin Moore color I wanted as a chalkboard paint!! Game. Changer. I didn't have to live with a big black (or green) refrigerator--I could actually pick the perfect color! I taped six paint chip strips to the fridge for a couple of weeks to decide exactly what I wanted (I settled on Blue Note).

So I bought a quart of Benjamin Moore Blue Note in the chalkboard finish--which quite literally cost $19.99 before tax. GREAT investment. Oh, and that's the caveat: this will cost $20 if you already have painting supplies. And Q-tips.

Let's paint this sucker!

DIY Chalkboard Refrigerator


  • Chalkboard paint (a quart should be plenty for a standard refrigerator, I had about a third left over)
  • Painter's tape
  • Paintbrush or roller (I would either use a finer-bristled brush or a roller if I were to do this over again--once it dried there are some fairly obvious brush marks on the smooth doors that I could do without)
  • Tray (if you're using a roller)
  • Teeny-tiny paintbrush or sponge-brush (for cleaning up the edges)
  • Q-tips (for wiping away mistakes)
  • Dropcloth or newspapers to protect the floor

1. Thoroughly clean the surface and try to remove anything that's permanently stuck on it. Even the ugly brand sticker! Comes off if you use a knife, turns out.

taking fountain los angeles DIY chalkboard refrigerator project sticker.jpg

2. Firmly and neurotically tape EVERYTHING you don't want to paint with painter's tape. Part of what looks so nice in the finished project is the crispness of the contrast between the painted parts and the trim. (*A note: I thought I was doing a really good job taping, but still paint got underneath it and I don't know how to avoid that. It's totally ok--that's what the Q-tips are for.)

taking fountain los angeles DIY chalkboard refridgerator.jpg

3. Start painting! I did the sides first, then the front. It will be super streaky at first because painting metal isn't like painting wood, apparently. Don't worry, you're going to do a second coat and it will look great.

4. Wait for the first coat to dry, then do the second coat. If you're using a brush, try to brush in the same direction--if you get brush marks, it can look messier if they're going in all directions.

Click to enlarge!

5. Once everything is dry, CAREFULLY peel the tape off. You will see the areas where paint got on the trim, or where you didn't paint but wanted to. Break out the teeny-tiny paintbrush and Q-tips. Use the brush for detailed fill-in work, and wet some of the Q-tip heads to wipe paint off the trim, then go over the spots again with dry Q-tips.

5. Step back and admire your work!

I'M NOT KIDDING IT'S THAT EASY. I think I was done in three hours.

Pro-tip: If you're gonna do this project around lunchtime, get your lunch out of the fridge before you start. Otherwise, your lunch will be locked in the fridge until it's done because of all the tape and you'll get hangry and sad. Maybe that's why I got it done so fast.

Priming with white chalk.

Epilogue: You're supposed to let the paint "cure" for three days before using chalk on it, and the instructions then say you should "prime" it by rubbing white chalk over the whole thing and erasing it before using chalk on it regularly. I spot-tested in this little area, and it works fine but it does make the final paint finish a little...chalkier. So I decided to not chalk the front of my fridge at all, and keep my grocery list on the side of my fridge where I primed it. Whether you do the same is completely up to you--I just really like the color of the finished fridge and didn't want to mess with it.

Have something to add about the Chalkboard Refrigerator Project, or have another project idea you'd like us to check out? Leave a comment below!