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I’m back to show you the updates I made to my kitchen. Remember the plans I shared with you?

Well, they have been implemented and I LOVE the results! Best of all, the materials I bought cost me under $25 and that included the white dish set. But, the cherry on top is that I can easily reverse the changes if we move (or get sick of the look.)

And now, I present to you:
Fabric Backed Open Shelving for the Kitchen

When we first met these sad cabinets, they were dark, dreary and had an eclectic collection of mugs:

Within only a few hours (minus drying times), I had a stylish new look that is bright and cheery!

Follow along for the tutorial and the 50 cent tour (please deposit your pocket change on the way out.) Just kidding. I’ll let you in for free.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1: Empty your cabinets.

Clean the insides with an all purpose kitchen cleaner.

Step 2. Starting from the bottom, remove the screws from the cabinet door hinges. The last screw should be the very top hinge (to keep the weight of the door from wrenching the screw out of the wood.)

Put screws into a ziplock bag and label your cabinet doors in order so that you can return them to the appropriate cabinet opening at a later date.

Now you should have a clean slate like this:

Step 3. If your cabinets are dark inside, you may or may not decide to paint the insides. (Be sure to check with your landlord if you are renting.) I chose to paint mine because the interiors were so dark. If you want to skip this step, fast forward to the next step.

Prime the insides by rolling on primer over the flat surfaces. Use a brush to get into the corners and crevices.

Once the primer has dried, get out the wood putty and putty knife.

Step 4. Using the putty knife, spread a small amount of putty over the holes where the hinges were. Push the putty into the holes, then scrape the excess off. Allow the putty to dry completely.

Step 5. Sand the puttied holes until smooth.

Step 6. Touch up the putty holes with paint or stain. Add caulk to any cracks or seams at the back of your cabinet. Allow the caulk to dry thoroughly.

If you are painting the inside of the cabinets, roll on paint with the small roller and use the brush to smooth out the paint and get into the grooves.

Step 7. Measure the dimensions of the back of your cabinets. Make sure your measurements are precise (measure twice, cut once is a good adage.)

Cut a piece of foam board using the measurements you just took.

Test fit the foam board into the back of the cabinet. If your cabinet’s face frame is smaller than the cabinet back, you will probably have to bend the foam board to get it in.

Step 8. Iron your fabric. Make sure to iron all the wrinkles out.

Cut the fabric 3 inches wider than the foam board. Lay the foam board on top of the fabric (wrong side facing up.)

Step 9. Tape the edges of the fabric onto the back of the foam board. Be sure to pull the fabric taut.

Fold the edges of the fabric as you would on a gift. Tape the ends to the back of the foam board.

Step 10. Insert the foam board into the cabinet.

Push the foam board firmly against the back of the cabinet. The tension of the fabric and the board against the edges of the cabinet should hold it in place, no need to tape or glue anything!

It is a good idea to try to line up your pattern if you have multiple shelves. (Do as I say, not as I do.)

Start putting your coordinated dishes back into the cabinet. Think about displaying them as you might see in a store.

For visual interest and extra storage, I hung some mugs from the top of the cabinet.

It was as simple as pre-drilling some holes and screwing in white cup hooks. (I did measure the same distance back from the face frame and spaced the hooks evenly. But, I’m a perfectionist like that.)

I am in love with my new kitchen! And all it took was less than $25 in supplies and a few hours.

What do you think?

The best part about this project is that I can easily remove the foam boards…

…or tape new fabric onto the back when I want to update the look!

Can you imagine a cheaper, easier or more glamorous update to your kitchen?

Are you an apartment dweller that is restricted from making permanent changes to your home? Or does your budget limit the renovations you’d really like to make? Why not make a few frugal changes that reflect your own style.

Apartment Guide has changes you can make that won’t break the bank:

Want to find even more design tips for your home? Apartment Guide has budget friendly ideas and DIY how-tos for people in any sized home on and

Disclosure Statement:

Apartment Guide and owner Consumer Source, Inc. partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in their monthly blogger program.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what project to create or what to purchase. Nor did they influence my opinions! We believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

122 replies
  1. ange
    ange says:

    What a great change, so bright and fun! It looks gorgeous! In my last house I used scrapbook paper for the backs of my cabinets but fabric seems to be a better fit. Thanks for inspiring!!!

  2. Christina
    Christina says:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial. I’ve had fabric stashed for about a year for the same project, but without the right steps to go ahead with it. I hadn’t thought of the foam core idea and I love it!

  3. Donald's Garden
    Donald's Garden says:

    PERFECT TIMING! I’m in the middle of a Kitchen re-decorate – and I decided, above the fridge, to remove the cabinet doors and turn the cupboard into my cookbook shelves. I couldn’t figure out what to do with the ugly wall behind the shelves. THIS IS PERFECT! I wanted something different and this is it! THANKS!

  4. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    thanks so much for sharing! I just love your kitchen. I’m redoing my in white with red so of course I fell in love with the fabric…I might just have to try this one 🙂

  5. Kas
    Kas says:

    Wow this looks great! Love the orange/white fabric and how it pops with the white cabinets. This gives me ideas for my kitchen. 😀 Thanks PHG!

  6. Jen
    Jen says:

    I LOVE this project!

    AND I noticed that you were using the awesome Tomboy Tools fractional tape measure!! Wooohooooo!!!

    The cabinets are lovely and what a perfect project for the antique glass and flatware collector. Wonderful idea and thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Danielle
    Danielle says:

    I just stumbled onto your site. This is a great tutorial and a great idea. But I wonder about using fabric in the kitchen. It will pick up smells and oils and moisture and may get stinky or germy over time. Did you buy or save extra fabric so you can replace it regularly as needed? I think in a dining room or display area, this would be fine, but inside the actual kitchen I’d be wary. I am pondering replacing the doors on my dish cabinet with glass-front ones, and I think I’ll steal your foam-core idea if I do, but I’d probably use contact paper or wrapping paper instead of fabric, since the cabinet is right next to the sink and pretty near the stove. But in the meantime, I’ll be adding your blog to my reader!

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:

      I think they’ll be fine. They aren’t near the stove and we don’t cook super greasy. They flank the sink, but water would have to try really hard to reach the back of the cabinets. Anyway, if they get messed up, it is only an excuse to replace with new pretty fabric 😉

  8. Alyssa
    Alyssa says:

    Wow I love that idea! So cheap too. I would have never thought to do that to the cupboards. My husband would absolutely love the idea of how reversible it is. Maybe i can talk him into re doing the cupboards now after two years of trying 🙂 Thanks for the great inspiration

  9. Leia
    Leia says:

    I did this today and love it!!! But I’m not having any luck finding the wine glass mounts. Where did you purchase yours?
    Leia_Barrett at yahoo dot com

  10. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    love this idea. we have redecorated our kitchen with a new counter and some new appliances but did not want to spend the money on new cabinets so my husband restained them and it looks good but I have cabinets with glass doors and they look so blah… so I’m going to give this a whirl. In fact, I took a few days off from work and you inspired me to do this as my next DIY project! thank you so much.

  11. Donna
    Donna says:

    I love your fabric choice! So bright and cheerful! I have started this project on the bookcases in my living room. I like the idea that it’s not permanent and can be changed out easily. Your photos and tutorial are great! Cheers and have a super day!

  12. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    I love this idea! Any ideas for doing this to a cabinet that is wider than foam board? Would you do two separate pieces and then tape them to the back of the cabinet or would you tape two pieces of foam board together and then cover in fabric? Thanks! 🙂

    • Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl)
      Brittany (aka Pretty Handy Girl) says:


      If I were to do that, I think I’d tape the two foam boards together first using strong packing tape. And then wrap them with fabric. Is your cabinet over 40″ wide? They sell foam board up to 4′ wide. Check with an art supply store or sign company.

  13. momstheword
    momstheword says:

    I loved this idea so much I pinned it last night. As of this morning 58 others have repinned it, so I’m thinking that everybody is just loving it! I especially like the idea that you can change out the fabric, or get another foam board and just change out the foam boards whenever you want.

  14. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    This is exactly what I was looking for! We don’t rent, but I wanted something cheap and a little less of a hassle than the crappy contact paper. This is perfect! Plus! I can change it for the seasons, my mood, or whatever without breaking my neck! Thank you so much!

  15. Pajama Mama
    Pajama Mama says:

    What a fantastic idea!!!! And I didn’t even know I was looking for this but it’s a perfect way to brighten up the back of my recently-inherited mahogany china cabinet, without painting…bc I will get in trouble with the in laws if I dare to paint it!! Thank you!!

  16. Sherie
    Sherie says:

    I am so glad I found this on Pinterest! I have been seeing pins about painting or using scrapbook paper or fabric to cover the inside (back) of bookshelves and I would love the look in my classroom, but the bookshelves belong to school and I can’t do anything permanent. This is the perfect solution and will work just as well on a bookshelf as your cabinets! I never would have thought of it! Thanks for the inspiration! 🙂

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    adidas shoes price says:

    I absolutely love your blog and find many of your post’s to be just what I’m looking for.

    Do you offer guest writers to write content available for
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  18. momstheword
    momstheword says:

    As said before I loved this and pinned it. Are you o.k. with it being pinned? I have a couple of other things I’d like to pin (like that DIY ladder). Do I need to ask you each time? Thanks!

  19. Connie@Connie Nikiforoff Designs
    [email protected] Nikiforoff Designs says:

    Great look! Even easier is to use scrapbook paper (or any paper that strikes your fancy) and use double-sided tape to attach to the cabinet wall. Using this method you can bring the paper around to the sides of the cabinet easily if you wish. I think using foam board is really nice though cuz it gives it more depth.

  20. Jenn
    Jenn says:

    where can I find the foam board? a craft store or a home improvement store? Thanks! I was just thinking about painting the interior of our shelves the other day, but since we are renting I’d rather not. This is a fantastic idea!

  21. TEMA
    TEMA says:

    Hi… Love your blog… saw the idea for changing your kitchen on Pinterest and just had to have a look. Your ‘new’ shelves are so beautiful. The wonderful fabric you chose is to die for and really lightens and brightens up the kitchen.
    Thanks for posting so many helpful hints…

  22. Juju
    Juju says:

    I think I might try this, but use my favorite contact paper to cover the foam boards.
    We are working on painting our kitchen cabinets right now!

  23. Bita Arabian
    Bita Arabian says:

    Love this project! The design and color of the fabric are really nice. I have 2 sets of cupboards (4 total) with glass doors – thinking of trying this. I have a question – With our particular cupboards I don’t think foam board and fabric will fit…the shelving goes right up to the cabinet door. Does that make sense? I’m thinking about trying it with scrapbook paper but I don’t think it will look quite as nice. Any tips???? thanks!!

  24. Robin
    Robin says:

    Great job! I love the red (going to do this in my kitchen also using red). You can also use the same idea for the backs of bookcases!!

  25. Robin
    Robin says:

    Great job. I’m going to do this in my kitchen & because I love red, will use that in my fabric. You can also use this idea on bookcases!!!

  26. Johnnie Tate
    Johnnie Tate says:

    THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH for this demo. I am renovating a 1940’s home, and will definitely be using this idea on the kitchen cabinets. What a Bang for your money and effort. I appreciate so much people like you who freely share your wonderful ideas.

  27. Max
    Max says:

    LOVE IT!! My kitchen is honey oak overload. This would help reduce some of it and for people who like to change things often this is GREAT!!

  28. T
    T says:

    Love the idea, but think 1/4 inch plywood would be better than foam board. I would roll clear drying glue on the board and tightly afix the fabric. Also would spray with a clear coat of polyurethane for easy cleaning. I live in the country with wood burning stove. Everything needs cleaning in the spring!

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      T, that’s your own call. The foam board worked perfect for us and allowed me to change out the fabric whenever I wanted. It also allowed me to be slightly off with my cutting because the foam can compress and hold in the space.

  29. retiredrailgirl
    retiredrailgirl says:

    I have used foam board to line the inside of a woven grass storage cube. I covered the foam board with self-adhesive shelf liner to give it some pizazz.

    Now, to the real reason for my comments. Our kitchen cabinets are cold in the winter. I’m fairly certain it is because they hang on the outside wall of the house. I was thinking about using foam board to line the inside of the cabinets. Maybe it would insulate the cabinets enough to eliminate the need to pre-warm our plates before serving dinner. Did you experience any difference in the cabinet warmth after your project?

    • Brittany Bailey
      Brittany Bailey says:

      Our walls were fairly well insulated and we live in the South (not too cold outside.) So, I didn’t notice. But, if you want to try this, use rigid foam insulation from the home improvement store as the thin foam board doesn’t have much of an R value.

  30. Shaquan T BUFFALOE
    Shaquan T BUFFALOE says:

    I do not know what I am going to do with you! This is one of the most clever things I have picked up from Pinterest! Thank-you Thank-you Thank-you for sharing! I am looking to glam up a built in china closet for our new house and was toying with using wall paper as a backing but has trouble finding a pattern that I liked (and that fit into my budget). This is absolutely perfect and because of the low cost of the foam board and fabric, I can change out the style when ever I want! You Rock!


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] diy open kitchen cabinets – Source […]

  2. […] the look of the whole kitchen.  {Create Open Shelving} I love how Brittany, from the blog Pretty Handy Girl added a touch of color to her shelves! She lined her cabinets with fabric covered foam. This […]

  3. […] the look of the whole kitchen.  {Create Open Shelving} I love how Brittany, from the blog Pretty Handy Girl added a touch of color to her shelves! She lined her cabinets with fabric covered foam. This […]

  4. […] Fabric Backed Open Kitchen Cabinets by Pretty Handy Girl- Brittany is a genius!  She backed two of her cabinets with fabric, which makes a huge impact and cost her only $25 in supplies and took a few hours to complete.  So clever!  Head to her blog to see the full tutorial. […]

  5. […] Fabric Backed Open Kitchen Cabinets by Pretty Handy Girl- Brittany is a genius!  She backed two of her cabinets with fabric, which makes a huge impact and cost her only $25 in supplies and took a few hours to complete.  So clever!  Head to her blog to see the full tutorial. […]

  6. […] books. To learn more about how to make fabric and paper-backed cabinets, check out these tips at Pretty Handy Girl […]

  7. […] Add some patterned wallpaper or high quality gift-wrap to the back of your bookcase to create an eye-catching display case for small artwork and books. To learn more about how to make fabric and paper-backed cabinets, check out these tips at Pretty Handy Girl. […]

  8. […] Mini Kitchen Makeover with Fabric-Backed Open Cabinets […]

  9. […] can match them to the outside of your cabinets, paint the inside a happy, vibrant color, or even line the inside backs with a fun fabric to complement your […]

  10. […] To make this super easy, you actually cover pieces of foam board along with the fabric, After that place that in the spine of your cabinets. See the complete tutorial here. […]

  11. […] Fabric-Backed Open Cabinets via PrettyHandyGirl […]

  12. […] Fabric backed open kitchen cabinets – diy on a dime the […]

  13. […] the other hand, maybe you want to do away with cabinet doors altogether and embrace open shelving. Pretty Handy Girl has a pretty handy guide on how to accomplish this chic […]

  14. […] in great shape) but I wasn’t sure how to do this until I saw an easy tutorial on pretty handy girl. I mean so easy!!! It’s amazing how a coat of paint or some fabric can completely transform […]

  15. […] Cabinet with fabric backing via Brittany Bailey […]

  16. […] Lockwood Bookcase shown above. Paint too much of a color commitment for you? Check out this DIY that involves placing removable, fabric covered pieces of foam board in the back of your […]

  17. […] Tạo một bức tranh hiển thị hoa văn và màu sắc bằng cách lót vải ở mặt trong của tủ. Một lựa chọn hoàn hảo cho tủ mở. Xem hướng dẫn đầy đủ tại Pretty Handy Girl. […]

  18. […] out, adding an element of surprise, as shown in the image below. Check out a full tutorial at Pretty Handy Girl. Kitchen cabinets with a fabric […]

  19. […] on the back that would make the cabinet pop.  I saw this tutorial over on Pretty Handy Girl on how to add fabric to the back of cabinets and knew that was my solution.  Brittany’s tutorial is super easy to follow and best of […]

  20. […] image 1 found here. image 2 here via here. image 3 here via […]

  21. […] All you need to do is take measurements of each individual counter and cut cardboards of the exact size. Now glue fabric on it and simply press it back. It doesn’t need gluing. Here is where I found my inspiration:… […]

  22. […] a little different and a little “me”. I read a post on Pretty Handy Girl about using fabric as a back in open cabinets. The post came at the perfect time. I used fabric covered foam board in the back of this cabinet. […]

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