DIY Chalkboard Refrigerator

Meet My New Favorite Piece of Furniture:

My refrigerator.

I guess it’s technically My New Favorite Appliance, but let’s not nitpick, hey?

L: Pre-Jordan Intervention  R: Post-Jordan Intervention

Seriously, IloveitIloveit. It’s just too much fun. I’ve designated the front of the refrigerator for menus (great for dinner parties, since our dining room table is right next to it) and…I don’t know, artistic moments and such. The left side is for cooking notes, since it’s right next to the stove, and the right side, which is sort of hidden from view, is for grocery lists.


It’s easy.

And cheap.

And everyone who comes over will be jealous and want to do it to their own refrigerator (speaking from about two weeks’ experience here).

OK. So here’s what you do.

First, buy some chalkboard paint. Lots of hardware stores sell the black stuff, but I had some trouble finding Schoolhouse Green, so I went to Home Depot and had it custom-mixed. Total cost: $16.

Next step: remove the handles. I decided to leave them off for a cleaner look (I screwed the bolts back in so there weren’t any ugly holes), but you can replace them afterwards if you like.

You should really clean and sand your refrigerator before you get going, so that you start with a nice, even (and non-greasy) surface. Lay down some newspaper before starting this step, as sanding can get messy depending on how enthusiastic you are.

Now, tape off any areas that you don’t want to turn green (the insides of the doors, the hinges, etc), and get to painting (start at the top and work your way down for best results).

This is after one coat. I let it dry for a couple of hours and put on a second coat, and then let it dry overnight and applied a third coat in the morning.

This is after three coats.

I ended up doing a few more touchups (not a full coat) after this picture was taken because the flash showed me that there was some unevenness down towards the bottom. So seriously: if you have low-ish light in your apartment, try taking a flash shot: it’ll show you any imperfections in the finish.

You should definitely let it dry for at least 24-48 hours before trying to use chalk on it, and some recommend “priming” it by running a piece of chalk all over, letting it sit for a bit, and then wiping it clean. I skipped this last step, and it seems to work just fine.



  • shana

    Very cool. I’m here to ask probably the #1 question: As a renter, did you have to get permission?

    • Anonymous

      nope – the person who rented the apartment before us owned it, and left behind the refrigerator, along with a few other pieces of furniture. but yes, it’s definitely important to ask your landlord!
      in our case, though, we’ve made a number of changes to our apartment (wallpaper, paint, etc) that are improvements in my opinion, but that also probably guarantee we won’t be seeing our deposit again.

  • I was going to ask the same thing as Shana. I’ve been curious about using chalkboard paint for a while on my kitchen cabinets to do the same sort of a thing but wasn’t looking forward to sanding and repainting.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, that’d be a pain – but i think making improvements even to rentals is always nice, if you’re planning on staying awhile. more on that here:

    • Sara

      In college (when I was renting and couldn’t do any fun, permanent improvements), my roomates and I painted chalkboard paint onto clear contact paper and stuck it on our cabinet doors for the same effect. We we moved, it peeled off no problem.

      This is a great before and after Jordan, nice work!

    • Anonymous

      check out Jane’s comment above and my mom’s advice for renters…
      you may want to consider the peel-and-stick versions a couple of readers have suggested – they sound like a perfect solution!

  • I love it!!!!! Fantastic Idea! I want one now!

    • Anonymous

      you should totally do it! i LOVE it.

  • Anonymous

    Question – what is the surface of your refrigerator? Ours is one of those newer models that has plastic-y surface and I don’t know how well it would hold that kind of paint. But its magnetic so it must be metal….actually now that I think about it, how does that even work. Also – how do you sand a refrigerator? Aren’t they usually metal? I never knew there were so many mysteries about the fridge! It looks super cute though and I want.

    • Anonymous

      hmm…it’s metal but with a plastic-y surface coating…sanding worked, but it took a little elbow grease (and honestly, we didn’t do that much of it). it’s definitely holding the paint well.

  • ohmygosh i LOVE this idea. i’ll be linking from my blog. thanks for sharing your creativity 🙂

    • Anonymous

      thank YOU!

  • raiiin

    oooh! i have the peel and stick version (this one– ) on my fridge! i love that yours is all over but i’m def not that motivated to tackle on that project.

    • Anonymous

      oh, it’s easy, i swear. but that peel-and-stick version is great for something less permanent.

  • Jane

    Hi Jordan-

    I think this is cute idea, but I would like to make a few points for readers thinking about going forward with this project (speaking as the wife of a lawyer and a new property owner contemplating the thought about renting out my place in the future):

    Making “improvements” to your apartment is something you should never do without explicit approval from your landlord. Forfeiting your security deposit does not give you carte blanche to alter your surroundings; the security deposit is meant to cover damage above and beyond regular wear and tear, but not meant to cover drastic overhauls to your surroundings. Dramatic changes, like changing out/painting cupboards or painting a major appliance, could easily cost the landlord above and beyond your initial security deposit to replace or fix. In that case, he/she could very well demand that you reimburse him/her for the difference between your security deposit and the cost of renovation – and, if you don’t comply, he/she is likely to bring a lawsuit.

    Not trying to be a debbie-downer here, I just want your readers to be well informed before they go ahead on their own DIYing!

    • Anonymous

      Great advice, thank you! For us, fortunately our landlords are very cool and know that we’ve made changes to the apartment and haven’t minded. I’m crossing my fingers that the next tenant will be a fan of wallpaper – otherwise I suspect we’ll probably have to strip and re-paint to avoid a fee.

      My mom (who’s a real estate lawyer) wanted me to mention the following: “If you live in a rental apartment you definitely need to get permission from the landlord in writing before making any changes to the apartment. This includes painting (a color other than what is already on the walls) and wallpaper. If you do this without permission, you will definitely lose your deposit and may even be liable for additional costs incurred in putting the apartment back to the way it was unless you repaint exactly like it was before you move. If you want to do something more major, like replacing kitchen cabinets or appliances, you need the landlord’s permission. Most landlords will give permission for improvements to the apartment. However, if you do not get permission, the landlord could use this as an excuse to evict you for a material violation of your lease. For example, if cabinets are replaced and the old ones thrown away, the apartment cannot be restored and the violation cannot be cured so it is grounds for eviction.” Thanks, Mom!

  • Julia

    Quick question. As someone who cringes at even the thought of fingernails on a chalkboard, does this painted version cause the same fingernails-on-a-chalkboard *cringe* reaction?

    • Anonymous

      ha. let me check…


      • Julia

        Haha – okay then. Probably not for me. But it looks way cool!

  • Anonymous

    What a smart idea!!! (and thank you!)

  • I LOVE this! I’m certain we wouldn’t get our deposit back if we painted the fridge, but I’m wondering if we can do a wall in our kitchen without repercussion — it’d be way fun. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      try the peel-and-stick versions recommended by some other readers, maybe?

  • Singingdixie

    is your fridge still magnetic? I saw on another blog that she had to use magnetic primer to keep the fridge magnetic underneath all the coats of chalkboard paint. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      yup! maybe a tiiiiiny bit less so – i noticed that one of my magnets keeps falling off.

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  • toyfated

    I want a new refrigerator for my home kitchen and this refrigerator design and also that color looking very nice. I am so feel a glad for that and I purchase that type refrigerator.

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  • I’ve had a chalkboard fridge for years and LOVE it. We’ve played hangman while cooking with the kids; we’ve figured out math and words.

    Most recently, we drew the bottom half of a woman in a dress on the bottom part. It was so funny when my husband was getting something and it looked like he had a dress on =).

  • I used the magnetic primer before just painting it, that costs 18$ at Menards and then the paint was $11 and $10 for the supplies, just got done doing mine tonight in black, it looks awesome

    • jordanreid

      Great idea!

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