Kitchen Counter Makeover Decoupage Recipe

This kitchen counter makeover was a must for 3 reasons: there’s no money in the budget for new counters, there’s nothing really wrong with the counters except I don’t like the way they look, they are in perfectly usable condition, and I detest taking perfectly useable things to our landfill site.

So after thinking about it for a while I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I could picture the end result in my head but I was having trouble finding what I needed to recreate that picture in real life.

Then John and I took a thrifting trip a few weeks ago and, lo and behold, he found exactly what I’d been looking for and he knew it before I did.

cookbooks for kitchen counter makeover

See that large Creative Cuisine book. John found it in a small town Salvation Army thrift store, and when he first showed it to me I said it wasn’t right because it wasn’t vintage enough. This edition is from 1985. I was specifically looking for vintage cookbooks with white pages, and I was having no luck at all.

(The other two books in this pic I’m keeping for actual cooking)


cookbooks for kitchen counter makeover

And John said, and I love him dearly for it, “But the recipe headings are red, and I think they’d go with the red in the kitchen”.

“Hmmm”, I said thinking about it. And very quickly his fabulous idea grew on me as I flipped through the pages. “Yay!” I said.  “Let this project finally begin!”

I was so excited!!! And I couldn’t wait to get started!

What a fabulous hubby I have, if I do say so myself.


cookbooks for kitchen counter makeover

That night while watching television I cut hundreds of recipes out of that book.

I divided the recipes by size and type such as baking and desserts, entrees, and soups and salads. I also had a pile of favourites, which would be used on top.


Decoupaged Kitchen Counter Makeover

decoupaging recipes on kitchen counter

And just like when I painted the kitchen cupboards I started with the small unit between the fridge and stove.

I applied some mod podge onto the counter, starting with the back.


decoupaging recipes on kitchen counter

Applied some mode podge to the back of the recipes.
decoupaging recipes on kitchen counter

Put the recipe  in place, folding down the sides or back or front (depending on what I was working on), and then applied some mod podge on top.


decoupaging recipes on kitchen counter

I did the outside edges first and then worked my way in.


decoupaged kitchen counter makeover

When the base was done I applied some of my favourite recipes on angles on top just to add some interest.

Looks pretty wrinkly right now, but most of the wrinkles disappeared as it dried. I did try to smooth out the recipes as best I could, as I put them down, with my fingers and with a brayer.


applying coat of mod podge on kitchen counter / thriftyrebelvintage.com

I did a coat of mod podge all over.


stays clear polyurethane for kitchen counter makeover

Stays Clear Polyurethane is what I usually use for these kinds of projects because it doesn’t yellow.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Here’s this little counter all done. You can see how the wrinkles have disappeared, most of them anyway. There are still a few, but after four coats of the Stays Clear you really don’t notice them at all.

But with 4 feline friends I can’t promise that there isn’t the odd cat hair in there though. lol. Saved for posterity.

Here are some pics of the other counter areas.


Kitchen Counter Makeover Before and After Pics

decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Here’s the large corner cupboard counter during the makeover.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And after. I should have counted the recipes that I used on this.

Just like on the little cupboard, I angled some favourite recipes on top for fun and if I ever want to make one of them the recipe is close at hand.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Like this Finnish pudding recipe that my mother used to make when I was growing up. I just might have to make it some day myself.


Rhubarb Mallow recipe on decoupaged kitchen counter

I had a reader ask me for the Rhubarb Mallow recipe that she could only see part of in the Raspberry Flummery recipe picture, so here it is. This picture was taken in October 2018, and I decoupaged my counters in February 2017 so I think they are holding up very well.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Here’s one side of the main counter before.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And the after, with the back splash painted white.

This is just the first stage of the back splash makeover, which I’ll be sharing later this week.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Here’s the counter before on the other side.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And here’s the after.

I’m particularly happy with how the sink area turned out.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

Here’s the counter before.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And the after.

We don’t have a dishwasher, and we do the dishes by hand, so I ran a very thin bead of clear silicone waterproof caulking all around the sink to protect my counter from any water splashes that might seep underneath the sink edges and into the paper that I slid under there.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

The before.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And the after.

To get the paper under the sides of the sink I slid a very thin knife in to make some room and slid the recipes under. It worked like a charm.

Please note: I’ve included affiliate links for products in this post. If you purchase products by clicking on one of the links I’ll receive a small commission of any sales, but it doesn’t cost you a penny more. This affiliate money helps to keep TRV going, and I thank you so much for your support. Read full disclosure here.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

So here’s the very green before of the small cupboard.


decoupaged recipes kitchen counter makeover

And the after with my newly decoupaged counter top.

I’m thrilled with how my kitchen counter makeover turned out, and I have my wonderful hubby to thank. πŸ™‚

The recipe book cost $4 and I had plenty to do all the counter tops, so this was a very inexpensive makeover. I already had the mod podge and the Stays Clear. The book might not have been vintage, but my counters definitely were, and they look so much better now.

It took about ten days to get all the counters done because I had to work in stages. The Stays Clear poly had to dry for 2 to 3 hours between each of the 4 coats, plus we had to be able to use the kitchen.

I have no idea how long these counters will last, but a bathroom counter that I painted  and polyurethaned about 10 years ago just started showing some wear recently. So I think this could work for quite some time. Of course, food should not be placed directly on these counters. Just like with any painted or poly’ed surface food safe dishes should always be used, and I also wouldn’t place hot pots and pans directly on the counters. I always use potholders or place mats.

So if you need new kitchen counters, but don’t have the budget to replace them consider giving them makeover. There are so many things you could cover them with. The possibilities are really endless, and you can save a ton of money.

UPDATE: You can now see my completed Under $100 Aqua and Red Kitchen Makeover.


Pin to your favorite board and share with your friends!How to decoupage kitchen counters with cookbook recipes for an inexpensive kitchen counter makeover

Thanks so much for reading, and until next time…

keep on keepin’ on!


I sometimes share my projects and posts at these fabulous parties listed here.


Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. That is absolutely amazing!! I love it! Good for hubby, for having a bit of your insight!!! Dona

    1. Thanks very much Dona! He’s a keeper for sure!

      1. Cathy waterstradt says:

        Tuula, I want to thank you for the great idea. I have a coffee/espresso area with the same counter top as the rest of my kitchen. I am going to try and find a book with all types of coffee/espresso recipes and try this. I think this is so awesome. I was going to do something like this for my bathroom floor but use the colorful funnies pages but everyone thought I was crazy. Smh. I so love this idea very much. Thank you again for sharing.

        1. You’re so welcome Cathy! I’m so happy that my counters have inspired you. I love your idea of the coffee/espresso recipes for your counter. I know it’ll be incredible when you’re done. I’m hoping to do a bathroom makeover this coming fall/winter and I do plan on decoupaging my existing floor, so for me that’s only crazy in a crazy awesome way. I won’t be using funnies, but I think that a fabulous idea. If it makes you smile it’s a winner! πŸ™‚

    2. Is the Stay Clear polyurethane safe to put food on?

      1. Hi Flora. For me no polyurethane is safe to put food on. I never put food on my old laminate counter tops either.

    3. What cleaner do you use on your countertops? I like Mr. Clean with Febreeze–do you have any insight as to what that would do to the polyurethane top coat?

      1. Hi Karen: The only thing I use is a wringed out damp cloth. That’s it. I have cleaned up small stains of chocolate ice cream, coffee, tea, spaghetti sauce, and others with just the damp cloth. It really doesn’t require anything else. I tend to wipe the counters every time I do the dishes too just to keep then clean. I don’t use the cleaners that you mention so I can’t be sure of their reaction with the poly. You may want to decoupage a little sample board and poly it too and then try the cleaners and see what happens. I know people poly their floors and then clean them, so it may be ok. I just can’t say for sure. I often do a small sample of a project before taking on the real thing if I’m unsure of the outcome. I hope that helps. πŸ™‚

        1. I have poly counters too and use a diluted mix of water and pine cleaner. works great if you need additional cleaning power. Two years and counters look great. once every 6 months or.so, I give them another coat of poly to smooth out any nicks etc.

          1. I’m glad to hear that your counters are lasting Becky. It gives me hope for mine. πŸ™‚

  2. I would expect nothing less from you Tuula, to come up with such a creative, unique solution to old countertops! It looks great and there is just enough red in there….smart man! Love the backsplash white. I am wondering what more you could do to make it more fabulous?!

    1. Thanks AnnMarie! I really had to find as low cost a solution as possible for the counters and decoupageing was it. The backsplash just needed a little extra something to make it fun. I hope you’ll agree when you see it.

  3. Gail @Purple Hues and Me says:

    Your countertops turned out marvelous! You continue to amaze me with your creativity!

    1. Thank you so much Gail!

  4. Truly Amazing Tuula! That should be your name! I really love it and hope it lasts for as long as you love it or decide to do something else with your kitchen…but I can’t imagine ever doing that! It’s a place I’d love being in, cooking in, baking in or just standing there admiring it!!!!
    Can’t wait for the backsplash!
    And thanks again for showing my gadget last week…I was able to actually make a daisy with it!

    1. Thanks so much Linda! I have to admit I find myself hanging out in the kitchen more just so I can look at them. Now that it’s done I can’t quite believe that I did it. lol. I was happy to share your mystery item and I’m so glad the mystery was solved by my readers. How fun that you’ve already made a daisy.

    1. Thanks very much Kris! I think I’m starting to see the finish line of this makeover. It might be a way in the distance still, but I can see it. πŸ™‚

  5. Wow – what a great idea. Is the poly waterproof or doesn’t it matter?

    1. Thanks Kim! Yes, the poly makes it waterproof. I did 4 coats just to make absolutely sure. Still, I wouldn’t go testing it by spilling a glass of water on purpose, but if it happened I’m pretty sure the counters would be fine. πŸ™‚

  6. Tuula, what a genius idea! I’m sure you know what a smart hubby you have who is on board with your project. Love the look of the counters now & can’t wait to see the backsplash makeover.

    1. Thanks Florence! My hubby doesn’t even look at me funny when I tell him my ideas. lol. I am definitely a lucky girl.

  7. What a great idea, Tuula! Your countertops look fabulous and so unique. Besides, when you don’t know what to cook, the inspiration is right there. The red recipe headings work really well. Your hubby is a keeper! πŸ™‚
    xo Julia

    1. Thanks very much Julia! My thoughts exactly about the recipes. A couple of the really visible ones are chocolate related. That was no accident. lol. My hubby is definitely a keeper.

  8. Tuula that really was using your head. Our counter tops are awful. We put down tiles many years ago and the tiles came up. I have them covered with cutting boards right now. We were in IKEA last year and found $90.00 butcher blocks on sale for $9.99 each. We bought three of them but they are still sitting against the wall waiting to be installed. We have to rip out the back splash which is also in terrible condition and install the tiles I bought at Habit two years ago. Unfortunately some health issues have arisen but I plan to get them done in the next few months. I will keep this idea in the back of my head if I ever have level counter tops.

    1. Thanks Patty! The decoupaging was an easy and inexpensive solution to my counter issues. It sounds like you’ve got everything in place to get yourself some new counter tops. I wish you the best of luck. πŸ™‚

  9. Stephanie C. says:

    What a great idea! The counters really work with the beautiful blue cabinets. I have boxes full of old recipe cards, maybe those could be used in a similar way.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! I don’t see any reason why recipe cards wouldn’t work just as well. πŸ™‚ You might want to test one of two with some Mod Podge on a space piece of wood to see if you like what they look like.

  10. That looks awesome tuula! I have to admit, I was skeptical when I saw that you were going to decoupage them but the result is fantastic! I could see this done in a vintage trailer too…so cute!


    1. Thanks Tania! I can certainly see that too. I actually think they turned out even better than I expected. I love it when that happens because it doesn’t happen all the time.

  11. OMG! It turned out amazing!! I love it. I’d copy you but with 3 disabled adult children still in the house they’re pretty hard on the, ie. not always putting down a cutting board before cutting πŸ™ plus I think I’m going to have to replace my sink pretty soon, it’s rusting around the drain pretty bad. I’m afraid leaks will be in my future. BUT you have given mean idea for my cupboards! About 8 yrs. ago I did a makeover to my kitchen cupboards – http://dragonflytreasure.blogspot.com/2009/11/kitchen-cabinet-project-is-done-met.html – while I still like them, I have an itch to rearrange/redecorate/redo my home. I think that comes from moving every few years while married to my ex who was in the military. Anyway my budget is nil, my sister is purging and just gave me 3 huge boxes of vintage and newer cookbooks for my garage sale this Spring! I just may have to do some cutting myself πŸ˜‰ Love your blog, but don’t always have time to comment. Keep it up!! β™₯β™₯

    1. Thanks Deb! I’m so glad you’re enjoying my blog. I just popped over and checked out your kitchen cabinet makeover and they turned out really amazing. πŸ™‚ Mod Podge is really a saviour sometimes.

  12. Tuula this is really impressive. It was a lot of work but so worth it in the end. I love using pages to cover things. I even covered my trunk a year ago and it has held up very well.

    1. Thanks so much Mary! I hope my counters hold up as well as your trunk. πŸ™‚

  13. Amazing. I’m wondering how long you’ve had them and how they are holding up.
    I am pinning this for sure!

    1. Thanks Sherry! This is a very recent project. I just finished the last coat of poly this past Saturday. I will have to supply an update a few months down the road, but with 2 coats of MP and 4 coats of poly I’m pretty confident they’ll last quite a while.

  14. You cracked me with the “cat hair preserved for posterity'”. LOL!

    Great idea. I’m glad to see Modge Podge resurface as such a versatile medium. You CAN USE IT FOR JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING. I had a friend 30 years ago use it on an old claw foot bathtub, the outside—and it was awesome. But, there wasn’t blogging then so you didn’t take pictures of your ‘cover-up a disaster’ project.

    Kudos for being so diligent with the sealer, because that Is the secret. I will be a doing a Barbie counter top in the near future,lol. Sandi

    1. You’re so right about the sealer. It is most definitely the key. Mod Podge is the perfect cure for many decor ailments. That tub sounds amazing!

    1. Thanks so much Zefi! I’ll be sure to do an update post in a couple of months.

    1. Thanks very much Cecilia! It definitely feels like me.

  15. Wow!!! If that holds up to kitchen ware and tear, then I give you the title of “Genius”. I absolutely love the look ! It’s very unique and adds so much charm. Plus you don’t need a contractor and a lot of money . Win-win, Great job!
    Connie πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks very much Connie! I hope after 2 coats of Mod Podge and 4 coats of poly that it will hold up well. Time will tell. πŸ™‚

  16. Oh my gosh that is so fantastic! I had thought about decoupaging a couple of my grandma’s hand written recipes on to my cabinet doors… think I’ll still have to try that πŸ™‚ We would love to have you at our To Grandma’s house we go link party – it starts every wednesday!

    1. Thank you so much Tarah! How wonderful that you have some of you grandma’s hand written recipes. They are treasures. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks very much Victoria! I appreciate you popping in and commenting. πŸ™‚

  17. This turned out really great! I have a weakness for using book pages alot and I even used the pages from an old Betty Crocker cookbook on the top of our kitchen island. We used the kind of two part resin used on bar tops and it has stood up really well. Your hubby’s idea of the red recipe titles is inspired! Now I’m blog snooping your great projects.

    1. Thanks Anne! Decoupaging is so much fun, and it allows us to have custom spaces unique to our home. Snoop away. lol.

  18. Jann Olson says:

    I decoupaged book pages inside of an armoire, but I never would have thought to do it on a kitchen counter. . .genius! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

    1. Thanks so much Jann! It’s amazing how easy it is to prettify almost anything with decoupage.

  19. Such an original and creative idea. Looks great with the new colors in your kitchen. Fabulous!

    1. Thanks very much Judy! It was a lot of work, but I’m really enjoying it.

  20. Love Love Love it. Just one question. Did you sand the countertops before applying the mod podge ? I know when you paint countertops you must sand the shine off first. I look forward to seeing how they hold up. Beautiful, creative job.

    1. Tuula McPhee says:

      Thanks very much Lynda! I didn’t have to sand or do any prep except giving them a good wipe to make sure they were clean. The Mod Podge is like a glue and the recipes stuck no problem. So far they are holding up great, but time will tell. The thing I love the most is that if I have a trouble spot I can easily fix it with left over recipes. Also, I’m on the lookout for another copy of that same cookbook just to have it as a back up. Not sure if I’ll need it, but you never know. I do plan on keeping my counters.

  21. Thank you so much for the idea!

  22. What a Perfectly Great makeover! I’m glad you found a not-really-vintage cookbook to use, some of us collectors might not have been able to finish reading, lol.
    I’ve done something similar on one small counter, with some of the ga-zillion pieces of oh-so-precious kids’ artwork. However I used one of the food-grade polyurethanes for the top coats, in case someone didn’t bother to grab a chopping mat first. (I have a stack of those multi-color, thin silicone ones.)

    Also, ;-), next to the raspberry flummery recipe (which lol I did copy off for future use too) I can see about 2/3 of a Rhubarb Mallow recipe. We love rhubarb here, have a swath of them in the garden, freezing lots of it for the rest of the year, & I collect and use as many different recipes as possible.

    So… Silly request, but reading what I could see, it’s a totally new recipe to me. I ran several online searches for it, and short of finding/buying the book, it’s not posted anywheres. So… Please… uAny chance for a full picture of it? I wouldn’t ask for you to type it out for me, and it’d also be another pix of your great counter to enjoy!

    Thank you for posting your clear and easy to follow tutorial, It may have inspired me to do another, lol….

    1. Thank so much RR! A kids’ artwork counter sounds amazing, and would be a very special keepsake. I’ll happily get it for you, but I’ll have to wait and get a pic in the daylight because the night time light in the kitchen is terrible for picture taking. I love that you’re not only asking me for a recipe from my counter. That is so hilarious and made my day. πŸ™‚

  23. Katie Fossee says:

    Great idea! I personally would have gone with more vintage style clippings and maybe some old hand written ones but still great idea!

    1. Thanks Katie! Your idea would be amazing too. For me, I didn’t want my counters to be too busy because there are a lot of other patterns in the kitchen. It’s really just all about doing what each of us loves.

  24. Patricia stein says:

    That is so perfect! what a great use for old recipes… I’d use copies of old family recipes with all the stains and such to show how much they were used and loved…

    1. Thanks Patricia! I love the idea of using old family recipes, although I might use photocopies and keep the originals. Just a thought. πŸ™‚

  25. How has it held up around the sink?

    1. Hi Donna. Considering it’s been almost 5 years I’m very happy with how it my counter held up. There has been some minor bleeding of ink around the sink where I guess some water managed to get in and wet the paper underneath. I don’t have a dishwasher so that explains that. I never expected my decoupaged counters to be a permanent thing, but since the rest of them have held up extremely well I’ll be doing some minor replacing around the sink at some point. But I’m not too worried about it. My counters still look 1000% better than my old counter, so I’m still super happy with it.