Back in 2001, just as Victor and I were wrapping up some big Projects on our Victorian and getting ready to move in, I decided that the Master Bedroom needed a fake fireplace.  After all, it backed up to one of our chimneys, it would look perfect!  A quick scouring of local antique stores turned up a wonderfully banged up fireplace in the perfect size for $95, so we grabbed it!  With no time for a sophisticated re-do, we went with the Universal #1 go-to frugal move and painted it a soft white.  For the first year, I loved it.  After that, every time I looked at it, I did a quiet, “meh”, and moved on, vowing to give it a more sophisticated makeover when time allowed.  Ideally, I wanted my $95 wooden fireplace to look like a gorgeous $15K Italian marble beauty.  Too much to ask?

Fast forward 17 years – in that time, I scoured over books and YouTube tutorials on painting something to look like marble, and felt almost confident enough to give it a try.  In a case of miraculous timing, a friend shared with me their kitchen makeover story, in which they transformed dull, outdated countertops with marbleized contact paper, and even their outdated dishwasher with a stainless steel looking contact paper.  It was frugal, it was gorgeous, and it was exactly the look I was going for.  I had to give it a try.

I rushed online for some tutorials – it certainly looked a lot easier than painting it myself.  I ordered some gorgeous brown and gold marbleized contact paper for less than $100, gave myself a self-proclaimed online degree in using the stuff while I waited for it to arrive, and dove in.  What a transformation!   Incredibly realistic, and such a huge improvement over the painted white – just wow!

Since then, I’m hearing from people who are using today’s high quality contact paper to transform everything from bedroom furniture to book binders, kitchen counters, end tables, picture frames, planters and countless other projects.  Want to give something a copper look?  How about transforming those perfectly performing-yet-outdated appliances into a lovely stainless steel? Marbleize some cardboard boxes for gorgeous storage in a guest room!  And last but not least, it works beautifully updating your Kindle/phone/iPad/electronics covers.

More ideas?  How about hitting your local Goodwill to transform some outdated lamps to look like they have a granite base? There’s a contact paper for that too!  I’ve even seen people who take various contact paper styles and turn them into personalized envelopes – beyond impressive.  One of the favorite marbleizing projects I’ve seen is a trash picked bedroom set that was utterly transformed into pure elegance with a coat of black paint, new brass pulls, and gorgeous marbleized tops, courtesy of incredibly inexpensive contact paper – I’m hooked!

If you have any furniture or rooms in your house that would benefit from that light touch of marbleized elegance, give today’s newest styles of contact paper a try!  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to research customizing my husband’s racing bike in faux granite to surprise him for his birthday.  He’ll like that, right?  Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, Columnist & Author of Brilliant Frugal Living.  “The Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on over 80 Stations Nationwide via the BizTalk Radio Network, find your local station at
She lives with her husband & kids in their fabulous fixer upper Victorian in Chester County, PA.  She is honored to be connected with the crew at the Detox Treatment Help Line (800-287-7891) and Elite Rehab (800-932-4082) to help get the word out about their proven strategies to steer the ones you love away from drug abuse. You can find her online at