The design of antimicrobial surfaces as integral parts of advanced biomaterials is nowadays a high research priority, as the accumulation of microorganisms on surfaces inflicts substantial costs on the health and industry sectors. At present, there is a growing interest in designing functional materials from polymers abundant in nature, such as cellulose, that combine sustainability with outstanding mechanical properties and economic production. There is also the need to find suitable replacements for antimicrobial silver-based agents due to environmental toxicity and spread of resistance to metal antimicrobials. Herein we report the unprecedented decoration of cellulose nanofibril (CNF) films with dehydroabietylamine 1 (CNF-CMC-1), to give an innovative contact-active surface active against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria including the methicillin-resistant S. aureus MRSA14TK301, with low potential to spread resistance and good biocompatibility, all achieved with low surface coverage. CNF-CMC-1 was particularly effective against S. aureus ATCC12528, causing virtually complete reduction of the total cells from 10 5 colony forming units (CFU)/mL bacterial suspensions, after 24 h of contact. This gentle chemical modification of the surface of CNF fully retained the beneficial properties of the original film, including moisture buffering and strength, relevant in many potential applications. Our originally designed surface represents a new class of ecofriendly biomaterials that optimizes the performance of CNF by adding antimicrobial properties without the need for environmentally toxic silver.