Decoupaging a piece of furniture can transform it. We have done our house up on budget, and much of our furniture has been bought very cheaply or been given to us. This has not been a problem though, as it has given me 'permission' to change this furniture to suit our tastes and the room in which they sit using the technique of decoupage. Decoupage is simply the technique of gluing paper onto an object and then varnishing it. I'm going to give you my top ten decoupage tips and along the way, showing you how I upcycled this old chest of drawers below with my woodpecker and orange rowan berries design.
1. My first rule is to decoupage a piece of furniture that can only be improved with a lick of paint and some decorative paper. I like to choose pieces which are free, cheap or very old, but importantly, the furniture is solidly constructed and worth upcycling. Make sure the piece of furniture is thoroughly clean, free of any dirt or grease.
2. Choose paper which will not leach colour or disintegrate in any way when you apply glue or varnish it - it is probably worth conducting a patch test to check. I used my woodpeckers with orange rowan berries design as gift wrap from Spoonflower.
3. Prepare your surfaces accordingly. In this case, for example, the chest is wooden with painted veneer which has been varnished. I gave it a good sand, cut out the bubbled veneer and filled it, and painted the surfaces with 2 coats of primer.
4. Paint your piece of furniture in a neutral colour which ties in with the colour of the paper you intend to decorate it with, and which allows your paper to be the main feature. Consider how the surfaces are going to be used, and which should be papered or painted - I painted the top for example, as I knew the surface was going to be obscured, so it was not appropriate to paper it.
5. Cut your paper carefully, giving consideration to the layout and preseving the key motifs. As you can see, I cut the 3 panels of my chest of drawers so that the woodpeckers did not have their heads chopped off, and the three panels link up. I messed up cutting the side panels - as you can see, I chopped the 2 woodpeckers heads off. Very frustrating! I would say cutting the paper is one of the most important tasks, so do it when you're fresh and on the ball! I cut the paper ever so slightly smaller than the area it is to be pasted into, so it is easier to match it up.
6. Work quickly when gluing your paper. Personally, I glue my paper first, taking the glue right up to the edges. I then also put a thin layer of glue all over the area I'm going to be sticking the paper to.
7. Air bubbles are the enemy! If you have cut your paper correctly, you should be able to line it up with one corner, then smooth it out into place. Rub the surface with a soft cloth from the centre out to the edges to ensure there are no air bubbles. Do this as soon as you've glued on your paper.
8. Seal everything with a least two coats of varnish. Initially, I seal the paper parts with a layer of Mod Podge. I then varnish everything twice. I have learnt that it's essential to use a good brush which does not shed hair and to make sure you keep the area pet hair free!
9. Use handles as accessories to reflect the look you're aiming for. I wanted my woodpecker chest to look quite classy, so I bought 6 of these beautiful glass handles.
10. Display your piece in an interior which allows your piece of furniture to be the focus. For me, this means plain walls with only a few ornaments which co-ordinate with colours of the furniture. If you would like to download these tips as a tutorial, you can do so for free here!