I’m having so much fun in my Frame and Frills shop redoing pieces of furniture! The change from before to after can be pretty drastic… like this tall chest of drawers that received an old world finish decoupage treatment!
Some furniture flip projects are for demos for the DIY workshop classes I offer, (both in-person and online, that way you can take advantage of joining a fun DIY workshop, even if you’re not here in person! HERE are the current workshops being offered.) and some projects are for my own personal use.
This particular project is for myself.
I’m sharing a tutorial in case you want to create an old world finish decoupage treatment to something that needs transforming too!
The before of this tall set of drawers show the totally dull and boring look of this handy storage piece. I found on Facebook Marketplace for $15 or $20. Perfect price for what it was and in the condition it was in. To invest time into it, it needs to be reasonably priced, but have some solid construction. This fit the bill!
There will be a shopping list with links for all the products I used for this DIY project. I used Mint Decoupage, RDS Stencils and Fusion Mineral Paint products… I love them and I sell them in the Frame and Frills shop and online!
First thing I did was take it apart and wash the entire piece inside and out.
I love using Fusion TSP Alternative to clean every piece of furniture before I paint it. It cleans super well, no scents, no phosphate and doesn’t need to be rinsed afterward. (many cleaners must be thoroughly rinsed off or they will mess up the adhesion of the paint!)
About half the drawers needed the bottoms reattached.
I ‘painted’ wood glue into the crack between the bottom and back of the drawer.
To further secure it, I used carpet tacks. They are super sharp and have good sized flat heads to help hold that MDF bottom in place.
I wanted to give the inside of the drawers a fresh finish, so the small microfiber roller did the job quickly. Just a quick coat of paint in the corners with a brush first, then rolled the rest. The paint color for the inside of the drawers I chose was ‘Soapstone’.
Between the quality roller and quality paint, only 1 coat was needed! Fusion Mineral Paint doesn’t need a primer and has a built in topcoat.
Time to apply the decoupage!
I put a brand new fresh blade in my razor knife. Very important that it’s totally brand new. This decoupage paper is tissue paper, a heavier duty tissue paper, but still… A nice sharp blade will cut through it better. (Figuring out how to change the blade in this dumb knife was the hardest part! I finally had to look it up on YouTube… So funny, many others commented their frustration with the same thing!)
Each print of the Mint decoupage papers come in 2 different sizes, for this tall chest of drawers, I used the large version. There were a couple parts of the print on the bottom I cut off with scissors.
My plan for this old world finish decoupage was to apply it the drawers while they were in place in the dresser.
I figured that way the print would stay properly lined up. Then I’d slice the paper between the drawers and finish each drawer separately.
Starting with the first drawer the paper would be applied to, I spread the Fusion decoupage gel on, being sure to cover the front of the drawer, not missing any parts, but also not getting it over the edge onto the dresser. If my brush touched that part, I wiped it off with a rag right away.
I wouldn’t recommend doing an area larger than this at a time. Once the paper gets wet from the decoupage gel, it starts to wrinkle and soften. To work a smaller area at a time is best.
For this old world finish decoupage treatment, I wanted extra wrinkles, wrinkles will happen regardless, (just ask my face… and neck… and…!) but for the aged look on this dresser, even more than normal wrinkles were A-OK. One thing I didn’t want were air bubbles. Air bubbles mean the paper isn’t glued down to the surface of the furniture. To work them out, I like to use a wad of Cling Wrap, it slides across the paper smoother than my hands, and there is less chance of ripping the paper as you carefully move the air bubble out. Another reason to work a small area at a time. To try to work an air bubble out, slowly sliding it over until it gets to the unglued part is obviously more difficult the larger the area is.
One note here… typically I recommend to paint the surface of the furniture a white color so that the colors of the paper pop. (the paper is slightly translucent and what is under it will slightly show through) But for this old world finish decoupage treatment, the darker grey color was perfect.
Moving on to the next drawer, I held the paper up with one hand and painted the next drawer with the decoupage gel.
As I went down to the following drawer, the wrinkles in-between the drawers are obvious and not super attractive.
Every project has an ‘ugly duckling’ stage… this was it for this project!
The new blade sliced through the paper between the drawers great because that in-between the drawers paper was not at all wet from the gel. So because it was dry, I could cut it this way without it tearing… and because of that new blade I struggled to get in it.
After each drawer was cut free from the others, a little more gel was added to the edges of the drawers to wrap the paper slightly around the front.
After the paper was totally 100% dry, (best to leave it overnight to be sure) I sanded the edge of the drawer fronts, holding the sand paper at a 45 degree angle from the edge. This sanded through the paper and the extra paper not glued down over the edge just fell off. It’s a slick and easy way to ‘trim’ the paper to the exact size.
Next is the blending part.
This will make those florals fit in and make it look like the whole front of the dresser is painted.
I have found the best way to color match is to paint a small part right next to the decoupage paper… and be sure to let it dry before deciding what needs to be added to it to match the paper. As the paint dries it will change color, sometimes slightly, sometimes more significantly.
After I got my paint mix tone how I liked it, (2 parts Chocolate, 2 parts Coal Black and 1 part Cranberry) to blend it into the decoupage paper, instead of just painting it on, I used more of a dappling technique. This blends better into the paper, so there isn’t a defined border between paper and paint.
The rest of the parts of the dresser and drawers were painted in that same custom color.
Secret pizzazz time!
The sides of the drawers were plain and boring, so I decided to add a bit of stencil detail to them.
The large stencil brush worked great for this allover design. I dipped the end of the bristles in the paint, scraped it off on the edge of the jar and then, in a circular motion on a folded paper towel, removed the remaining paint, or so it seemed. This stencil treatment is a very dry brush technique. Barely any paint is on the brush and yet…
After the stencil is lifted there is a wonderful soft faded pattern left.
For the outside of the dresser I used this same stencil in random places on the front and top of the dresser. I didn’t really cover the actual florals but the edges and on the wood. The dark Midnight Blue stenciled pattern was a lovely subtle detail on the dark background.
One more distressing treatment for this old world finish.
The front of the dresser received a wet sanding treatment. The ‘wet’ part of the wet sanding, just means that there is something used between the sandpaper and the thing getting sanded. Sometimes that can be just water… but that doesn’t work for decoupage… instead for decoupage, wax works beautifully!
Using the wax brush, in a circular motion, I applied wax to the front of the dresser.
Then with the fine side of the sanding block, I lightly sanded the entire front. This is where the wrinkles of the decoupage paper come in handy. After sanding the front, where there were wrinkles, the ever so slightly raised part of the wrinkle
Because both the drawer sides and the frame/runners of the dresser were painted, to make the drawers slide in and out super smooth, clear wax brushed and buffed on the sides and bottom runners of the drawers did the trick.
With the final touch of some simple vintage glass knobs, the finished piece bears little resemblance to the before version.
The secret drawer detail is a fun treat just for the user of the drawer.
Adding a subtle tone on tone stencil treatment to the other parts of the front and top of the dresser that didn’t get the decoupage paper, unify the entire piece to complete this old world finish decoupage treatment.
So, how about you? Do you have something that needs a transformation? Here is the shopping list:
- TSP Alternative, (for cleaning before painting)
- Microfiber Roller, Tray and Sander Kit
- Fusion Mineral Paint, (colors used for this project: Soapstone, Chocolate, Coal Black, Cranberry and Midnight Blue)
- Staalmeester 2″ Flat Brush, for painting the main body
- Mint Decoupage Paper
- Fusion Decoupage Gel
- Fusion Ageing Wax for front and Clear Wax for drawer sides.
- Natural Round Brush for wax
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