Have you tried your hand at decoupaging yet? It’s really not that difficult and it’s an inexpensive way to add a gorgeous shabby chic finish to practically any piece of furniture. Decoupaging involves sticking a picture on to the furniture and then coating it with layers of varnish. The finished result can look so pretty it can be mistaken for a professional painting!
What you need for decoupage
You can buy pretty decoupage paper especially for this, but you don’t need it – the following will work just fine:
- Wrapping paper (ideal)
- Greetings cards
- Origami paper
My favourite way to decoupage is to use mod podge, because it both sticks the picture on and provides a protective coat afterwards (plus I’ve got plenty hanging around from other craft projects).
How to decoupage: step-by-step
The steps for decoupaging are pretty simple:
- Prepare your surface – sand if necessary, clean and dry.
- Paint on a base coat if you’re going to.
- Prepare your items to be decoupaged. If you’re using fabric, you’ll need to wash, dry and iron it. Other things won’t need any prep – just make sure they’re crease free.
- Cut the item out of any background.
- Paint a good layer of mod podge onto the surface and stick on your item. Make sure it’s nice and flat.
- Smooth it as much as you can and then leave it to dry for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add a protective layer of mod podge to the top.
- Mod podge isn’t completely waterproof so some items will need varnishing with a suitable matt varnish once they’re completely dry, depending on their intended use.
You can view these steps in pictures at ‘Mod Podge Rocks‘.
You can also watch this video which explains the basic process of decoupage using mod podge:
Below, I’ve found some lovely decoupage projects that I hope will inspire you to give this simple effective technique a go:
1. Shabby chic decoupage stool
This pretty painted stool has a decoupage seat which has had a crackle glaze applied over the top. You can further enhance the cracks once the glaze is dry by rubbing wax into them.
2. Shabby chic decoupage cupboard with drawer
This gorgeous old cabinet has a beautiful green finish, somewhere between mint and verdigris – and the delicate rose florals enhance the door and drawer fronts.
Here’s another slightly less shabby cabinet which uses decoupage prints for the cupboard panel and a lovely script paper on the side of the cabinet. I love the bold colour of the cabinet and the ‘aging’ effect has been done really well.
Here’s a yet another example of decoupaging cupboard panels on a pretty sink unit. In fact, this is a dolls house miniature I found on Etsy – but the idea would work brilliantly on full sized cabinets too!
3. Shabby chic drawer unit with decoupage top
I found this gorgeous chest of drawers on Rose and Lee Vintage Living (it sold for £160). The top was hand decoupaged with vintage french ‘Roses’ paper.You could easily recreate the look with an old piece of furniture from eBay and fabric would be a good way to cover a surface of this size – read my guide to buying old furniture and painting it shabby chic style – and be sure to buy some lovely new handles to complete the piece.
4. Decoupage glass bottles
These pretty glass bottles are incredibly simple to make and would lovely sitting near the window with the light filtering through. Image source: Blanchstyle
5. Shabby chic decoupage clothes hangers
These pretty painted coat hangers have sweet decoupage embellishments with flowers and patterns. There are quite a few tutorials on Youtube for making these. Image source: Folksy (these are currently sold out so you will have to make your own!)
6. Decoupage drawer fronts
Probably one of the simplest projects on this page – this old chest of drawers has had a fresh coat of paint and the drawer fronts have been embellished with a few shabby chic style flowers. Easy to do and a quick way to turn a boring old unit into something you’ll love to display in your home. Image source: These were for sale on Gumtree but the advert has now been removed.
7. Decoupage hearts
These gorgeous little hearts are perfect for adding a pretty decorative touch to any piece of furniture. Hang them across the back of a chair or along shelves, across a mirror or anywhere that needs brightening up. You can of course use little florals and vintage prints rather than the bright patterns shown in the tutorial. Source and instructions: Homemaker Magazine
8. Shabby chic decoupage bedside cabinet
This pretty dressing table is a fairly ambitious design for decoupage because of the way the pattern goes across the unit and drawers. I think that makes it even more special and it is very achievable if you take the time to carefully cut your print out into sections and ensure when you are applying them that they match up perfectly.
9. Shabby chic musical decoupage chair
This incredible chair was featured in a photo shoot on Wedding Chicks which is actually all about the flowers that are resting on the chair. The whole chair has been decoupaged with old music sheets for an absolutely amazing effect. I think I can see decoupaged floorboards in the background too!
10. Decoupage magazine rack
This pretty magazine rack (or is it a doll’s bed?) in soft lilac has some sweet flowers and scripts on the side. It has been ‘aged’ nicely too.
11. Old shabby chic decoupage door
I can’t tell if this old door has been painted and covered in pretty paper which has then been torn away – or whether it is a genuine old vintage piece. Either way, it is an incredible piece of art and I love the effect which could be achieved with a little time and effort. If you don’t see the point of standing an old door up in the corner of your room (it’s art, okay!) you could instead create a stunning storage unit from it:
Both of these images were found on Croquidesign.
12. Shabby chic decoupage table
This is a very simple decoupage project which looks absolutely fantastic. The old table has been painted a lovely matt mint green colour and then aged nicely after drying. Note how the aging is done exactly how it would wear in real life – including the centre of the table. The sweet floral decals have been applied afterwards to finish. Don’t forget that, for an item like this, you’ll need to varnish over the whole thing once the paint and mod podge is completely dry, to ensure it can stand up to its intended use. Even if you use it as a side table, you don’t want one misplaced coffee cup ruining all of your hard work.
13. Decoupage windows
These lovely window and door panels have had pretty floral paper or fabric applied. I thought the top left panel would make a stunning headboard for a single bed, hung just over the bed in the headboard area.
Of course, you could decoupage on actual windows – these birds are gorgeous and make a really pretty addition to a small old window.
14. Decoupage headboard
This very lovely headboard has old fashioned scripts decoupaged on. The combination with the vintage white and grey paints which have been gently distressed is really stunning. Check out the source website Design Decor which shows how it was done and also has a lovely makeover for a matching chest of drawers too.
15. Decoupage stairs
Personally I’m not a huge fan of the actual prints used on these stairs but I absolutely adore the idea! The stairs are an area of heavy use so you’d have to put down some really heavy duty varnish once you were finished with your design, to ensure they stood up to wear and tear.
16. Decoupage ceiling
This is an absolutely stunning idea for a shabby chic room. If you’re not feeling confident enough to take on a complex design like this, you could just decoupage the corners or around a ceiling rose.
17. Decoupage floorboards
I love the idea of these little florals being used across a whole room, with a different shabby chic colour for each board. You’ll need to give these the aged look first (don’t leave them to wear down by themselves) and then apply some heavy duty varnish. Otherwise they’ll just end up dirty and not very attractive at all.
18. Decoupage wall
This fantastic decoupage wall project is from The Snug where you can see loads more pictures and pretty ideas for this colour scheme.
19. Decoupage tiles
I love the idea of these decoupage tiles although I don’t think this is the best example of how it could be done – it looks a little mucky! Personally I’d use a matt floor varnish to seal the floor rather than gloss – the floor will be just as tough but it will have a much prettier finish.
20. Decoupage tree for a child’s room
This is an awesome idea for decorating a child’s room which you could adapt with a more grown up theme for your own room. Instructions and more pics on Mod Podge Rocks.
21. Pretty outdoor seats
These lovely fold up chairs painted in pretty pastel colours would be gorgeous in the garden but equally lovely in the kitchen or conservatory.
Other images: Header image credit – Decorattic. I was unable to find the proper source for the remaining images – please do get in touch if you are the original source and would like an image credit.
Feeling crafty? You might also like our 25 easy shabby chic DIY projects that cost next to nothing!