Découpage: A Step by Step Guide

I have finally completed the second of this nest of tables using découpage.

Those of you who remember my first blog post might remember that I had a set of two pine tables, one of which I painted and stencilled for my first ever project using chalk paint!


Here's how it looked before.

Here’s how it looked before.

I also painted its bigger brother in Pure White, but it’s taken me a long time to decide how to finish it. I thought about adding another layer of paint in another colour, but the Pure White looks so fresh and clean and goes really nicely with our house. It was a bit plain, though, so I decided to conquer my fear of decoupage, and jazz it up with some pretty wrapping paper which I bought from my favourite Annie Sloan stockist, The Palace Darling in Chester.

Before setting to work on the table, I did quite a bit of practice on some odds and ends of wood which I had lying around, and scoured the internet for handy tips, too. I was really pleased with the result in the end, but it did take me far longer than it should have done! So I thought that I would spare my readers the trial and error and provide a handy step-by-step guide to decoupaging furniture. Enjoy!

Step 1: Ensure that your surface is clean and dry. If it’s a painted surface, it may be worth running a fine sandpaper across to ensure there are no tiny hard blobs of paint on the surface. Although they seem tiny, they can look huge when they’re poking through your carefully applied paper!

Step 2: Trim your paper to size. The paper I was using was the matt-finish wrapping paper that’s usually sold in individual sheets; it was great for decoupaging as it was quite strong but not so thick that it would later require endless layers of varnish to seal the edges! I found a craft knife better than scissors as it gives a smoother line. You can just rest the paper on top of an old magazine and score alongside a ruler (or freehand if you’re very neat!)


Step 3: Apply a thin layer of the decoupage glue/varnish to the surface of your wood in the approximate shape and size of the paper you will be applying. On this occasion I used Annie Sloan’s own decoupage glue/varnish which worked really well. I have also read online that some people substitute this for a homemade PVA glue/water mix, which would certainly be a little less costly, but I can’t vouch for its effectiveness. I’ll try this next time!


Step 4: Carefully lay the paper down. I really recommend borrowing a second pair of hands if your piece of paper is anything bigger than a few inches in size – it’s really tricky to lay it out evenly if you can’t reach all the corners. (Just make sure you ask a friend with steady hands!) Smooth the paper down gently, working from the centre outwards. Use something clean and dry, like a piece of kitchen roll – just in case there’s any glue or paint on your hands.


Step 5: Apply your first layer of varnish. Apply it evenly and thinly across the whole surface, making sure that none of the edges of your paper pieces are sticking up or fraying. The aim of decoupage is to apply as many layers of varnish as it takes until the paper is completely flush with the rest of the surface. The Annie Sloan flat brushes are great for this but wash them quickly afterwards.


Unexpected step 6: Abandon découpaging to comfort your boyfriend when it emerges that Liverpool are not going to win the Premier League this year.

Step 7: Return to découpage. Discover that not washing the découpage varnish/glue off your brush asap results in your brush turning into a rock-solid, rectangular block which is considerably less effective at spreading glue. Head to kitchen to wash. Inwardly curse Steven Gerrard for not scoring enough goals.

Step 8: Continue applying thin layers of the varnish, allowing each to dry before applying the next. You may need to apply up to ten layers depending on the surface and the thickness of the paper, so don’t be disheartened if your paper still feels chunky after a few layers!

And… you’re done! Beautiful!






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