Grace: transforming furniture with decoupage

set of drawers featuring a decoupage design of a woman looking out to sea, the colours move from blues at the bottom into cream at the top

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Looking ahead to our brand new Posh Chalk Deluxe Decoupage launch coming soon, I thought it was high time to create a project using the fantastic decoupage papers.

Drawing inspiration from Hope, another decoupage project I created some months ago,  I wanted a classy design that featured the decoupage front and centre. Like Hope‘s humble beginnings, these Stag drawers had sat in the workshop for quite some time until just the right project came along.

Grace was that project.

I started off in much the same way you would any furniture upcycling project, a light sand and a good clean. Properly preparing your furniture before getting to work will save a lot of hassle down the line.

Once it was ready to go I applied a cost of Dixie Belle’s BOSS, followed up by a coat of their Fluff, ensuring to cover the area where my decoupage would lay. BOSS is an order blocker and a primer, it’s perfect for those projects where you anticipate some bleeding.

I opted for the Fluff, as in most cases it’s important to lay your decoupage on a light surface. This helps the colours on the decoupage really stand out, you don’t want your design getting lost on top of darker colours.

A stag chest of drawers, the front has been painted white, whilst the side has been left as is. To the right there is a smiling woman in front of it in a stripy top, she has just painted the project.
Whilst the Fluff was drying I started work on the decoupage paper. The eye is naturally drawn to straight edges so we want to avoid them as much as possible, this means tearing the border off – it makes it much easier to blend out the colours and give the illusion that the decoupage has always been there.

For this project I was using the Blue Ponder Posh Chalk Decoupage in A1 size, all designs come in A1 and A3. As the paper was going to be the focal point it needed to be large enough not to get lost.

So, border torn off, it was on with the decoupage. To stick the decoupage down I first coated the surface in the Posh Chalk Infusor, a top coat sealer, then slowly applied the paper onto the surface, working from the top down. It’s important to do this one segment at a time to avoid getting too many creases.

As I was going along, I was brushing over the top with more of the infusor and really working it into the contours of the design with the brush. The Posh Chalk Deluxe Decoupage is rice paper and very strong, so once it’s saturated it can take a bit of abuse. There were quite large contours between the drawers on this piece of furniture so I was pleased when the paper really stretched to stick to every surface. No air pockets here!

A chest of drawers painted in white with a decoupage design of a girl looking over her shoulder stuck to the front
Depending on the project and the look you’re going for, you can frame the decoupage, have it covering a whole side or even blend the colours out to stretch the design around the sides of the piece of furniture you’re working on.
I was doing the latter.

This wasn’t going to be any normal sort of blending though, oh no, Grace deserved better than that. No, I wanted a textured project. For that, I was going to use a mix of Brown Dixie Mud and a whole collection of Posh Chalk Metallic Pastes.

I started off by trowling a little Dixie Mud on the bottom right, pulling out the rocks she was sat on. Brown Dixie Mud is a real earthy colour and was the perfect colour to continue the rocks.

Next up, I switched to the Posh Chalk pastes to continue the sky above her head, liberally applying the Green Bronze and the Pearl Gold colours. For the clouds above her head, I waited until my first coat had dried, it doesn’t take very long Posh Chalk Pastes to dry very quickly; once we were dried up a carefully smeared some White Titanium pastes in various places and just dragged it out a little creating a wispy cloud effect.

A close up of white clouds painted on a cream background a decoupage design of a lady can be seen at the right hand side
Violet and Rose Gold were up next, I wanted to create a sunset vista over the sea in the bottom left, again it was a case of trowling it on and smoothing over it with the trowel to create some rough texture. The Violet and Rose Gold gave way to Blue Prussian and Blue Fhthalo at the very bottom where the sea was.

Now, these colours were very vibrant and very metallic. It stuck out a bit and didn’t really go with the design. To tone it down a little and add some waves it was finger painting time! I dipped my fingers into the White Titanium and dotted them over the rather vibrant sea I created. I then spritzed it with a little water and blended it in just a touch.

This both toned down the vibrancy of the colours and gave the effect of waves. As Posh Chalk Pastes are water-based there’s no issue with thinning it out a little or using a spritzer to help the pastes move more easily on the surface.

the bottom corner of a chest of drawers covered in blue paste with white finger marks over the top. The a decoupage design featuring the feet a lady can be seen in the right
The sides. This is where I began to build up some real texture, I continued the colour scheme around the sides. I was going for a design whereby if you could unfold the drawers so they laid flat it would create one whole complete picture with the decoupage in the middle.

Texture was the aim of the game here though. I started off by once again liberally trowling on the paste, this time in a stipple motion, I wanted peaks – this was the first stage in my endeavour to create some real texture.

A close up of light gold paste stippled on the side of a piece of furniture
I let the paste dry off just a little bit before coming back in with a flexible scraper just to knock the peaks down a little bit. We really want to keep the contours. It takes a fair bit of practice and a light hand, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll never look back.

Don’t have a scraper or spreader – reach for a credit card!

Well, you could buy one with your card, yes, or use it in the same way as you would your spreader. It has the perfect amount of flexibility in it.

Where I only continued my colours on the side with the sea, on the rocky side I wanted something a little more…interesting. It was time to channel my inner Bob Ross and created a mountainscape.

Using the stipple and scrape method with the Mud and Pastes I created two peaks and then added a little Dark Green paste to act as foliage.

A woman painting with pastes on the side of a piece of furniture. She's creating an abstract mountain scene.
Onto the WoodUbend mouldings, this project wouldn’t be too heavy on the mouldings, I really wanted the decoupage to take centre stage, however, I had the perfect spot for three of them!

The bottom of the drawers was the perfect size for the 1269 pediment design, I knew adding these would really add that little je ne sais quoi to the whole project.

As always with WoodUbend, heat is your friend – if you’re a little unsure about how to use the mouldings, I wrote a handy, dandy, helpful guide a while back, give it a read here. There wouldn’t be much bending on this project, but it’s still important to heat the mouldings as neither the moulding or your substrate is likely to be completely flat; heat them up to really get that great seal onto your project.

So, mouldings heated I applied a good quality wood glue to the entire back of the moulding, this is important make sure you don’t just dab it on. When the glue was spread out I pushed it onto the bottom of the Stag chest, gave it another quick blast with the heat gun, et voila, mouldings on. This process was repeated on the opposite side as well as the front.

This decoupage delight was really beginning to come together now, I got reacquainted with my Blue Prussian Posh Chalk Paste and painted the whole bottom, mouldings et al, in the regal blue colour.

Hardware was up next, for this I mixed some of the Orange Gold and Copper Posh Chalk Pigments to create a bronze look and gave them one coat, that’s all you’ll need, just one coat. The wheels received the same treatment too.

Finally, a coat of No Pain Gel Stain in Espresso from Dixie Belle and she was finished! A daring decoupage design created using Dixie Belle, Posh Chalk and WoodUbend.

There’s a fantastic video of this project coming together, give it a watch to see it really come to life.