Revitalising a 30’s Art Deco Bureau by SollyJo

Art Nouveau bureau finished project

Table of Contents

Welcome to the exciting makeover of Janet’s Art Deco bureau!

The history behind the Art Deco bureau

Picture this: my lovely neighbour Janet, amidst a massive home makeover, entrusted me with possibly the oldest piece of furniture in her home – a stunning Art Deco bureau with a rich family history spanning nearly 80 years.

It’s a piece that has witnessed generations, yet had been relegated to a forgotten corner until now. With its old French polishing showing signs of wear and tear, Janet sought a whole new look for this cherished heirloom.

Step 1: The prep

After loading it onto Theo’s van and bringing it down to WoodUbend HQ’s workshop, it was clear that a complete strip-down was in order. Carefully sanding away the old polish revealed parched wood yearning for rejuvenation. I started off with grit 120, (if I had used anything coarser, it may have damaged the wood grain), and finished it off with 240.

Art Deco Bureau sanded

After some brainstorming sessions with Janet, we crafted a plan that combined her desire to showcase the raw wood with elements of decoupage, raised stencilling, and a touch of bling – a perfect blend of tradition and modern flair. With a vision in hand, it was time to bring this timeless piece back to life.

Our adventure to spruce up Janet’s cherished Art Deco bureau started with some essential prep work. Firstly, I had to mask out the small glass panels on the bureau’s doors to protect them from paint spatters. This took almost an hour as the top sections of the trim were curved, so the duct tape had to go on in small sections.

Step 2: Prepping for the decoupage application

Then, it was onto painting the middle panel door in a fresh coat of white paint called Cotton by Magic Paint. This step was crucial as it would provide a bright surface for the decoupage to be layered onto. The decoupage is slightly see-through, so it adopts the background colours that it’s laid onto.

Janet had decided on the Posh Chalk Decoupage rice paper “ A Woman’s Harvest”, in the A1 size which displays female elements and patterns of the Art Nouveau era. I absolutely love this design, and you get three images in one!  

Step 3: The raised stencilling

Whilst the paint was drying, I started the raised stencilling on the drop down leaf. Janet had chosen the Posh Chalk ‘Art Deco Fan’ Stencil. I applied spray mount glue to the stencil, I let it tack up, then set the stencil on the surface and pressed it down firmly. It’s always good to make sure your stencil is nice and sturdy before you start applying heavy media such as paste. 

Extra Flexible paste application

Once in place, I grabbed my Posh Chalk Extra Flexible Paste and trowelled it on with the Petit Posh Chalk Finishing Trowel, a handy tool with a flexible blade made of durable stainless steel. Its blade is very flexible which is so handy when stencilling and the trowel’s tip is great for getting into corners with. 

Geowave stencil reveal

With precision and care, I spread the paste evenly onto the stencil. After swiftly wiping down my trowel (remember, it’s best to clean your tools right away to avoid a sticky mess later on), I peeled back the stencil to reveal the intricate pattern beneath. I almost wanted to leave it as it was, it was so pretty!

The trowel and stencil were washed straight away. I’m a big believer in washing my tools whilst the medium I am using is still wet, it is so much easier to clean them as opposed to tackling dried up paint and pastes. It takes so much longer and harsh cleaning methods can damage some utensils.

Step 4: Applying paint

With the preparation work completed, it was time to add some colour to the Art Deco bureau. Janet had chosen a stunning muted green shade called Olivia by Magic Paint. Keeping in mind that we wanted to preserve some of the natural wood, I carefully painted half the perimeter of the panels to see what it would look like. I loved it! I couldn’t wait to get the decoupage on the surface to see how it would match up.

Sep 5: The decoupage application

Posh Chalk Infusor application

Meanwhile, the white paint on the front panel had dried completely. I grabbed my trusty Posh Chalk Infusor and applied a thin layer to the entire surface. This would act as the adhesive for the decoupage. The Infusor is a multi use product.

Smooth & Blend BrushUsing a dry Posh Chalk Smooth and Blend brush, I carefully began applying the decoupage paper to the surface. Working from the middle outwards, I smoothed out any wrinkles and bubbles using the brush in one hand while keeping the unglued paper taut with my other hand as you can see in the image above. This method does make applying decoupage so easy.

Sealing with Posh Chalk Infusor

Once the paper was in place, I applied a second layer of Posh Chalk Infusor to seal the Posh Chalk decoupage application. Things were really coming together now and I was loving the Art Deco bureau makeover more and more by the minute.

Cutting the Decoupage

The paper was a little too big for the panel so once it had dried, I trimmed it down with a Stanley knife.

Step 6: Setting the stage for the gold pigments

Turning my attention to the glass cabinet doors, Janet had opted for a bold and glamorous look with a full-on gold treatment.

Soffio application

I started by applying a bright yellow base from Magic called Soffio, which would provide a solid foundation for the Lemon Gold Pigments that I would be applying. Removing all the shelves from the cabinet, I made sure to paint them as well to maintain a cohesive look.

end of first day

I was really eager to get the more of the cabinet painted up in the Olivia so I painted the pelmet, and one of the sides. The result was absolutely charming, with the soft green hue adding a touch of elegance to the piece. By this time it was almost 7pm, and time to go home for some dinner and edit TikTok videos!

The following day, the Extra Flexible Paste that I used for the raised stencilling had dried completely, allowing me to paint over it with the Olivia shade. The transformation was truly remarkable, with each layer of paint bringing the piece closer to its final form!

Step 7: Adding the gold

Yet, there was still some finishing touches needed to truly elevate the bureau to its full potential. With the addition of some sparkling embellishments and a revitalising treatment for the raw wood, this piece was destined to shine like never before.

Mixing Posh Chalk Pigments with Infusor

With anticipation building, I eagerly reached for the Lemon Gold Posh Chalk pigments to infuse that luscious gold onto the inside of the cabinet, where I had previously applied the vibrant Soffio base, as well as onto the shelves that I had carefully removed for the Art Deco bureau makeover.

Posh Chalk Pigments really are a versatile, magic product.  You have so much control over the creative process, it’s hard to put them down.  I always advise that you decant the pigments and add the Posh Chalk Infusor, not add pigments to the infusor. Why? Well the pigments are precious and not to be wasted.  If you start off with the pigments and add infusor you are in total control of the consistency of the mix.

Not forgetting the trims that separated the glass panelling, I made sure to paint those too.

Janet’s choice of Posh Chalk Pigments in the Lemon Gold was a stroke of genius, perfectly complementing the hues of the yellows in the decoupage paper.

Step 8: The sealing process

After allowing ample time for everything to dry and settle, it was finally time to seal the entire piece. For this crucial step, I opted for our trusty Posh Chalk Patina Extender Wax. This thick, clear wax not only quenched the thirst of the bare wood but also provided a protective seal for the Magic chalk paint (Olivia). With each stroke of the wax, the bureau’s transformation became more pronounced, ensuring its longevity and beauty for years to come.

A few days later, I returned to the Art Deco bureau to put the finishing touches on Janet’s masterpiece. Removing the masking tape is always a very satisfying step in my workshop. Then with a soft cloth in hand, I carefully buffed the surface to a perfect gleam. It was a moment of pure satisfaction as the bureau’s beauty shone through, reflecting the care and attention to detail that had gone into its transformation. With each gentle stroke, the surface came alive, radiating with a timeless elegance that would surely captivate anyone who beheld it.

Art Deco finale

Like all commissions I take on, the Art Deco bureau sat in my workshop for a couple of weeks until everything had cured and settled. Theo then loaded it into his van and dove it to Janet’s. She was very pleased to say the least!

And there you have it my friends, the Art Deco bureau makeover. I do hope you enjoyed my little adventure with this luscious piece.

I hope that my story inspires you to embark on your own crafting endeavours, discovering the joy and satisfaction that comes from bringing your visions to life.

With love and laughter,


P.S If my blogs inspire you, and you get round to trying some of these techniques and products, I would love to see them in the Creations community we have.  There are over 25,000 members who post daily.  You’ll also find lots of creators in there who have posted some wonderful projects.  It truly is an inspiring group with lots going on.  You can join here and best of all it’s free!

Products Used:

Posh Chalk Deluxe Decoupage: Woman’s Harvest A1

Posh Chalk Pigment Infusor

Posh Chalk Pigments in Lemon Gold

Posh Chalk stencil, Art Deco Fan

Posh Chalk Extra Flexible Paste

Posh Chalk Patina Extending Wax

Posh Chalk Premium Refinishing Trowel – Petit

Magic Paint in Olivia, Cotton

To watch the Art Decor bureau makeover in action, click on the links below.

Part one: Click here

Part two: Click here

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