How to Decoupage: A Beginner’s Guide

So, you fancy some new furniture but can’t afford to be splashing the cash? Welcome to the club. Unfortunately, replacing furniture can be an expensive venture – and more often than not it remains at the bottom of the list. There are, of course, other options to simply replacing furniture. Upcycling is a fancy term for DIY-ing an old piece of furniture to give it a new lease of life. One of the more involved ways to do this, such as the creative activity called decoupage.

Decoupage may sound scary (it’s just French); learning how to decoupage is actually very easy and straightforward. Put simply, decoupage is the process of cutting out pictures, sticking them to an object and coating them with varnish.The découpage technique can be used to personalise almost any item in your home and the designs can be as simple or complex as you like. At best, the finished item will be strikingly unusual and so pretty that it looks handpainted, at worst the finished item is a one-of-a-kind and unique DIY project. What’s not to love?

Like most things, there are a tonne of specialised tools out there that till get paraded in your face if you go looking, but these are really only necessary if you see yourself becoming a serious decoupaging expert.  On the whole, to crack on with this craft you’ll most likely have many of the supplies lying around at home to be able to start simple projects right away!

[Photo Credit]

You Will Need:

How to Decoupage:

Step 1: Preparation

The first step on every DIY job is to prepare the area; this means clearing an area and laying down protective equipment, opening windows for good ventilation and cleaning your tools such as brushes and sponges.

Next, you need to prepare the item that you’re wanting to decoupage. The better you prepare the item, the better your result will be – so make sure to be thorough and give it a good wash down, getting rid of any dirt, dust, stains or marks. Ensure the surfaces are smooth, clean and devoid of anything that may interfere with the final finish.

how to decoupage

Step 2: Cut Out Pictures

The main idea of decoupaging is to apply pictures and patterns to your existing furniture. So, by this point, you’ve probably already chosen what you’d like to decoupage on. However, if you haven’t, have a look around your home for:

  • Wrapping paper;
  • Wallpaper;
  • Magazines;
  • Greeting cards;
  • Fabric;
  • Paper napkins;
  • Origami papers.

Once you’ve selected the images, you’ll need to prepare them for your craft. Since you’re unlikely to want the whole picture or piece of fabric it will require being cut out with scissors. This needs a steady hand to be very careful and precise on the edges (these will be visible in the final product). So, go slow and take care.

Tip: If there’s a white outline on the image that you’re cutting out then you can colour it in to ensure that it blends better.

Step 3: Arrange the Images & Stick!

Decoupage artist

Arrange your patterns how you would like them on the furniture. If the piece that you’ve picked is old and has unsightly cracks, stains or marks then you could take this as an opportunity to arrange your images in a manner that covers them.

Once you’re certain about your image arrangement it’s time to start applying the decoupage glue to the designated area, leave it a minute to get tacky before gently placing your image pieces in place. Next, you’ll need to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles that may have gotten trapped underneath or appeared in translation; this can be done by covering with cling film and wiping on top with a damp cloth.

Lastly, before leaving it to dry, wipe away any excess glue for a clean finish.

Step 4: Varnish

When the glue is dry, it’s time to varnish the whole object to seal your creative DIY project in place. Varnishing is super easy and just requires a clean brush. You will need to complete a number of coats of varnish, ensuring to leave each layer to dry thoroughly before starting the next.

how to decoupage tools on wooden table - square composition.

Depending on the type of finish you require will affect what varnish you should use. A glossy varnish won’t go cloudy, regardless of the number of layers you decide to give your finished artefact.

So, not only is decoupaging straight-forward and easy, but it’s hugely rewarding (there’s nothing more satisfying than showing off your DIY conquests to friends and family) AND you’ll end up with a totally unique and wholly personal item of furniture to use in your home. OH, and you’d have saved a buck load of money by not buying something new to replace it – that’s what we call a win, win!

Now you know how to decoupage check out these 40 decoupage ideas for simple projects!