Furniture makeover – Chic and Charming Decoupaging

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Glam up your home in style....for less!

Old, drab furniture cramping your style? And you know what you want, but you either can't find it anywhere or worse, you can find it, but can't afford the shipping costs?

I know the feeling! But it's a blessing in disguise.

All those hours scrolling through Pinterest awakened the creativity department lying dormant and disinterested in my head! And once I started, I couldn't stop!

Everything that didn't belong to my landlord was suddenly a makeover project in my eyes! Subscribing to the philosophy of work smarter, not harder; whatever the task was, it had to be efficient, but look exquisite.

And now some wrapping paper, homemade glue and lace later.... house is unmistakably my home with my flourishing signature on it!

Every woman needs a gorgeous shoe cabinet for her gorgeous shoes

And this is where my shoes lived. :-( I know, I’m sorry.

From a design perspective, it’s the poster boy for beyond boring but from a functional perspective, I cannot tell a lie, it works. Most people might not think it could look any better (and accept it as it is) and others might replace it due to boredom.

But that’s where you miss out in adding soul to something a sale could never replace. You take something seemingly discard-able and make it a unique, personal style statement.

And that has been my calling in life…To leave a place more beautiful than when I found it….to make everything around me, aesthetic AND functional. To repurpose. To surprise. To salvage. Practical Virgo living in a design bubble.

Let’s look past my shoe cabinet’s lack of chic and charm for a minute and look at it’s strengths. And I’d urge you to do this before you consider throwing something out…could you salvage it? how can you enhance it? what other purpose could it serve? Is it really in that bad a condition? In fact, the worse it looks now, the greater the opportunity for beautifying it!

I needed no convincing to keep my pre-Godfairy Cinderella, but I made this list for your benefit:

- It’s a good sturdy shelf that has braved the elements (for when I made it live outside);
- it’s not broken; and
- it’s got huge potential…the plain-ness is actually a perfect canvas to build on.

Great! So that’s decided then. Now what are we going to do with it?

Wrap it up!

The plan for my shoe cabinet makeover was to decoupage it (it comes from the French word decouper meaning to cut out).

It involves cutting out and pasting various pieces of paper like tissue paper, wrapping paper, greeting cards, magazine pages or even shopping bags and adding to that, thin fabric pieces, lace, string, ribbon to accessorize and then protecting it with several coats of varnish or lacquer.

Check out my Decoupaged & Divine Pinterest page for some amazing inspiration!

Traditional decoupage requires that you work with small cut outs. But here I decided to work in large blocks and using as much of the paper as I could in one go and then filling in the gaps with smaller pieces.

Have some idea of what you want to achieve

As you can see, my small hallway looks even more smaller and darker because of the dark brown cabinet.

The use of light colours gives the appearance of more space and dark colours do the opposite (as is clearly visible in the very poor visibility photo, sorry about that.)

My front door is south facing and according to Feng Shui, it’s good to have the colour red in that part of your house to attract luck, fortune, joy, light and hope. Enough said.

So armed with some idea of wanting to use a lighter palette and the definite use of red, I marched into the ONLY art and craft store in my neighborhood, only to be completely disarmed.

The little shop is messy, small, disorderly and dusty! Any ounce of creativity I have, usually vanishes as soon as I step in there. And today was no different.

But anyway, a lengthy, dusty search resulted in me finding my 6 rolls of wrapping paper. I needed some cheering up so I also bought 6 metres of off-white lace for no apparent reason. That’s how it works, doesn’t it?

But it was an extremely good impulse buy, because it came in handy, enhancing the entire look of the shoe cabinet to a finely manicured finish.

So, the lesson here is, follow your instincts even if you’re upset – it’s your creativity guru! :-)

Gather your materials

For my project, I limited myself to wrapping paper and lace. But now that I'm more confident, the next time I'll add more to the mix. :-)

So, the materials I used were:
  • pretty wrapping paper - the non glossy type on both sides as it would be less likely to highlight glue streak marks
  • modge podge or flour glue (check out Penny's homemade glue which I used). It worked great, it's non toxic and it's ridiculously economical especially since I needed a fair amount for my shoe cabinet! Super love!
  • a paint brush, I used a pastry brush
  • scissors
  • lace - the length will depend on how much you intend to use, my project required 5 metres (lucky guess when I was at the arts and crafts store from hell)

Make the shoe cabinet fit for a Queen

and her royal chaussures —>

Aren’t they gorgeous?? I absolutely love them! :D

So back to renovating their home…

1.I covered my work area (my shiny living room floor) with newspaper anticipating the glue to abide by gravity’s rules. It did.

2. I removed the 3 shelves inside to make the cabinet easier to work with and unscrewed the door handles.

3. Straightened out the wrapping paper. My six roles of wrapping paper were tightly rolled up and I needed it straight.

** Handy Hint: Roll it out and then roll up each roll backwards, with the outside now facing in and secure it with rubber bands. When you open it up after 5 minutes or so, it will be more or less flat.

4. I used a measuring tape to measure out the largest area to be covered on the cabinet – length and width – and then marked out my paper accordingly, allowing a centimeter extra for a folded, neater finish.

** Handy Hint: Work smarter. When working with 2 or more identical sides, layer your papers with your marked paper on top, secure it with paper clips and then cut with sharp scissors.
5. I then applied Penny’s homemade glue to the side of the cabinet with my pastry brush liberally and quickly positioned the cut wrapping paper over it, adjusting it until I was happy with it’s right angles and then layered a coat of glue over it, flattening air bubbles or lines as I went (as best I could) and folding the edges, either around the corner or underneath itself.

** Handy Hint: You will be applying more coats of glue later, but the important thing at the initial glue application stage is to ensure the paper adheres to the wood and it’s as neat and bubble free as possible. And if it’s not completely bubble free, who cares, it was probably the look you were going for anyway. ;-)

6. I knew that trying to make the cabinet look uniform with the striped pattern was going to give me a migraine so I decided to be a bit random about it, and as you can see, I think it added loads more character and panache!

7. Once I’d decoupaged the entire cabinet, I applied glue to the edges and began laying the lace strips along the periphery, applying another layer of glue on top, pressing it in place. This worked out well as it covered any questionable edge work of mine and x factored the hell out of it! :-)

8. I wanted to actually use more elegant door handles, but since I couldn’t find the kind I wanted, I decoupaged the existing metal door handles with the same wrapping paper and then lined the top of it with the last bit of remaining lace. I let it dry for 24 hours before attaching it to the shoe cabinet.

9. The cabinet was placed in a sunny area of the house to dry well. This is important so that it doesn’t get mouldy, given my glue is made of perishable ingredients.

10. Once it’s dried, apply a couple of coats of varnish (allowing it to dry between coats) to seal it all completely and let it dry again. (I’m yet to do this part.) But it will give you a nice lacquered finish.


To remind you of the austerity journey to seeming riches...

One chic and charming shoe cabinet to drool over for under $10!!

Lots of love,

What's your most unique makeover?

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