Like the book says, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll ask for a glass of milk. But did you know if you give Barb Blair a roll of Peel and Stick Removable Woven wallpaper, she’ll ask for a bucket of paint and a ruler so she can refurbish a drab dresser into the accent piece of your dreams? It’s true and we’ve been lucky enough to see it happen more than once on the blog!
The author of Furniture Makes the Room and Furniture Makeovers is back to show you how to transform a thrifted dresser (or any piece of furniture!) with just a few tools from your local hardware store and Spoonflower’s Peel and Stick Removable Woven wallpaper. Did we mention she’s sharing her top tip for achieving seamless dresser drawer fronts when applying wallpaper? Let’s get started!
How to Refresh a Dresser with Wallpaper
Dresser Refresh Materials
1. Prep Your Furniture
If there are any repairs that need to be made to the piece of furniture, go ahead and make all of the repairs first thing. When wallpapering a piece of furniture, you want the surface of your furniture piece to be completely smooth. Plan out the finished look, including what hardware you will be using. If the current hardware holes do not work for the new hardware, go ahead and wood fill the old hardware holes and drill the holes for the new hardware. I am a firm believer in fresh new hardware to complete a furniture makeover, and I promise you will not want to have to remove or drill through your beautiful wallpaper to create new hardware holes!
2. Sand Your Furniture
Lightly sand down the entire piece using a medium grit sanding sponge. Be sure to sand with the direction of the wood grain so that you don’t scratch the wood surface. This light sanding is simply to remove any dirt, and give the surface a little porosity and holding power for the paint. This is not something you want to push super hard on and sand through the top veneer surface—this is a light sanding!
Remove all of the sanding dust by vacuuming and then wiping down with a slightly damp shop towel or lint free cloth.
3. Tape Your Furniture for Painting
Tape off all edges and drawer runners with painter’s tape (I prefer Frog Tape) so that your painted edges stay clean and crisp. Details matter, and I personally do not want to see messy paint sloshes on the side of an open drawer.
4. Paint Your Furniture
Pour your paint color of choice into the paint tray, and get your paint brush and foam roller ready. This particular piece of furniture has super flat surfaces (for the most part), so I rolled almost the entire piece with a foam roller. There were a few minor places where I cut in around the edges with a paintbrush. Again, I love clean crisp details, so I also painted the back of the furniture piece in order to make the piece look completely cohesive and finished. I chose a lighter paint color to match the background of the wallpaper, so it took two coats of paint to get the coverage that I wanted. I prefer that my paint color always match the base of the wallpaper that I’m using so that it looks seamless and crisp. You can either eye that paint color, or take a sample of the wallpaper with you to the paint store and have it matched.
5. Prep Your Wallpaper for Installation
Once you are completely finished painting, and the piece is completely dry (usually 4-6 hours) it is time to plan out your wallpaper application. Note: It is really important that you have already pre planned an overall wallpaper design for the piece that you are creating. Most wallpaper designs are vertical. Vertical is awesome for walls and smaller pieces of furniture. However, creating wallpaper masterpieces on larger furniture pieces usually requires using horizontal patterns so that there is not a seam on the drawer fronts. Another reason to have the pattern printed horizontally is so that the pattern can match seamlessly down the front of the furniture piece and look like a “painting”. Spoonflower is amazing at custom printing wallpaper for these types of projects, so get the correct measurements for the piece you are working on and have them printed accordingly.
Pro tip: If you don’t see a horizontal version of a pattern you want to use in the Marketplace, login to your Spoonflower account and message the designer directly to request a rotated version (also known as railroad) by selecting the Contact button on the designer’s shop page.
6. Apply the Wallpaper to the Furniture Sides
Apply the wallpaper to the sides of the piece of furniture. With this furniture piece there was a perfect inlay situation on the sides, so I roughly measured the size of the wallpaper piece that I needed by holding the wallpaper up to the side of the furniture piece, and cut it accordingly, leaving about an inch or so in overage. Once you have your wallpaper piece cut out, peel off the backing and apply the wallpaper. I find that the easiest way to do this on furniture is to line up the straight edge of the wallpaper with the straight edge of the furniture, and apply and smooth with your hands from side to side until you have smoothed the paper all the way down to the bottom. When the entire piece of wallpaper has been applied and is exactly where you want it, use the plastic squeegee to smooth out any air bubbles and secure the paper to the piece. The great thing about the removable woven wallpaper is that you have time to adjust before the final smoothing, so don’t stress. Enjoy the process!
7. Trim the Wallpaper Edges
Once the wallpaper is exactly where you want it and completely smooth and free of air bubbles, it is time to trim the edges. I prefer to use a carpenter’s square in situations like this because I can cut the top line and then go right into cutting the side line without having to pick up and move my tool. This tool also helps in keeping the corners nice and crisp as this is where many make mistakes, and tear or undercut their paper. If you do not have a carpenter’s square, a ruler will absolutely do the trick as well! Use your craft knife with removable blades to trim the excess paper. Push the carpenters square right up to the edge of the trim and cut in a straight line between the carpenters square and the wood trim. Be careful not to press into your wood too hard to prevent damaging the wood. Your craft knife blades should be refreshed after each cut in order to keep things nice and clean. If you use the same blade the entire time, your paper will fray and will not cut cleanly. Nobody wants that look!
8. Layout the Wallpaper on the Drawer Fronts
Once the sides of your furniture piece are papered, it is time to paper the drawer fronts. Here is where I feel like things need to be done a certain way in order for the pattern to match up all the way down the front of the drawers. I am pretty particular about this step, and get asked about it all the time. So, here is the deal. I take out all the drawers and line them up on the floor exactly as they would appear in the piece of furniture. I make sure they are all butted up right next to each other with just enough space for my craft knife to cut in between each drawer. I then lay my wallpaper over the drawer fronts in one big piece (leave the backing on at this point) and use my craft knife to cut in between each drawer. This step creates my pieces for the front of each drawer and ensures that my design will match up once applied to the drawer fronts. Even with the wood trim in between the drawers, this tight cutting ensures that most of the design stays present and will flow seamlessly down the front of the furniture piece.
9. Apply the Wallpaper to the Drawer Fronts
Remove the backing from the wallpaper and apply each piece to its designated drawer front. I work from left to right on the drawers, but whichever way you work, you will want to work from one side to the other, smoothing the paper as you go with your hands. Once the wallpaper is in place, do the final smoothing with the squeegee to remove any air bubbles and to firmly adhere the wallpaper to the drawer front.
10. Trim the Wallpaper Edges
Once the wallpaper is firmly applied to each drawer front, trim off the excess paper using your craft knife. I find that the easiest way to do this is to hold onto the loose edge of the wallpaper and slide my craft knife straight down the edge of the drawer, using the wood as my guideline. This ensures that the paper is flush with the edge of the drawer and gives a nice clean line. Again, make sure to remove your craft knife blade in between each cut to make sure that your knife stays sharp and your wallpaper edges are clean.
11. Add the Hardware
Once the wallpaper is applied to the drawer fronts and trimmed to perfection, it is time to add your new hardware! Also, I love to line the drawers with paper as well, so be sure to order enough paper to line the drawers. Apply the paper to the inside of the drawers the same way you did on the outside of the piece using the carpenters square and craft knife to trim to fit. Remove the backing and adhere the wallpaper to the inside of the drawer. It is so nice to open the drawer and see beautiful paper, plus it’s a nice layer to have next to all of your clothing (or whatever you decide to store in your piece) as well!
Find more of Barb’s refurbished furniture projects on the blog!
About the Guest Author
Barb Blair is famous for her knack with furniture, spotting classic pieces, transforming them into modern showstoppers, and styling them within gorgeous spaces. Blair believes firmly in surrounding yourself with the items you love, ignoring trends, never being afraid of mixing things up, and creating a home that is uniquely you! Personalized furniture has the power to make an entire room. See more of Blair’s creations on her Instagram feed @knackstudio and feel free to say hello and keep up with her personal instagram @barbiejblair