Tuesday 12 August 2014

Weekend project: How to create a distressed wallpaper cabinet + also featured on the Laura Ashley blog

How to create a distressed wallpaper cabinet

So this weekend I embarked upon my biggest upcycle project yet ... 
I transformed my very dark corner cabinet into a very pretty light one with the help of Laura Ashley and her pretty paints and wallpapers. Ms Ashley set me the task of coming up with a DIY project that could feature on their blog (which you can see here) ... and I chose to do this, because my little cottage is quite dark and I'm often looking for ways to brighten it up, and transforming dark furniture is a ideal way to do this. It creates the illusion of space, and with the added touch of fairy lights inside the cabinet, my dark little corner has come to life with a sparkle! 

Laura Ashley wallpaper cabinet

This is a weekend project, and although it might seem like a big job, it's well worth it. In fact I have the up cycle bug now and I want to paint everything (except you Ralphy - unless you're a very naughty boy). So don't be put of by the size of this project, it's hugely satisfying and you'll love the end result. If you're keen to transform some of your own furniture, here is a simple step-by-step guide to up cycling and distressing furniture with paint and wallpaper.

Distressed cabinet after makover
Cabinet before makeover


What you will need:

3 optional contrasting pieces of wallpaper - I used Laura Ashley wallpapers
Undercoat / primer in white - I used Homebase own brand.
Water based top coat in Eggshell - I used Laura Ashley in Cotton white
Optional fairy lights - I used micro led lights in warm white
Clear soft wax - I used Briwax
Fine sandpaper
Masking tape
PVA glue (in matt)
Paint brush
lint-free cloth

Note: Don't be put off by the size of this project or by this shopping list, 
once you have some of these products you'll be able to use them again and again.

Laura Ashley paint

Step 1

Remove all hinges and door knobs. You could work around them but you'll get a much better finish if you remove them. (I know it's time consuming, but it's worth it.)

Distressed furniture tutorial

Step 2

Sand the furniture lightly - you don't have to strip it completely, just a little to help the paint stick.

How to prepare furniture for distressing

Step 3

Apply your first coat of undercoat / primer. If you're transforming something light you may only need one coat of primer, but my cabinet needed two. Once the first coat is dry give it a very light sanding to make sure there are no lumps and bumps, then apply the next one. Sanding in between coats makes all the difference.

How to paint and distress furniture

Step 4

Once the primer is dry, apply your first top coat. Once dry give it a very light sanding then apply the second coat (and a third if necessary). 

Priming furniture for painting

Step 5 

Once the paint is completely dry it's time to distress - this is the fun part! You can either use sandpaper alone to distress or use a putty knife as well.  I didn't have a putty knife, so I used a blunt butter knife which worked just as well - just make sure it's not too sharp as you don't want to carve chunks out!

How to distress furniture

Start with the main edges. Take hold of both ends of the knife and scrape along the edge until you have the desired effect, then give the edge a sanding. You want it to look natural so wear out the areas that would wear naturally, making some bits more distressed than others ... this way it won't look too uniform. Pick out any detail too - I found the sandpaper works better on the smaller / detailed areas and the knife & sandpaper combo worked great on all the edges.

How to distress and wax furniture

Step 6 

Once you've finished distressing give it a good dust down, and apply your wax with a soft lint free cloth. You could use a dark wax to give an aged effect, but I wanted to leave this looking quite fresh. Rub it into the grain then once dry, give it a good buff.

Step 7 

Measuring the wallpaper is the tricky part. First measure the width and length you need to cover ...

Preparing cabinet for wallpaper

Step 8 

Then make sure your wallpaper edge is straight to begin with - if it's wonky this will not go to plan! Measure your wallpaper and put a mark on each edge where it needs to be cut,  then fold the edge, making sure it's straight and cut to size.

Measuring wallpaper

Step 9

Once you've cut out your wallpaper to size make sure it fits, and make any necessary adjustments.
Take it out, and apply your first coat of PVA glue directly onto the furniture. My mum and I applied this together as it can dry quite quickly. I suggest having someone to help you at this stage as laying the wallpaper down can be tricky. If one person can hold one end, the other person can line up the first edge then gradually lay it down. Just take your time and once it's in place ...

Decoupaging cabinet with wallpaper

Step 10 

... take a clean, dry cloth / tea towel and smooth the paper down from the CENTRE outwards. Do one side, then the next ... gently removing any bubbles as you go. If you do get creases or bubbles don't panic. Do your best to push them towards the edge. Many bubbles disappear overnight, but even if some do remain don't paint, you won't even notice them. Once the wallpaper is up, then brush on another thin, even layer of PVA glue on TOP of the wallpaper.  

Laura Ashley wallpapered cabinet

Step 11 - Finishing touches. 

Now Once I removed my hinges I gave them a good clean and was going to put them back as they were. However I didn't like them dark grey so I decided to paint them last minute. I gave them one relatively thick coat of top coat (but two thin coat would suffice too) then once dry I sand-papered the paint off all of the edges, and gently brought out the detail on the top. I also dabbed a little paint on the top of each screw, making sure I could still get the screwdriver in! (there were 64 screws :-/ this step probably wasn't vital but I'm a perfectionist!) 

Step 12 - Once completely dry screw all hinges back in place.

Distressed wallpapered cabinet

Finally stand back and admire your hard work! Tada

Old antique lace

Simple guide to distressing furniture

Laura Ashley wallpaper

What do you think?! I'd love to hear your thoughts or experience upcycling furniture. Should you embark on such a project yourself do post me a piccie of the final results on facebook or Twitter!

Now go forth and upcycle my little craft bunnies!

JM x

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  1. Such a lovely job - well done you! Might have to have a go at one myself. Hope all well lovely lady x

    1. Thanks Margot :-) yes do, then show me piccies! All is well here thanks,hope you're well and enjoying this wonderful british summer xx

  2. What a beautiful piece!! I'm not quite sure I'd have your patience to complete such a mammoth task but the end result is surely worth it. It looks amazing.

    1. Aw thank you :-) well the air was blue a couple of times, especially when it fell on me in the garden ... but I was determined!

  3. It looks amazing! Well done :) And it goes beautifully with all your vintage pieces. Perfect x

  4. Fantastic - the finished result it was well worth the effort. And I am with you on the perfectionist thing - I make stage costumes for a local vocal school, and the effort I put into getting the detail rght - that can't be seen from the audience. I'll bet the back of your cupboard is as perfect as the front!

  5. I love your proects!!! You have an eye for beauty.