How to Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture

by | Mar 12, 2023

In this blog, I’m going to guide you through how to apply decoupage on wood furniture. Specifically, to a single drawer on this antique vanity.

Have you ever admired artwork on a piece of furniture wishing you had the skills to paint something similar only to find out the “artwork” is actually decoupage? Which means you CAN create something similar! 

Sounds simple enough…right? Nope….it got complicated! The good news is…..I learned a few things and I’d like to share them with you!  So consider this Decoupage PLUS!

* This post may contain affiliate links. I could make a commission at no charge to you if you purchase my recommended products. Please read my disclosure here and my privacy policy here.

apply decoupage on wood furniture - Traceys Fancy
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Decoupage is simply pasting pieces of paper to any object to make it attractive!  This art form has been used on furniture since the 17th century!  

And I can say for a fact, this is a game changer for those of us in the furniture painting world!  

Nothing about decoupage is difficult as long as you are working on a flat space free of any objects. And even if you’re not, I can teach you the tricks to make it a smooth process!

My Kidney Shaped Vanity Project

This adorable antique kidney-shaped vanity is my project today! My design plan is to decoupage the three drawers. 

Kidney Shaped Vanity before decoupage - Traceys Fancy
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The left and right drawers were a walk in the park once I got around the knob……as they are curved outward (convex).  

But that center drawer??  It is CONCAVE (curved inward)…..AND has a knob that cannot be removed. 

kidney shaped vanity curved drawer
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Watch this week’s YouTube video to see How to Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture:

Choosing Decoupage Paper for Your Wood Furniture Piece

When choosing paper, there isn’t a right or wrong choice. Go with what you love! For this project, I LOVE this decoupage paper – Lovely Sonnet by Dixie Belle! It is so soft and feminine and really fits beautifully with the dainty theme of this vanity.  

cutting decoupage paper - Traceys Fancy
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Choose your paper and cut to size always leaving ample room around the outer edges.

PRO TIP: Excess paper can be trimmed away easily and it is always better to have too much than not enough. I will show you this process further in the blog

How to cut decoupage paper around a knob

If the hardware can be removed, do so before you cut the paper to size!

Unfortunately, for this piece, the drawers all have a non-removable giant knob smack in the middle that I have to work around. 

I used a surgical technique called the keyhole method to get around the knobs…so we are getting really fancy today folks!!!

First, I cut a vertical line straight up the center of the paper to where the knob will be.  

cutting keyhole on decoupage paper - Traceys Fancy
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Then, I slide the paper down over the knob to check for a good fit.

testing decoupage paper fit - Traceys Fancy
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Once I had the vertical cut to the correct length, I then made a crisscross cut right where that vertical cut ended just to allow the paper to lay nicely around that knob stem.

cut cross at keyhole for knob - Traceys Fancy
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This allows me to lay the paper completely flat and marry the two pieces back together under the knob. 

apply decoupage on wood furniture - Traceys Fancy | placing decoupage paper
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This way we only have one small seam to worry about when decoupaging the paper down with the top coat!

Genius right?  

Click HERE to see this process in action on my YouTube video!

When You Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture… The Right Adhesive Matters!

Picking the right adhesive is so important! I use Dixie Belles Satin Clear Coat as my adhesive. It is sooooo much easier to work with than Mod Podge…..as in no comparison!  

Dixie Belle Clear Coat Satin
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It is thick, but not gummy….goes on clear…and dries clear and dries fast…..but not too fast….still gives you plenty of time to move your paper should you need to.  

Just brush on an ample amount on your furniture surface.  

apply decoupage on wood furniture - Traceys Fancy | prepping decoupage with clear coat
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Then gently lay down your paper into the position, starting from top to bottom for larger pieces.

This drawer is small so I am able to do this all at once.

apply decoupage on wood furniture-Traceys Fancy | laying decoupage paper
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Once the paper is down, you will want to spread out any wrinkles.

PRO TIP: You can use your fingers, a waddled-up piece of cling wrap, or my personal preference…. the Thing-A-Ma-Jig silicone spreader. Just be aware, your fingers tend to pull and tear the paper where the silicone tool or cling wrap will slide easily to smooth out wrinkles.

How to Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture with a Curved Surface?

This drawer is convex, which means it doesn’t want to lay flat on the drawer.  It has tension pulling – not allowing me to smooth it out completely to the edge.  

So, I made small snips in the paper!

apply decoupage on wood furniture - Traceys Fancy | Cutting slits to lay on curve
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If you find yourself trying to decoupage on a curved surface, make these little cuts around your outer edges….and it gives the paper just enough slack to lay down on the “convex” curve!  It worked like a charm!  

Sometimes it’s easiest to WATCH this process, click over to my YouTube post to see exactly how this is done.

Sealing the Decoupage Paper

Once the paper is flat and bubbles and wrinkles have been smoothed out, you can then apply a layer of top coat on top of the paper.  Again, I went with a coat of Dixie Belle Satin Top Coat.

apply decoupage on wood furniture-Traceys Fancy | applying clear coat top coat after laying decoupage paper
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Again, use your thing-a-ma-jib silicone tool or plastic wrap ball to spread this around and smooth it out one last time.  

using thing-a-ma-jig to smooth surface - Traceys Fancy
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I am a recovering perfectionist and let me just say that my creative life is much more enjoyable now that I have released myself from those chains! I highly recommend it!!

How to Best Remove Excess Paper

Finally, you can remove your excess paper.  

Depending on what type or weight of paper you are using, you may be able to wet your edge slightly and just gently pull away…..like magic.

paint edge of decoupage paper with water to remove - Traceys Fancy
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This particular paper is a heavier weight and needs a bit of sanding with a sanding pad to knock off the excess.  I just wet the edge with a brush and pulled down against the edge with my sanding sponge to remove it.

using with sanding pad to finish decoupage edge | Traceys Fancy
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It’s very easy, and thank goodness, because as you can see it has a decorative edge around the bottom. Even with the fancy edge, the finish is clean and crisp!

finished decoupage edge of decoupaged wood furniture - Traceys Fancy
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And that’s it! I already applied a top coat over the paper so it’s just a personal preference if you choose to add a second top coat to it.  

Just let dry and call it done!

The FINISHED LOOK: Kidney Shaped Vanity with Decoupage Drawers

Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture - Traceys Fancy
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I did enhance the edges of each drawer with a deep blue-green using a dry brush technique.

Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture - Traceys Fancy
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Then, I gold-leafed those knobs (click here to learn more about How to Apply Gold Leafing) and added a WoodUBend floral to each one!  

Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture - Traceys Fancy
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I also applied a silk screen stencil called Delicate Lace on top of light pink & white stripes along the side. This Blue Shaker cabinet is another project with a silkscreen that makes a big impression!

Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture with Silk Screen - Traceys Fancy
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And a faux wood grain pattern to the top of the vanity. See how to apply the faux wood grain here! And if you are really curious about faux wood grain, you can check out this painted white cabinet with a faux dark wood grain top.

Apply Faux Wood Grain to Painted Furniture - Traceys Fancy
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I encourage you to seek out some decoupage paper that speaks to you and give it a practice run on something really simple like a lazy susan or a wood box! 

It’s pretty addicting so I don’t think it will take long before you’re cutting and pasting away at something much more fancy!  

Feel free to leave a comment and tell me how you will apply decoupage to wood furniture. What’s YOUR next decoupage project??

Until next time, please click HERE to visit my YouTube channel. And CLICK HERE to be the first to see all my most recent projects on Instagram!

More Projects to Learn How to Apply Decoupage on Wood Furniture:

If you enjoyed my tutorial on how to apply decoupage to wood furniture, click on any photo below for more before and after photos and detailed painting instructions.

JOIN ME FOR MORE…with Curiously Creative

If you enjoyed this and want more of a deep dive into home decor and DIY processes, join my exclusive online creative group, Curiously Creative. I show up LIVE to guide you through every step of updating, upcycling, crafting, and creating on-trend home decor and gift-giving ideas! 

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Products used to Apply Decoupage on this Kidney Shaped Vanity:

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