An old wooden chair that isn’t looking as good as it once did can be much improved through using decoupage on it. Decoupage is the art of adding decorative paper or fabric pieces to an object to brighten it up and make it more interesting. Most decoupage projects follow a theme of some sort, from Victoriana to Tropicana, so it’s a good idea to choose a theme that suits your needs.
Clean the chair first.
Wipe down the chair and remove any cobwebs, grime or other debris from the chair. Allow to dry.
Lay down newspaper on the work surface.
It’s easiest to work over the floor but you can work over a bench provided it has plenty of space and you can stand over it with ease. Wherever you work, ensure that there is plenty of room to move and that it is well ventilated.
Sand the chair.
This step requires a bit of effort but it’s necessary as the paint won’t stick unless the chair is smooth and crusted old paint parts have been smoothed down or taken off. If possible, use an electric sander for easier work. However, even with an electric sander, you’ll need sandpaper on a block to get into the corners and harder parts. Brush away the sanded wood dust and clean up the area in readiness for painting.
This step can be skipped if the chair is already very smooth and perhaps fairly new.
Paint the chair.
Painting the chair is essential to creating a single color backdrop for the decoupage pieces. Use a paint color that will complement your decoupage design and ensure that it won’t overwhelm the decoupage pieces; suitable colors include beige, white, black or pale yellow. Paint at least two to three layers to coat the entire chair evenly and thickly enough. Allow to dry in between each layer, then before proceeding with the rest of the project.
You can spray paint the chair if you know how to do so; this will speed up the painting.
Paint in a well-ventilated space.
Decide whether you want to use paper or fabric decoupage pieces.
You will need to decide on your theme (some theme ideas are suggested next) first, as this may affect whether or not you can find the designs on fabric or paper.
Theme ideas include Victoriana, the beach, tropical, cats or dogs, stars and moons, clothes, animals, cupcakes or doughnuts, woodland critters, flowers and leaves, a safari, makeup items, butterflies, photos of family, pets or friends, etc.
Do a search on Instagram, Pinterest or other sites with themes of photos and pictures, to give you some ideas.
Find or purchase the relevant decoupage paper or fabric.
Cut out lots of pieces from the paper or fabric and place into piles. The piles should reflect size, type of picture/shape and perhaps colors, depending on what makes it easiest for you to use them when creating the decoupage design.
Suitable paper or fabric would include decoupage paper made specifically for this purpose, magazine pictures, photos, scrapbooking paper, labels off groceries or clothing, printed fabric, craft fabric, quilting fabric (fat quarters might be useful), CD or DVD paper covers, stickers, etc.
Create a design plan.
Once you have made the decision on the theme and obtained the paper or fabric pieces, plan how the paper or fabric pieces will be affixed to the chair. To do this, place the pieces on the chair seat and arrange until you like how it looks. When you’re happy with the design, take a digital photograph of it and print it out, or do a quick sketch of where each piece is to be placed. Use this photo or sketch to guide placement of the pieces when adding them.
The decoupage can overlap or be separated to allow the viewer to detect each individual piece (the paint color will show through nicely if you leave gaps).
Cut out more design pieces if needed. This isn’t the time to be skimping on pieces.
You don’t need to confine your efforts to the seat; if the design looks good going up the chair back and down the chair legs, that’s fine but just check the design looks good. Use poster tack to keep the pieces in place and stand back to check how it looks as a whole.
Check that the chair surface is clean.
Although you’ve already sanded it and painted it, the chair should be checked another time before adding the decoupage pieces. Wipe it down with a cloth to remove dust and fluff before beginning.
Paint the back of the first decoupage piece with the decoupage glue.
Paint the area where you are going to stick the piece onto the chair with glue as well. Keep the glue layers thin.
Affix the piece to the chair seat in the appropriate placement for your design.
Press down on each part of the paper or fabric piece to prevent bubbles or wrinkles from forming. If needed, use the cloth or ruler to press across the decoupage piece and smooth it on.
Repeat the same process for all remaining pieces of the decoupage design.
Do not rush this process; it takes time to do it well. Be careful to avoid using too much decoupage glue; always keep the layer of glue thin on both the chair and the decoupage piece.
Set aside to dry.
Leave it for 12 to 24 hours to be sure it has dried completely. Also follow the drying instructions provided on the decoupage glue.
Fabric pieces may take longer to dry completely.
Finish the whole design by painting a layer of decoupage glue over everything glued on.
Let this dry and do another layer. Repeat at least one time more to ensure a strong layer of sealant over the design. This provides a seal and helps to prevent the decoupage pieces from lifting up when the chair is in use.
Always wait for the decoupage glue to completely dry between each layer.
Consider whether or not to add a sealant or topcoat.
This can help the decoupage design to last longer and can be matte, glossy or satin. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions if using. It’s not essential but if the chair is going to used to sit on often, it is a good idea as an extra barrier against rubbing and scratches. Wait at least 24 to 48 hours after adding, to ensure it is completely dry before using.
The decoupage chair is now ready for use. Enjoy your new piece of artwork!