How to Decoupage Furniture: Upcycling the Old Filing Cabinet

Is it about time you had a project? Upcycling opportunities are all around us, and this week we’re looking at how to decoupage furniture. You’ll be amazed at just how quickly and easily you can completely transform even the dullest household objects into works of art. And, to prove our point in the best possible way, we’ve chosen a filing cabinet as our decoupage guinea pig. After all, if you can make a filing cabinet look good, you can make anything look good.

how to decoupage furniture

Here’s how to decoupage furniture in your home office and transform this uninspiring, grey block into a colourful statement piece. Be warned, decoupaging furniture can become an incredibly addictive hobby!

Before you start; here’s what you’ll need:

  • Sandpaper
  • Spray lacquer
  • Eggshell paint & small paint roller (you can get this from any hardware or DIY shop)
  • Mod Podge 
  • Decopatch paper sheets (any design you like)

Top Tip:

We have used 2 sheets of decopatch paper per drawer, but this amount will depend on the size of the filing cabinet you are trying to decoupage.

How to Decoupage Furniture: Transforming the Filing Cabinet

When our office here at Crafty Arts was redecorated, it instantly became a happier, more creative space. Unfortunately, we still had this ugly filing cabinet still staring at us and ruining the whole vibe. It was drab, grey and covered in scuffs and scratches, and we couldn’t bear to look at it any longer. So we did what we do best; we got our craft on.

how to decoupage furniture office

If you’ve been wondering how to decoupage furniture and wanted something relatively straightforward to start with, then a filing cabinet is a great first project. Here’s our step-by-step guide to beautifying this office eyesore.

Step 1: Prepare the Cabinet

Lie your cabinet on its side and remove all the drawers. Then start sanding down any damaged, rusty or scuffed areas until you’re left with an even, smooth surface.

how to decoupage furniture cabinet

Then spray the entire outer surface area with lacquer to ensure you’re left with a paintable surface. If you paint straight onto the untreated surface, your paint will simply start to flake and peel off after a while, so this part is super important.

how to decoupage furniture filing cabinet

Step 2: Paint the Cabinet

While we’re only decoupaging the drawers, we want the entire filing cabinet to have a fresh, bright look. So, once the lacquer dries, take your eggshell paint and roller – we use a roller to get a nice, even coat of paint and avoid messy brush stroke marks – and paint the entire cabinet shell. You can choose any colour you like, as the ‘eggshell’ name only refers to the texture of the paint itself, which has a soft and subtle sheen and looks more elegant than satin or gloss paint.

decoupage furniture paint

Step 3: Start Decoupaging

This is the fun part! Once your paint has dried, grab your Mod Podge and your Decopatch paper sheets and start decoupaging. We decided to simply cover the fronts of the drawers in paper, and we wanted to achieve a smooth, sleek finish. With this in mind, we applied our sheets whole, rather than tearing and building up pieces one at a time. This part is completely up to you, however.

decoupage furniture decopatch cabinet

Simply take a broad glue brush and apply it to the drawers before carefully draping your Decopatch paper sheets over the top. Cut diagonal slits where the paper meets the corners of the drawers, as this will allow it to wrap neatly around the edges. You can always patch up any gaps with small strips of extra paper if needs be.

Step 4: Add the Finishing Touches

Once your paper application has had time to dry, add a smooth coating of more Mod Podge to seal it and give it a nice, solid finish. You can leave it at this if you like, or you can add a few more decorative touches in the form of decoupaged magnets in the same style as your drawers. Below you will see how we coated a few basic magnets in a few offcuts of our Decopatch paper and stuck them to the side of the cabinet. We love how this adds a splash more colour and creates a co-ordinated aesthetic. What’s more, they also add to the practicality of the filing cabinet as you can attach notices and documents to the side using these upcycled magnets.

decoupage furniture accessories

Step 5: Admire Your Handiwork

how to decoupage furniture filing cabinet

Ta-daah! Now you have a bespoke filing cabinet with a whole new lease of life. No more ugly grey blocks and no more uninspiring office spaces for you. And the great thing is, now you know how to decoupage furniture, you can apply this to practically any piece in your home or office. There’s always something in need of decoupage, after all.

What do you think of our brand spanking new filing cabinet? Send us your piccies using our social media buttons below and let us know how you get on with your own furniture decoupage projects.


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