Ever hit one of your favorite home décor stores and see something you love, then think, I wonder if I can make that? That was exactly our experience when we saw, at a Certain Upscale Store That Will Remain Unnamed, the perfect side table covered with a gorgeous vintage map. Since it was a bit of a budget-buster, and since our DIY adventures have taught us a thing or two about getting crafty, we figured we’d tackle how to decoupage a vintage map table in our own workshop. We think you’ll agree that the results are pretty terrific.
This is an easy DIY you can accomplish in a single weekend, if you repaint the piece first, or in a single weekend morning, if no painting is needed. The same technique can also be applied to decoupaging a dresser, console, bookcase, or TV cabinet. The possibilities are practically endless, and you don’t have to stick to papering the top of the furniture; you can also try to decoupage unexpected spots, like the front or interior of drawers or cabinets, the rim around the edges of a tray table, or just the legs of a coffee table (you’ll want square, rather than tapered, legs for the latter).
For this decoupage furniture project, we started by selecting a tray table we found at a secondhand shop, not only because it had an cool retro look, but also because its two shelves offer double the opportunity for decoupage coverage—and visual wow factor. The table was a bit beat up, so we gave it a fresh coat of acrylic paint, and let it dry completely. (If you also paint your piece before decoupaging, opt for a flat finish; it will better mimic the texture of the decoupaged paper and also help to hide flaws like wrinkles.) We found a pretty map at a flea market, and we were good to go.
Then we got down to some serious decoupage business. Here’s how.
What you’ll need:
Furniture of your choice; note that the area to be decoupaged must be as flat as possible
Vintage map, or other decorative paper of your choice
Scissors or Xacto knife
Popsicle or craft sticks
Soft cleaning brush
Clear acrylic sealer (aka, matte spray lacquer)
How to do it:
1. Using the tape measure, measure the area where you’ll be gluing the map or decorative paper.
2. Using the yardstick, measure and mark those dimensions on the map or paper. Use the square to mark the corners.
3. With scissors or an Xacto knife, cut out the pattern, making sure to cut notches, if necessary, to go around legs or moldings.
4. Dip the paintbrush into the Mod Podge, and brush a light coating onto the top of the furniture or on the back side of the map or paper.
5. Carefully apply the map or paper, Mod Podge side down, onto the appropriate area of the furniture, smoothing it as much as possible to prevent too much wrinkles.
6. Quickly apply a top coat of Mod Podge to prevent curling or buckling of the paper.
7. Using the straight edge of the craft or popsicle stick, apply gentle but firm pressure to the map or paper to smooth out an wrinkles. Do this slowly, to avoid tearing the paper.
8. Repeat the process on any other areas you’re planning to decoupage. Allow all areas to dry completely.
9. Once the topcoat is dry, sand lightly with 400-grit sandpaper until smooth. Dust off with a soft cleaning brush. Spray all decoupaged areas with a coat of matte spray lacquer. Allow to dry completely.