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Decoupage Dresser

By: Annie Sloan

There are découpage motif books, but you could also find a good image in a magazine or online. The picture can then be adjusted, scanned, and printed using a computer. The paper design is then cut out and stuck down onto a surface and varnished several times. I have chosen a design of people running to go along each drawer.

Project from Annie Sloan's Paint Transformations.

Decoupage Dresser 


  • Design from a print book or other source
  • Computer, scanner, and printer
  • Scissors
  • Water-based matt découpage medium
  • 1in (2.5cm) paintbrush for applying medium
  • Barcelona Orange paint
  • Monet Blue paint
  • Olive Green paint
  • Water
  • Small artists’ brush
  • Tin of clear wax
  • 1in (2.5cm) paintbrush for applying wax


While in Venice some years ago I was inspired by the most charming 18th-century découpage cabinet with sepia prints on it, colored gently and haphazardly with watercolor. This chest of drawers was the perfect piece to emulate the effect I saw that day in the Doge’s Palace.



  1. I have chosen a design of a hilarious medieval chase with skirts flying and arms waving that I saw in a book of découpage prints. After measuring the height of the drawers I scanned and enlarged the design to the required size. The initial printout was a little dark for my taste so I changed the color to a brownish black and printed it out again. I also reversed the design on the computer so that the people will be running the opposite way on the middle drawer. If you struggle with computers, take your chosen design to a local copy shop; they will be able to help you scan and print it out.

    Images for Decoupage
  2. Cut out the figures with a sharp pair of scissors, getting as close to the edge of the design as possible. It’s best if you cut everything out before you start glueing so you can plan roughly where you are going to position each figure. Next, paint the whole area of one drawer front with the découpage medium.

    Cutting Out Images
  3. With the découpage medium still wet, place a cut-out figure at one end of the drawer. At the same time brush over the design with the medium, which will now act as a varnish. Try to avoid the paper bubbling up by brushing from one end to the other. If a bubble does come up try to press it down and out the side, but do this quickly before the varnish begins to dry. Repeat the process until the whole drawer front is filled with images. Varnish the drawer twice more, allowing each layer to dry thoroughly.

    Placing Images
  4. For the painting of the pictures choose one main color and two or three others to partner it. I selected watered down Barcelona Orange as my main color with some Monet Blue and Olive Green—one hot and two cool colors. I applied the colors to the “clothes,” sometimes deliberately missing the area a little so it looks more like a painting. Use the paint like watercolor and make the color uneven in parts. If you make a mistake take the paint off with water.

    Color Images
  5. When you’ve finished coloring, complete the drawers with two layers of varnish. Either wax the whole piece, including the drawer fronts, with a brush or continue with varnish—I prefer wax.

  6. I painted my main color Barcelona Orange inside the drawers, which is in deliberate and strong contrast to the coolness of the outside decoration.

    Inside of Drawer

Tip: Try to avoid having a single small image in the middle of a drawer as it can look a little corny. If you have one good image perhaps try using it enlarged so it fills up the area. 

Finished Drawer

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I like buying old books for use as decoupage illustrations. The inks are usually permanent and the paper is of good quality. I find my books at library sales of their discards (which is particularly good for floral / botanical artwork or well used children's books, the second hand book stores and garage sales. I always have my eyes open for prints and artwork I can adapt to my decoupage work. Where do you find your supplies?

Wow love this idea.Thanks


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