How To: Beginners Guide To Decoupage

Parveen ChandiMar 15, '22

Decoupage may sound fancy but all it really involves is cutting out pictures, gluing them to an object and then coating with layers of varnish. This pretty paper craft is simple to do, looks beautiful and can seriously up your DIY craft game. It’s a great way to upcycle tired, worn household furniture, breathe new life into household objects and garden accessories and can also be used to create decorations for special occasions such as Easter. You can even decoupage your notebook covers for a customised look. Here is what you need to know and 5 of our favourite projects to get you started. Happy crafting!

What you’ll need:

Pretty pictures (such as wrapping paper, wallpaper, fabric, paper napkins, tissue paper origami paper, old book covers), decoupage glue, gloss varnish, scissors or craft knife, soft cloth or sponge, tweezers and sandpaper.

Which glue to use:

Decoupage glue is ideal and can be used as both glue and varnish. Good alternatives are PVA glue which dries clear or permanent spray glue.

Basic technique:

  1. Prepare the surface: Ensure the item is free from dust, dirt and is dry.
  2. Cut out pictures: Select your chosen pictures and cut out carefully.
  3. Arrange the pictures: Before gluing on the pictures ensure you’re happy with the position.
  4. Glue the pictures in place: Smooth away wrinkles and wipe away excess glue with a damp sponge or cloth.
  5. Varnish: Ensure the glue is fully dry and varnish. Leave varnish to dry thoroughly between coats. You may need a few coats to achieve the desired finish.

Top Tip: To achieve a finely lacquered finish you will need to sand lightly after a few layers of varnish and wipe away excess dust. Then keep repeating until you’re happy with the finish


Decoupage coat hook

Add some personality to your coat hooks and racks. We’re loving this floral design using printed tissue paper. Unscrew the hooks to make it easier to create your design, and re-attach once fully varnished and dry.

 Decoupage Coat Hook

Decoupage furniture

Turn worn furniture into a fun focal point. Upcycle an old chest of drawers by removing the drawers and painting the frame, varnish if desired. Then unscrew the handles from the drawers and cover with your chosen paper and varnish. We found wallpaper or origami printed paper works best. For furniture sanding in between varnishing will give a high-quality finish. Then re-attached your handles once the varnish is dry and the desired finish has been achieved.

 Decoupage Chest Of Drawers

Decoupage plant pot

Transform old terracotta or plastic pots into new pretty planters for your home and garden. A great way to add some colour, spruce up an artificial plant or as a customised gift. Both paper or fabric will work. Up to 8-10 layers of varnish may be required depending on the thickness of the paper or fabric.

 Decoupage Terracotta Plant Pot

Decoupage lampshade

This lampshade hack is one of our absolute favourites, and so effective. You can decoupage the exterior or interior of the lampshade. We love the idea of using world map wrapping page or an old map to create interest and a point of difference. Perfect for those who love to travel.

 Decoupage Lampshade

Decoupage chair

Have mis-matched chairs? Why not breathe new life into drab seating by upcycling with this pretty paper craft, an easy way add some colour to your dining area. Depending on the type of chair you may need to lightly sand and prime the surface before you start. This will create the best base for your paper or fabric to stick and last.

 Decoupage Chairs

For more craft ideas take a look at:

How To: Upcycle old garden pots

How To: Upcycling garden ideas

How To: Easter crafts you’ll love

How To: Create an Easter basket or hamper