Wallpaper Decoupage Project

Have you wondered about using wallpaper to decoupage a piece of furniture? I walk you through the process I used to decoupage a small cupboard.

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As most of you know, I sell vintage and antique items.  So, I am always on the lookout for new inventory. This means visiting a lot of auctions, estate sales, flea markets, and other antique stores.  

Last fall, there was a fundraising event for a New York  library, where folks donated various items that the library can then sell. The proceeds from the sale of the items go towards funding the library. It was at this event where  my soon to be sister in law found this cute little pine cupboard for me.  It was in perfect condition and only needed a good cleaning.  

Small Pine Cupboard

Also, as a vintage/antique dealer, I have a pretty good collection of old wallpapers.  Here is a TIP – one way to identify old wallpaper is when the backside of the wallpaper is all you see on the roll.  In other words, the pattern is rolled up on the inside.  Modern wallpaper has the pattern showing on the outside of the roll.  (Which makes perfect sense if you want to be able to see the pattern you are buying)

Old Wallpaper

Anyway, I had some beautiful sheets of old wallpaper that while I loved the pattern, the edges were too brittle for me to use it on a large scale.  The wallpaper edges flaked away every time I unrolled the paper.   This meant I could only use small pieces of the wallpaper as opposed to an entire sheet. The little cupboard from the library sale was the perfect project for using this brittle old wallpaper. 

So, let’s get started on how to use wallpaper to decoupage this cupboard.

Wallpaper Decoupage

I got the inspiration for this project from watching Leanne Ford’s renovation of her Cottage.  She found some old rolls of wallpaper and decided to use them in the bedrooms.  She shares her recipe for using old wallpaper on the walls.

I love the look of old wallpaper on a plaster wall. Particularly if the wallpaper is torn and only portions of the pattern remain.  

For this project, I wanted to recreate that look but on the pine cupboard.  I wanted the cupboard to look as though it had been around for years and that long ago, someone applied wallpaper to it. 

A little disclaimer, this project requires your own personal judgment to determine when it’s done.  This process is more like creating a piece of art – because you decide when it’s done.


First let’s gather our supplies.  It’s important to note, you can apply this technique to other furniture pieces – such as dressers, large cupboards, sideboards, shelves or chairs.  Keep in mind, you can also choose to decoupage a small portion of a piece of furniture, such as the front of the drawer. Another note, it’s much easier to decoupage wood furniture than it is to decoupage plastic or glass.

Finally, some wallpaper, especially newer wallpaper has a fibrous texture, can be really thick or tear resistant – for best results – I would avoid using these types of wallpaper. Your wallpaper should be “standard wallpaper weight”. In general, you want to use a piece of smooth wallpaper or any type of smooth paper that is not too thick.

Below is the list of supplies I used for this project. I have linked the supplies listed below where possible or linked similar items.

Some old wallpapers that I found on Etsy are shared below. However, you can also use wrapping paper, scrap book paper, decorative specialty sheet paper, rice paper, or other types of paper for furniture decoupage projects.

Step 1: Clean the Piece of Furniture

As previously mentioned, this cupboard was in perfect working order but it needed a good cleaning.  I decided to lightly sand the cupboard using some 220 grit sandpaper and then gave it a good wipe down with some Simple Green.  

I removed the shelves and hardware before cleaning the cupboard.  The entire cleaning process took about 30 minutes.

Step 2: Tear the Wallpaper

Here is one of my biggest secrets for the successful application of decoupaging paper.  It is important to TEAR the paper.  Do not use scissors to cut the paper.  Tearing the paper gives the edges the perfect feathered look.  Cutting the paper with scissors creates harsh lines that just don’t look good.   That’s my big secret.  Tearing the paper also makes easy work of large scaled creations.

Old Wallpaper

Tear the wallpaper into pieces and into shapes that will work for your project.  I created a couple of different piles.  The first pile was larger sized pieces that focused on the individual floral designs.  The second pile was smaller pieces that I could use to fill between the larger pieces and on the edges of the cupboard. 

Then I laid out the torn pieces of wallpaper onto the cupboard so I could get an idea of how I wanted them to be applied.  

Step 3: Apply Mod Podge

I used a paint brush to apply the Mod Podge to a small area of the cupboard.  I then placed the wallpaper onto the Mod Podged area and then applied another coat of Mod Podge over the top of the piece of wallpaper.  You want to ensure that you have Mod Podge under the wallpaper AND on top of the wall paper. 

Applying Mod Podge

Repeat this process until your piece of furniture is completely covered with wallpaper pieces. (Or at least is covered to a degree that you think looks good)

Step 4: Apply Spackle

Once the wallpaper is dry, you want to apply some spackle.  The spackle mimics the look of a plaster wall, which is why I wanted to use it.  In a bowl, I added ¼ cup of spackle and mixed it with some warm water until I got the consistency of pudding. 

Then using the brush, I applied the spackle to the cupboard and around the wallpaper.  I would apply some spackle and then wipe some of it off with a damp rag. 

Cupboard with Spackle

This step  is more of an art than science.  Just keep applying the spackle and wiping it off until you get a look that you like. 

Step 5: Apply Paint

You can really use any paint for this project.  I decided to use milk paint because it gives a more authentic look.  Milk paint creates a texture and patina that other paints do not.  So I mixed up some MMS farmhouse white using a 50:50 ratio:  ½ cup powdered paint and ½ cup of warm water. 

Applying paint

Then, I brushed on the paint over the spackle and used a damp rag to wipe it off.  As with the previous step, just keep applying the paint and wiping it off until you get the look you like. 

Step 5: Apply the Wax

Once the paint was completely dry, I gently sanded the entire cupboard with 220 grit sandpaper and used a dry cloth to wipe away the dust.  Then I applied MMS wax in the color white.  The wax helps to seal the cupboard and offers it a bit of protection.  

Applying White Wax

Instead of applying a wax, you can also apply a Polycrylic -or any of the other water-based sealants available at hardware stores- for added protection.

Final Result

Here are some photos of this wallpaper decoupage project!  I love how this little cupboard turned out.  Feel free to pin any of the images below to your Pinterest account for future reference. 

Wallpaper Decoupage

This little cupboard would be perfect in a powder room.

Wallpaper Decoupage

You can see the side of the cupboard also was covered with the wallpaper.

Wallpaper Decoupage

I also applied wallpaper to the interior of the cupboard.

Wallpaper decoupage

Finally, here is a close up of how the wallpaper looks on the cupboard.

Thank you for stopping by the blog today!  I hope you found some inspiration to create your own wallpaper decoupage project.  If you do, I hope you will share a photo with me. If you like these types of craft projects, you may also enjoy these other posts:

DIY Small Table Makeover

Small Table Makeover

Small Cabinet DIY

Small Cabinet DIY

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  1. Omgggggg this is ADORABLE!!! That wallpaper is STUNNING!! Anna….this is talent. You make it look so easy!!! I love it…it’s the perfect little cupboard for any countertop area! So good. Pinned!

  2. What a great way to use vintage wallpaper! I love this technique and the look it gave this sweet little cabinet! It has so much character now! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hey Meagan! Thanks so much for stopping by and for the kind words! I think it would be perfect in a bathroom too.

  3. Love the way this piece came together, Anna, it’s beautiful! I love how you can use it in so many different ways and personalize it for a specific recipient too. The paper you chose is really pretty and the wax and plaster added just the right touch. I love it all and I’m excited you were able to help fund the library. You nailed it lady! Hugs, CoCo

    1. Thanks CoCo for stopping by and for reading the post. It’s always a great day if I can buy a piece of furniture AND have the money go to a good cause!

  4. Love the wallpaper! I have pieces we removed from our walls when we purchased our home. I have been looking for a way to incorporate the pieces in our home, now I have new inspiration to consider! Thank you for sharing your ideas!

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