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Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

When I first set out to paint this piece, I had some inspiration from a photo that I took at the dentists office (you’ll see it below) – of a brightly colored bird in blues, purples, oranges and pinks. It was going to be amazing, I thought! And it would perfectly match the colors in the decoupage that I had added to the top 3 drawers. Well things didn’t go quite as planned with this dresser makeover so I had to step away and come back again with fresh eyes to be able to see what it was missing. When you watch the YouTube video you’ll see exactly what I mean. So let’s get started on this dresser makeover with decoupage and distressing techniques.

Supply List: What you’ll need for the Dresser Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

* This post may contain affiliate links. If you choose to purchase from one of these links, I could make a commission at no charge to you. Keep in mind, this is everything that I used, but if you don’t need to fix the knobs or do some of the other prep work that I did, you won’t need these items.

Step 1: Cleaning the Dresser before the Makeover

This was a dresser that I already had in my art room and had previously painted for someone, but it was too big. So I kept it and have been using it, but it was missing the color that I love for all of my pieces and I decided now was the time to fix that. Since I was the one who had painted it and I knew what products I had used, I just gave it a good cleaning with White Lightening but if you’re new to painting and you come across a previously painted piece, it’s a good idea to stay away if you don’t know what is under that paint. I stress the cleaning every time I write a blog post because it’s not something you can skip! We can’t get to the Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques until the prep work is done.

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

Cleaning with White Lightening cleaner and a clean rag

Step 2: Adding Rice Paper Decoupage to the Dresser Drawers

These are brand new rice paper sheets by and they’re only available for pre-order right now. This pattern is called Colorful Floral with Black and White and it’s so pretty – bright and colorful with the large flower print. These are really easy to work with and perfect for beginners who haven’t done decoupage before.

Brand new rice paper designs!

Since this piece had been previously painted and the rice paper sheets are quite thin, I painted the drawers first with Sawmill Gravy which is close to white.

Painting the drawers so that the previously painted design doesn’t show through the rice paper.

When that was dry, I lined up the rice paper sheets to make sure that I cut them to just the right size and used my finger to crease where I wanted to cut the sheet.

Using my finger to crease where I need to cut to fit in the space.

Before putting on the rice paper, I applied a coat of Satin Clear Coat which will act as an adhesive for the rice paper. Apply a thin coat before positioning the rice paper.

Applying a thin later of Satin Clear Coat to act as an adhesive for the rice paper.

Then it was time to position the rice paper. Don’t worry about this too much – if you get the positioning wrong, you can lift it and fix it. This product is very forgiving! Once you have it in the right position give it another coat of Satin Clear Coat using a foam brush.

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

Using a foam brush, I applied another layer of Satin Clear Coat overtop of the rice paper.

To add another piece to the same drawer, just cut and match it up. It’s meant to be a continuous pattern and it lines up beautifully. Just take your time and repeat the same steps – clear coat, rice paper and then another clear coat on top.

Take your time and line up the papers so that the patterns match perfectly. Noone will know these are two sheets!

Step 3: When the Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques Doesn’t Go As Planned

As I mentioned above, I was inspired by a photo that I’d seen because of the colors and I thought they would work perfectly with the colors in the decoupage rice paper BUT I was wrong! This is when the Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques didn’t go quite as planned, but it all worked out in the end. Keep reading!

My paint color inspo!

The plan was to apply the colors to random areas on the dresser and blend them together so you can see below all the colors are on, but something is off….

The colors are on so that I can start blending, but something is off….

I started blending on one of the drawers and this is what I called Wrong Turn #1. You can see that they’re just not blending the way that I’d like – it seems to be the blue that isn’t working.

Blending gone wrong!

I decided to cover up the Cobalt Blue with pink and tried blending with Pure Ocean but that turned out to be Wrong Turn #2.

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

I got rid of the Cobalt and added more pink and Pure Ocean but something was still off!

SO! I took all of the blue off of the piece. It wasn’t working and I needed to step back, rethink my process and look at it with fresh eyes later. This is the thing about furniture painting. Not everything works perfectly, the way that you see it in your head. You need to be able to make those mistakes and then learn how to fix them because if you’re working with color you’ll likely have issues like this at some point. I reached out to some friends and the advice was to come back tomorrow and look at it again. So that’s what I did.

Step 4: Taking a Break from the Dresser Makeover

After a good break, I knew what I needed to do. I mentioned that I removed all of the blue and I was now focusing only on adding Daisy, Florida Orange, Peony and Plum Crazy and Colonel Mustard all over the piece. I was then going to blend those colors since they are all complimentary and I knew that they would work well together.

Blending the orange, yellow and pinks.

This blending ended up being much easier than usual because I was working with such similar colors, so for any beginners out there, these types of colors would be a great place for you to start!

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

Blending the colors.

As always I will show you how to blend all of these colors in my how to video. Blending takes practice but I find that when you can see someone doing it, it’s much easier to pick up your own brush and try it and follow along with the instructions.

Step 5: Adding In Some Blues

Once the blending was dry, I wanted to add back in some of the blues that I had taken out and the best way to do that was to dry brush it so that I could control how much paint I put on and how dark I wanted it to be. I started with Pure Ocean, misted the area and dry brushed it with a cheap chip brush and then wiped it back with a clean microfiber cloth.

Drybrushing some Pure Ocean onto the dresser.

I repeated the process with Cobalt Blue in other areas.

Drybrushing with Cobalt Blue

Step 6: Tackling the Top of the Dresser with Paint

The top of the piece was going to tie it all together with some wet distressing! This part is fun and easy and really brings the piece to life.

I started by adding the Pure Ocean in random areas all over the top of the dresser. I wasn’t worried about trying to get it smooth and neat because I was going to be distressing it afterwards.

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

Starting the wet distressing process on the top of the dresser.

Once that was dry, I added all the other colors that I had used on the dresser, again in random areas and then blended and waited for them to dry.

Adding the other colors to the top and blending and waiting until dry for the wet destressing.

Once the top was dry after blending the colors, it was time to wet distress. To do this, I misted the area, used a clean microfiber cloth and wiped across area so that blue started to show through. I went in circles to expose it.

Wet distressing so that the blue base color shows through.

I repeated the process across the top of the dresser and once it was dry (from misting) I applied Easy Peasy Spray Wax.

Dresser Makeover with Decoupage and Distressing Techniques

Sealing the dresser with Easy Peasy Spray Wax

Step 7: Decorating the Black Hardware

The hardware was plain black and I wanted to add color to it so I used Chameleon Wax in Lilac and Gilding Wax in Gold.  They’re oil based so they’re permanent but give it a few days to dry and cure first before you start using it.

Adding oil based waxes to the black hardware to add some dimension.