Practical things that involve using my hands and that skill called ‘patience’ have never been a specialism of mine, but since becoming a single mum I’ve had no choice but attempt to fix things and decorate our home.

Through doing so I’ve become more confident and open to trying new and creative things on our tight budget. Thankfully I came across some superb and informative groups on Facebook that inspire DIY on a budget and show how to do things frugally.


One of the things that has caught my eye recently is upcycling furniture using chalk paint, and using napkins or wallpaper to decoupage.

I’ve learnt quite a bit about what are the better ways to do these things from the thousands of people who have posted their projects on the groups and by watching YouTube tutorials. This week I finally felt ready to attempt my very first piece-a chest of drawers for my son.

I found some second-hand pine chest of drawers for £15 (which were not fun to lug up five flights of stairs by myself I might add). I got chalk paint from Rustoleum and some free Marvel wallpaper samples from a local hardware shop.

The great thing about chalk paint is that it’s water-based, so there’s no awful fumes which is a necessity for me as I do these things at night in our small flat when my son’s asleep.
It also means that if when I spill it on the floor or on myself, it washes out easily just with soap and water.

So for the bargain price of £15, and a couple of hours per night for 3 days, this is what I managed to achieve:

upcycled chest of drawers marvel decoupage

Like it? I am SOOOOO proud of myself as I think it looks fab!
What’s even better is that there is very little preparation needed and it hardly cost anything with the help of freebies like the wallpaper samples.
Chunk loves them because he loves Spiderman and Ironman, and I’m hoping they will still appeal to him when he is in primary school, but if not I will rip the paper off and upcycle again!

Here’s how I did it:

step by step upcycle and decoupage

Step 1: Prepare the furniture by lightly sanding the wood down. My son enjoyed helping me with this bit! Unscrew the drawer handles so they’re ready for painting.

Step 2: Using a brush or lint-free roller, use the Rustoleum Chalk Paint (I used shade Belgrave) and paint the furniture. Depending on the colour, the chalk paint rarely needs more than one to two coats as you can see in the photos above which is just using one coat.

Step 3: Once the paint has dried (which is impressively fast), do a second coat if needed.

step by step upcycle and decoupage

Step 4: Get a soft cloth or old t shirt and gently rub some Rustoleum Finishing Wax onto the wood in a circular motion. This is to protect the paint from scuffs and damage.

Step 5: Measure and cut the pieces of wallpaper and then prepare some PVA and water (50:50 ratio).

Step 6: Paste the wallpaper up onto the sides and the front of the drawers, and smooth out with a brush or your fingers. You can also line the drawers with wallpaper if you want.

step by step upcycle and decoupage

Step 7: Once dry, use Rustoleum Clear Sealant to ensure all the wallpaper is covered and protected on the unit and the drawers.

Step 8: Once dry, screw the drawer handles back on and voila!

Further tutorials

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be attempting other upcycling and decoupage projects, including Halloween glasses, decoupaging furniture with napkins, and renovating some bedside units in my bedroom, and I will of course be posting tutorials on here.

Let me know any tips or ideas you have, as I love being inspired!

For the purpose of this post, I was sent some Rustoleum products to review. No payment was received. All opinions are honest and my own.

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