Transform Your Furniture with Wallpaper

Transform Your Furniture with Wallpaper

Abby Stone
Oct 12, 2010

Why limit wallpaper to your walls? Take a page from English artisan Bryonie Porter who wallpapers furniture ranging from simple tables to chests of drawers — she's even wallpapered a piano!

If you plan to wallpaper your furniture, start with something simple. For example, you might want to:

  • Wallpaper the back of your bookshelves. If you've just bought a new Billy bookcase, wallpapering the back piece before you attach it will make your life a whole lot easier.
  • Wallpaper the fronts of a chest of drawers. Unscrew the knobs, apply your wallpaper, reattach the knobs.
  • The top of a small table is a great place for a favorite piece of wallpaper.
  • Or try it on a cabinet's doors. It's also nice to have the surprise of wallpaper inside a cabinet's doors.
  • Or apply your wallpaper to the insets of a door.
  • A piece of wallpaper simply slid under a piece of glass quickly transforms a tabletop. I particularly like this look on a desk.

If you want to take your ambitions further remember, square, linear pieces — IKEA's Lack tables and West Elm's Parson's desks are two pieces that would take especially well to the wallpaper treatment — are easier to work with than curvy furniture. Make a pattern, using tissue paper or newspaper, for the piece you want to cover. Use that pattern to cut into your wallpaper. If you must fit wallpaper around a curve, dampen it to give it more pliability. (Because water may cause a color change, test its effects on your wallpaper first. Used wet, you can get wallpaper to mold itself to your curviest bits of furniture but you'll want to treat the entire piece that way so that it looks even).

On a piece that gets a lot of use, consider finishing it with a coat of acrylic or polyurethane. (Again, test out how this will affect the color of your wallpaper before just slapping it on. If there's a large color change, you might want to consider using spray lacquer which, while it may not offer the protection of a brush on, is fine for a piece that sees minimal wear and tear.)

Wallpaper is a great option for a piece that has some type of surface damage that prevents you from considering other treatments. Unlike with some of the more obvious options, like paint or stain, here's a place where you can let your imagination run a little wild. A pattern that you might be reluctant to commit to covering your walls with, can transform a boring, even ugly item into a cool conversation piece. Try a floral nightstand with a striped duvet, an exuberant Chinoiserie paper on the credenza in your Hollywood Regency dining room or Cole & Sons iconic birch tree wallpaper wrapped around the coffee table in a mid century living room.

Check out this post to see one reader's successful experience using wallpaper on her desk's and nightstand's drawer fronts!

Image: Bryonie Porter

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