How To: Give Old Furniture a Colorful, Patterned Makeover with Wallpaper

by on Oct 9, 2013

Vintage school desk before getting renovations.

Let’s say you find an old piece of furniture at your local thrift store: it has great bones but the finish has seen better days (sound familiar?). You know you can do something awesome with it, but what? All-over paint? A new stain? Boring!

Instead, bring it back to life with this colorful, pattern-tastic DIY idea from ModCloth! Whether you choose to go bold or keep it subtle, this technique allows for nearly infinite customization and creativity. Ready to get started? Let’s go!       

Here’s what you’ll need:

"Things to Make beautiful wall using Wallpaper"


  • Thrifted desk or table
  • Temporary wallpaper trimmings from your latest project
  • Paint
  • Craft glue or Polyurethane
  • Sanding block or sand paper
  • Utility knife
  • Tape
  • Brushes
  • Scissors


"Makeover of Old Furniture with Colorful WallPaper"

1) Prepare your desk by cleaning away the cobwebs and sanding any sketches, etchings, or edges smooth. Once finished, use a towel to wipe away any dust and debris.

A man spray painting an old wooden school desk.

2) Paint your piece with your favorite spray or brush-on paint. We chose a brilliant gold to match the motif on our wallpaper, but, a cool pastel might offer some clever contrast. Our project required two cans of paint, which yielded two complete coats on the desk and its shelf. Remember to paint and finish your desk in a well ventilated area!

"Patterned Makeover of an Old Furniture with Wallpaper"

3) After selecting the perfect wallpaper scraps to fit the desktop and seat, tape each piece down to carefully trace the edges. Use scissors to trim any excess paper, then confirm that each piece has the perfect outline.

Patterned Makeover of an Old Furniture Colorful with Wallpaper"

4) Remove the backing and fasten the wallpaper to each surface, smooth bubbles with a card or another flat tool. Don’t forget that temporary wallpaper can be removed and reapplied, so you can take a second try if an angle seems a bit off.

A person's hand drawing on the back of a beige chair.

5) Trim away the wallpaper over any details using a utility knife. We chose to expose the gold-painted bolts that adorn the seat and slats.

A man using a sponge brush to apply wallpaper to an old school desk.

6) Apply your finish with a brush, allowing for it to dry between coats. We gave our desk two coats of poly across all of the patterned surfaces, which sealed the wallpaper permanently. You could also use that Mod Podge that’s in your craft supplies.

Things sit on a small desk in a grey room with a wooden floor.

7) Find the perfect spot in your foyer!

Check out more DIY ideas and lifestyle inspiration on the official ModCloth blog: STORY by ModCloth.

About: Fashion is full of stories, and this is where we tell ours. Story by ModCloth is a smartly crafted blog filled with the best and brightest of fashion and culture, and is your place for all things ModCloth. We believe in community-driven content, the art of storytelling, and are always on the hunt for our next feature.

Thanks ModCloth!

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