You could earn SmartPoints on this page!SmartPoint Coin

August 9, 2013 at 8:00 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

DIY With Decoupage

By Rachael Ellen More Blogs by This Author

Hi-ho, hi-ho, off to college I go! As the summer begins to tip over it’s  half way mark, I can’t help but start getting excited for the fall. Everything is about to change. The college scene will be a welcomed challenge, but, of course, moments of sudden, extreme panic have already started to reveal themselves.

After a disappointing dorm room assignment (you can’t win ‘em all), I have a new task placed before me, involving taking a smaller than expected, tiny little area and transforming it into a kitchen, bedroom, office, and living room. The kicker? I still have a roommate to account for.

Oh boy.

Thank my lucky stars that the dorms come semi furnished, but in the university’s graciousness, one very important piece was left out. Our dorm is missing a kitchen table.

I can understand why they didn’t include it, our “kitchen space” is a single wall of counters and cupboards, outlined as a differential space solely by the linoleum that runs parallel with the neutral carpet. Honestly, a table and chairs wouldn’t fit.

However, I refuse to spill my Ramen noodles on my homework, so a kitchen table became my next project for a dorm room addition.

Where to Look

As my other blogs have stated, second hand shopping is my jam. It seemed an obvious choice to begin my search in Grandville, Michigan’s Changing Thymes. While looking, I knew that the piece had to be practical to fit my small space. That’s when I spotted it.

Painted black with a laminate top and a claw-foot leg design, a small, dining table caught my eye instantly. It was oozing pa-zaz.

But it got better.

Upon closer inspection, I found the top of the table was latched into place, meaning that the table was able to be unlatched to swing into a vertical position, allowing it to store easier.

That’s all it took and I was hooked. Fifty dollars later, the table was loaded into the back of my Chevy Malibu, ready to start it’s journey to college.


Functional? Check. The table had blown away my expectations, giving a larger table space than originally thought possible,  but the look of it? Not so hot. The black paint job on the bottom of the table  swooping over the legs was not the problem. It was just the neutral I needed. The laminate top, however, was a different story. Although the laminate provided a perfectly practical protector, it was butt ugly. The grain’s fake fopa was even more distinguished by the ugly, dead-colored undertone. After consulting my roommate Stephanie, we decided to keep the neutral black color of the table, but make it just a bit sexier.

What You’re Gonna Need:

Creating A Sexy Table

1.) Yes, a table can be sexy. With it’s great lines and pre-painted dark colors, my little table was already looking fine. But the DIY I knew would take this simple piece and make it something special.

The black base didn’t need to be redone (why create more work for myself?), but it needed a cover coat of polyurethane to seal it and add a little bit of shimmer. Before I even began painting, I wiped down the table with a dry cloth to remove all dust and dirt.

2.) Once the table was clean, I grabbed a one inch paint brush and started lathering  polyurethane as a first coat over the original black paint. To achieve the look I wanted, I ended up doing two coats. Already, we were getting somewhere.

Once the table’s base was beautiful, it was time to attack the top. With a laminate table top, using regular paint to cover the unattractive “wood” finish would be a nightmare. Thanks to laminates glossy and slick composition, the paint would begin to chip and peel soon after its application.

Here, we introduce our decoupage.

First Things First

Decoupage, for those new to the DIY scene, is simply the application of paper cutouts to the surface of something, whether it be a table or a flower pot. Decoupage has been around since the early 18th century in Europe and has been a popular trend in recent design styles.

1.) To begin decoupaging, once again take out the trusty, dusty rag. Other decoupagers have used a cleaner such as TSL on their piece before starting... I just decided to skip that step and rely on the rag.

2.) The trick to decoupage is the timing and the amount of glue. For my table, I used Mod Podge (available at your local Hobby Lobby or Staples and offered in different sheens) and my paint brush again. I applied a thin layer of the Mod Podge and fanned it with one of my papers to allow it some quick dry time.

3.) After a few seconds, I began laying down my paper. Once each piece was individually laid, I flattened it to the table top with my finger, applying pressure to the outside corners and then to the center, working my way around the outline of the cut-out.

4.) After  every piece had been laid and flattened, I  let the Mod Podge dry.

5.) Once the Mod Podge dried, I painted another layer of the Mod Podge over the paper. Some intense thumb twiddling and Pinterest stalking later, the layer began to dry.

6.) When the first coat of paper covering Mod Podge dried, she needed one more coat. Again, I had to sit back, drink a cold one (a Diet Coke people, calm down) and wait for the second application to dry.

Let’s Finish Her Up!

The final step was to add a sealer to the table! FINALLY.

Sealer of choice: that good ole polyurethane once again! With the piece nicely dried from the Mod Podge, it was time to lather her up with a couple final coats of polyurethane for protection and shine.

PHEW! Hours later, I have finally reached the end of the climactic challenge of the decoupaged dorm room table, and it looks fantastic!

Thanks to my experience, I see more DIY Decoupage popping up in future design endeavors.

More from Rachael Ellen Others Are Reading


  • Very cute checkered effect! Have the appliques been holding up?

  • Surprisingly, yes! As much as I love DIY projects, sometimes they don't always cooperate... Thankfully, the paper is holding steady! And you know what? At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to do the checkered look, but I think it turned out alright. Thanks Erin!

Comment on the Smart Living Network

THRIVE Email Newsletter from HelloLife®

Subscribe to the THRIVE Newsletter

Site Feedback