Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How to Use Fabric to Dress up your Furniture

Have you ever used fabric as an accent for an all wood piece of furniture? Not for upholstery, but to make it even more "Wow!"? I hadn't until I had an "uh-oh" that needed to be strategically covered up and paint wasn't doing the trick. Fabric to the rescue!

I was given this desk from some friends that were moving out of state. They keep everything in impeccable condition, so when they asked if I wanted a desk to redo I quickly said "Yes!" They kept insisting that I see it before I committed, but I knew I wanted it. When I saw it I realized that the color was a little outdated, but it seriously looked like it had just been taken home from the showroom. I hated to redo it when it was already so nice. However, when they said "We can't wait to see what you end up doing with it!" I knew that I couldn't just keep it as is.

First things first, I Facetimed my sister in California, where a lot of my initial design ideas come from. She said:
  1. Take off the two sliding cupboard fronts on the hutch
  2. Take out the CD rack (hard to see but it is to the immediate left of the cupboard on the right
  3. Rip out all of the dividers on the hutch
  4. Replace the knobs
  5. Remove the keyboard pull out area since many people no longer use them
Well since she can tend to be dramatic and isn't the one doing the work, I combined her ideas with some of mine. I liked the dividers on the hutch, but the CD rack needed to go, and that meant that the divider by it would now look really off-center, so that had to be ripped out as well. Easier said than done. That puppy was in there good, and there were no signs of nails or screws holding it in there.

After partially destroying the area surrounding that divider, I was able to use a sledgehammer and bang it out. Three little staples finally gave way...they were the culprits for making the removal so difficult.

I should have taken a picture of how much I had chipped away on the shelf, but I didn't. I went right to work and filled in this giant gap/line with wood putty, as well as the holes and lines that were there to hold the CD rack in place as well as a shelf I would no longer be using.

When the putty was dry, I sanded it down flush with the wood, and then sanded the entire piece down using 220 grit so that the paint would adhere. I then wiped it all down with TSP substitute (even though a little soap and water would have been fine considering how clean this piece already was). I sprayed everything using my Wagner sprayer with Zinnser primer and let it all dry for an hour.

I then loaded my sprayer with a gray semi-gloss latex paint by Behr that I bought for $2 when I was at Home Depot. Gotta love people not being happy with a color and HD having to discount it to get rid of it. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the color since it was painted over before I bought it. (Just as an FYI, I used about 2/3 of a quart to paint the hutch and desk.)

This is what the hutch looked like after painting. I was planning on leaving it as is, but then if you look closer at my putty repair job I realized that the paint was not totally hiding it....

Dang it. Now what to do? Thankfully necessity breeds invention (isn't that how the saying goes?) and I had to think of a solution.

I had heard of people using wrapping paper or wallpaper and mod-podging it on. Several pieces I have seen on Pinterest look awesome with this method. I hit Target, Hobby Lobby, Home Goods, and a few other stores, but no wrapping paper looked like what I wanted. While at Hobby Lobby I had seen some fabric that looked promising, and because of not lucking out in the wrapping paper department (and I didn't want to buy a huge amount of wallpaper, or spend $20 for fancy wrapping paper) I decided to try Hobby Lobby again. As I was perusing the geometric/flowery printed fabric I saw this French patterned fabric that looked like just what I wanted. It would match my paint, but give just enough of a pop. It was feminine but not too girly, and didn't have a lot of colors that would be hard for a person to use in their decor. I bought a yard and a half and crossed my fingers it would work.

I measured each spot. Then measured again. I cut the pieces out, sprayed some spray adhesive on the back of each piece (I had it on hand but it is a few dollars at Walmart and other craft stores). I placed each piece one at a time making sure to remove air bubbles, and let it dry. In the areas that would be getting a lot of wear and tear I did two coats of mod-podge over the fabric. Once the mod-podge was dry, I used my 220 grit sandpaper and very lightly wiped away the "crustiness" so that the fabric felt fairly smooth.

I then proceeded to put back up the two side shelves and noticed something. Uh-oh, one of the shelves was too short and not wide enough. I was missing one of the shelves that came with the desk. After some deliberation I decided to use my table saw and cut the keyboard tray (I was no longer using) to be the new shelf. The keyboard tray was the exact thickness as the other shelf on the other side, so it was perfect.
 I added wood putty to smooth out the dense particle board the shelf was made out of and then painted it. Unfortunately it didn't look too hot. Fabric to the rescue again! I cut two strips of fabric to adhere to the front of each of the two shelves (even though only one needed it).

And then voila!

What at first was a problem (the poor putty job), became the solution to making this piece AWESOME! Isn't that life for you? Our obstacles and challenges tend to become blessings in the end. So here she is in all of her glory:

I bought the knobs at Hobby Lobby too. Hobby Lobby has their knobs and pulls at 50% off every 3 weeks or so. Each of these little guys were originally $3.99 and so about $2 a knob post discount. Not a bad price eh? The price beats Home Depot's hardware pricing and they are way cute!

Isn't the Eiffel Tower and French script so pretty? I keep going to stare at the desk and sighing a sigh of happiness.

All in all the desk cost me:
  • Paint: $2
  • Mod-podge: $5 (barely used any of it)
  • Fabric: $7
  • Knobs: $6
  • Spray adhesive $2 (could have used mod-podge too, just went the easy route)
Total: $22

I just listed it to sell and as soon as it sells I will let you know what it sold for. I love watching "Flip or Flop" on HGTV and love how they tell you what they paid to redo the house, what they sell it for and in the end if it was a "flip" or "flop". I will try to start doing that for all of you so you can decide if flipping furniture is worth it or not. I can tell you right now that if you don't have a passion for it it isn't worth it, but if you have read this far already and you don't have a passion for furniture redos, well then you just wasted a ton of your time reading :).

So what do you think? Have you used fabric or wrapping paper for a piece of furniture before? If so, what did you use? Any comments or questions make my day so please say hello, ask a question or share some tips!



  1. That is amazing. Seriously. Great job. The fabric is just right!

    1. Thank you Jennifer! Who'd have thought fabric on a desk, right?

  2. Love this idea....looks great! I'm going to be repainting a dresser and was going to stencil but I think I will try this instead. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Great to hear from you! Having done stencils on furniture before I have to say that the fabric option is easier (& I like how it looks better) . Good luck on your dresser!


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