Dressers and Vanities

Family Heirloom Furniture Gets New Life With Paintable Textured Wallpaper

Marian K reached out for the perfect option to reclaim treasured family heirloom furniture with textured paintable wallpaper technique. Through many well used decades, this dresser and matching night stand have become the perfect candidates for a recovery makeover. This pair belonged Great Grandma! Let’s make them wow again for a few more decades of love!


Yep, that’s textured wallpaper on the drawers! The carnival stripes on the top drawer just makes ya smile. The paper clay embellishment adds a touch of glamour and the wallpaper texture is royal! I did this piece in 2019 based on inspiration from Brushed by Brandy in a Drab to Fab 80’s dresser.

Pre-Prep Work

Prep before the prep involves getting the drawers to glide properly. After a million slides, the drawer runners wear down. This causes misaligned drawers to rub against the body of the dresser. If not addressed before painting, it will ruin a great makeover. To do this, I look for rubbing marks on the sides and drawer bottom area. After makeover, a rub of bar soap on glide surfaces reduces friction and make smooth operation.

A tongue depressor is added to glide surface to lift the drawer back into position for proper clearance with the drawer.

After some drawer edge sanding and cleaning, this piece is ready for priming.

Can I be done with prep now?

Apply Wallpaper

Wallpaper size is calculated leaving 1/8th inch clearance on the left/right drawer edges and 1/2″ clearance top/bottom. I’ll explain why in the next photo. Position the paper exactly was desired. Only on the left side, tape the paper into place with painters tape (easy to remove). Peel back the un-taped side and glue down. Remove the tape from the left side, peel it back and glue it down. Watch for air bubbles and be sure to leave no glue gap in the middle.

I used a slightly diluted mix of Elmer’s glue. It’s not too thick to be goopy but not so thin to be runny.

The reason for the 1/2″ clearance helps to distinguish the drawers on this piece that had NO separation between them. Scroll up to the two inspiration photo’s to see the dresser bodies have drawer separators or bars between them. This dresser has only one under the top drawer. Had the wallpaper been cut without the top/bottom clearance, it would have looked like one big sheet of paper slapped on.

Add Some Bling Using Paper Clay Details

Teaser shots . . . .

Add Some Glaze for Drama

4 parts Floetrol to 1 part paint makes glaze that doesn’t dry so fast and gives plenty of time to manipulate.

Add Some Happy Paint Stripes

Stripes take on a little more sophistication over glazed paint. The glaze breaks up the contrast between two colors and gives it some vintage. Besides, having glazed over the textured wall paper, solid stripe colors just wouldn’t look unified with the rest of the piece.

Address the Hardware

Marian lucked out with an original piece adorned with Hepplewhite hardware. It is a sign of quality. Not always is original hardware a good fit for a makeover but Hammered Pewter spray paint and silver Rub N Buff give some meat to these bones. A vinegar and water soak and a 3m pad removes decades of environmental build up.

Ready to Show Off

Textured wallpaper on furniture

Before and After

And The Secretary Makes a Set