Make & Do: Jodie’s Brilliant Bureau Makeover

Up-cycling her old Bureau 'Beatrix', we join Jodie on the blog for a step-by-step guide to giving your old piece of furniture and new lease of life... read more

We love a good up-cycling project, so when Jodie from A Handmade Cottage got in touch interested in giving her old bureau a new lease of life, we just had to lend a helping hand! With a good lick of paint and a bit of creativity, an old piece of furniture can be completely revamped and really help lift a room. Jodie’s Bureau ‘Beatrix’ was lacking any impact and was slowly losing sight at the back of her room, so she started the the somewhat mammoth task of transforming it into something special. Intrigued? Read on for the full make and do and some handy top tips…

1. Cover pic This week I transform my old writing bureau ‘Beatrix.’ Despite her loveliness she really did darken our little corner somewhat, so with a little help from Laura Ashley I transformed her. I used two different colours from the Laura Ashley furniture paint range; Dove grey (which I love, it’s a really subtle shade) and cotton white. I also decoupaged some of the panels inside using the Summer palace taupe / ivory floral wallpaper. I love antiques in their natural state but the transformation has really lightened up our living space, and given Beatrix a new lease of life. Isn’t she looking lovely?

2before-after - bureau
You Will Need:

Wallpaper – Laura Ashley Summer palace taupe / ivory floral wallpaper
Laura Ashley furniture paint in Cotton White and Dove Grey
Undercoat / Primer in white
Fine / Medium Sandpaper
Clear soft Briwax Wax
PVA glue – Matt Finish
Paint Brushes
Lint-Free Cloth

3 paint pic

Step 1: Preparing The Furniture

Remove all hinges and knobs and then sand the furniture lightly. You needn’t strip it completely, just give it a once over, smoothing any lumps and bumps, and it will help the paint stick.
TIP: Sanding after every coat of paint is crucial for a nice smooth finish.

4 - prepping

Step 2: Priming & Painting

Apply your first coat of undercoat / primer to the furniture (see top right) Once dry, give a light sanding. Then apply your first colour – If you’re transforming something dark you might want to apply a couple of coats of primer before your topcoat. However, as I am using two different colours I applied only ONE coat of primer, followed by TWO coats of Dove grey, and TWO coats of cotton white furniture paint to the front and sides, leaving the inside grey. I also gave the hinges two coats of cotton white at this point. After each coat of paint, I gave it a light sanding to smooth out the streaky lines caused by the paintbrush. You can see in the bottom-right picture below just how much the lines from the paintbrush can show up before it’s been sanded. When it’s smooth to touch apply your next coat.

5 Painting

Step 3: Distress Your Furniture

Once the paint is completely dry it’s time to distress! Here are a few tips on distressing your furniture. Using fine/medium sandpaper, start distressing the main edges and corners first, as these are areas that would wear naturally … then you can start to pick out detail. I found rubbing lightly-but-evenly over the embossed drawer with fine sandpaper really brought out the pattern (see pic below).

Two contrasting colours work really well. I used a dove grey underneath the white to give the bureau depth of colour – so when I sand a little, the grey will start to show though. Once you’ve finished distressing, give your painted hinges / knobs a sanding too, then give it all good dust down, and apply your wax with a soft lint-free cloth. Rub it into the grain then once dry, give it a good buff.

6 distressing

Step 4: Decoupaging Furniture

Measure the width and length of each area you need to cover … then cut your paper to size. Measuring the wallpaper can be tricky so measure twice cut once, as my dad always says. Decoupaging can often result (frustratingly) in wrinkles and bubbles. This has happened to me on numerous occasions, but after some digging around I have found the solution and it’s worked perfectly for me every time since. Here’s the trick in three simple steps:

1. Apply a thin coat of the glue directly to the furniture – making sure you cover all edges and corners.
2. Lay your paper gently in place but do not press down! Take a clean, dry cloth and smooth the paper down from the centre outwards. Do one side, then the next … repeat every 30 secs or so.
3. Once the wallpaper is completely dry, then apply another thin layer on top of the wallpaper – this should ensure a smooth bubble-free finish. TIP: A thick, wet layer of glue results in wrinkles, a thin tacky layer, does not.

7 decoupaging bureau

… and there we have it! You’ll notice the difference in colour is subtle and a little hard to see in these photo’s but I’m really pleased with the finish of this piece. I highly recommend Laura Ashley furniture paint, and much prefer it to eggshell … it has nice even coverage and lovely finish. Finally, here are my top tips for this make-over are:


When painting – always sand in between coats

Invest in a good paintbrush – it will make all the difference

When decoupaging – always use a very thin layer of glue

Get help – If you want to achieve this in a weekend, get another pair of hands to help, you’ll need it! (A special thanks to Mummykins and Buster the dog).

8 - Bureau after
9 - Bureau after

10 - Bureau after 11 - Bureau after 12 - Bureau after 13 - Bureau after 14 - Bureau after

A big thanks to Jodie for sharing her stunning up-cycling project with us! Have you got a piece of furniture you up-cycled with Laura Ashley paints and /or wallpaper? We’d love to see your DIY’s! Tweet us @LauraAshleyUK

One Comment

Hi love this. I am about to start mine. On the bureau latch that comes down it has a kind of writing sponge leather. Hard to describe what do I do to revamp this? Thanks

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