Saturday, January 12, 2013

Union Jack Retro Dresser

As per usual, it's taken me a little while to catch up with the hot *new* "Union Jack" trend.  Better late than never? 

Here's my contribution!

The waterfall dresser needed some work before the flag could be laid... I had to fix past water damage to the dresser resulting in peeling and missing veneer along with bubbling and ill-fitting drawers.


The veneer issues were fixed with a healthy dose of paintable wallpaper (awesome for creating some visual appeal and saving a lot of time patching and sanding) and some extra nails in the right places. Here's an example of a nail in the WRONG place. No wonder the drawers had a hard time closing and sliding! Who would do that??

The drawers were whipped (and hit...and pressured) into shape. A little wood glue and elbow grease solves a multitude of problems!
After all the fix ups, she was ready for her first treatment. I like to use plain old white glue when applying wallpaper or other decoupage pieces to furniture. I'll also use Mod Podge...but only on soemthing that needs extra attention. Rolling on the glue with a roller brush helps to give an thin even coat and prevent air bubbles.

Applying any kind of paper is best done carefully and slowly, rubbing out bubbles and wrinkles as you go. I like to keep my paper rolled up (it keeps it easier to handle) and only unroll the portion I need as I go.

I also measure the width of my surface to find the midpoint and make sure that I centre the pattern of my wallpaper in the middle - nothing worse than off-centre patters!

After the wallpaper was applied, it was time for the first coat of homemade chalk paint. As an aside on homemade chalk paint (I make mine with Plaster of Paris): some folks worry about the 'lumps' or 'bits' in their paint. I often strain these out of my newly mixed batch using the leg and foot of an old nylon stocking. The nylon catches the larger lumps and gives the paint a much smoother consistency. The grit of the paint sands away after it's dry.
I use a projector for images as much as I can.  Here, I taped off the white stripes ONLY using the help of my projector.  You could do this using *shudder* GEOMETRY *shudder* but that causes me to have bad flashbacks of high school math class, so I try to avoid it at all costs. 
Once I'd taped off the white stripes, I painted them using three coats of chalk paint in an off-white colour.  I didn't wait for them to completely dry before removing the tape.  Most of the lines were clean and I only had to do minor touch ups.  Then it was like a puzzle...I only had to paint in the blue and red triangles and voila!  A Union Jack flag without ANY math!  I have a pretty steady hand so painting in the triangles of colour wasn't too challenging for me - if you feel more comfortable (and have much more patience than me), you can tape off each individual triangle - but you have to wait for the paint to completely dry on the other parts of the design before taping.  Boooooring. 

After painting, I distressed the drawers and sides of the dresser. I wanted to give it a 'war worn' appeal. I may have just seen Les Mis and may have been inspired; now the French probably don't like me very much. Quelle dommage.

I splurgged and bought a tin of Varathane floor varnish. This stuff is AMAZING. It's ubber durable and doesn't yellow. I love it. Buy some.
There is a small flag detail on the top drawer of the dresser.  It is a colour print-out of a Union Jack flag that I Mod Podged on and then painted to look distressed like the lower drawers. 
The hardware is reused from another project and painted with black Rustoleum spray paint.  I often do 'batches' of hardware at a time so it's ready when I need it. 
There she is - ready to "Keep Calm and Party On!"


  1. I love this! I came across it because I have a waterfall vanity with peeling veneer and the paintable wallpaper is just the thing AND it is gorgeous!

    1. Perfect! If you`re looking for a great series of tutorials on how to deal with veneer (chips, peels, bubbles etc.) check out this link:
      It`s a 4-part series, so just do a search for `veneer` on that blog and the other posts should come up. Good luck!