Daphne I: Distressed Decoupage

I’d had this writer’s desk for quite some time and was a little unsure of what to do with it, that was until I was gifted some amazing paints from Cornish Milk Paint and an idea blossomed. I wanted a project which I could just throw everything at and this writer’s desk seemed to fit the bill; WoodUbend, paint, Posh Chalk products, stencils, decoupage – you name it, I was going to use it.

We decided to name this delightful decoupage project, Daphne after Daphne Du Maurier, an author and playwright who fell in love with Cornwall. Writers desk, Cornish Milk Paints…it all links in!

First up, was an exercise in colour mapping. I wanted to get some paint onto the surface and begin to bring her to life. I had planned to incorporate decoupage into this design so I had some idea of what colours I would be using, that being said it’s often far too easy just to get carried away. As I had just sanded the desk it was rather thirsty and really soaked up the paint. This was fine though, as I said I was just getting a feel for what I wanted to do, sparring if you will.

When undertaking projects like these it’s all too often a case of ‘best-laid plans’, Daphne took a few twists and turn on her journey to becoming the boho behemoth she is now. So I had my first coat on and still toying around with a few ideas of where to take this project, one thing was for certain though…it was going to be eye-catching.

I had opted for darker tones on the front, this isn’t always conducive to decoupage, ideally, you want to put your paper over lighter colours, it helps the design stand out. So Daphne got a quick coat of white paint where the decoupage was going to sit.  Another technique I’ve been playing around with recently is putting the decoupage over crackle. I find that it gives the whole design depth and really adds to the overall look.


The whole point of decoupage is for the paper to look like it belongs on your design, with this in mind, it’s always good to tear the edges of your paper, creating a rough border. The eyes are naturally drawn to straight edges so we want to avoid them standing out. In addition to this, often you want to be blending your paint into the colours of the paper.

When laying my paper I used a top coat sealer to stick the decoupage down, gently pressing it down with some cling film (or saran wrap if you’re not British). I was left with some creases once the paper was down and dried, this was exactly what I was going for. To complement the crackle, I wanted to distress the decoupage a little, so sanding down the creases before treating with a little wax really emphasised that aged look.

Sanding down decoupage paper, half of the paper is distressed whilst the other half is still to be done

My trusty sandy hand is such a great tool for this, one side has detachable hand-shaped sandpaper in varying grit. Slip the glove on and go to work! Magic!

How do we make decoupage look like it’s always been a part of the piece? Match the colours! This particular design had a number of colours to be going at so I had to be at the top of my blending game if this was going to look spectacular (spoiler, it was).

Before I broke out my paint brushes though, I first had to frame the decoupage with WoodUbend! I’d prepainted my mouldings and kept to the dark colour scheme I’d originally planned. If you’ve got a flexible paint, then pre painting your mouldings is a great idea, it saves you fighting to get into all the nooks and crannies of the mouldings once they’ve been stuck on the surface.

Daphne with decoupage framed with WoodUbend which had been pre painted in a dark green

Framing the decoupage with WoodUbend works well to further break down the fringes of the paper, helping tie the whole piece together.

Now, you may notice that none of these design have been particularly bent around a contour, this doesn’t mean however that you still don’t need to heat them. Heat is always your friend with WoodUbend (a rhyming couplet Daphne would be proud of), it ensures that you get a great adhesion to the surface as it’s rare both the mouldings and the surface your working with will be totally flat. In addition to this, the heat helps the mouldings soak up the wood glue, again giving you a really good adhesion to the surface.

Don’t miss out on our blog next week when Daphne will knock back a few cocktails and get dolled up in her most outlandish colours! Maybe even a stencil or two!!

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   SollyJo WoodUBend