1 Dresser, 4 Totally Temporary Transformations | Color-Blocked Dresser Using Paintable Wallpaper

A few weeks ago, I set out to give one IKEA Tarva dresser four unique makeovers, all using completely temporary techniques! So far, I’ve used tape, fabric, and vinyl to give this bland piece different looks; and today I’m finishing out the series with a makeover using paintable wallpaper! This fourth makeover was supposed to hit the blog last week, but I encountered quite a few bumps along the way. There were a few days there I wasn’t sure you were going to get a fourth look; but I persevered, and I’m excited to show you (and share what I learned too!). Let’s get to it!

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

This makeover features a color-blocked look achieved with paint, paintable wallpaper and wood veneer edging.

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

The paintable wallpaper provides an interesting texture and a dose of saturated color that could only otherwise be achieved with painting right onto the drawers themselves!

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

The wood veneer “frame” around each wallpaper panel blends with the wooden drawers to give a clean, polished look!

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

To keep the dresser from looking too busy, the knobs were painted to match the panel fronts.

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

The result is a fresh and vibrant look that would be perfect for a child’s room!

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | Wallpaper-Covered Dresser

Catch Up!

Before I dive in and give you all the details about this makeover (all that went wrong and all that went right!), let’s catch up! I started with an IKEA Tarva dresser, of which I assembled and then painted the outside frame white.

IKEA Tarva Hack with Washi Tape

I then gave the dresser a makeover with washi tape, then fabric, then vinyl!

Rugby Striped Dresser With Washi Tape 1 Dresser, 4 Temporary Transformations | How to Make a Fabric-Covered Dresser 1 Dresser, 4 Ways | Vinyl-Covered Dresser

Before starting the fourth and final makeover, I had to peel off all the vinyl decals I so carefully adhered to the dresser. I really didn’t want to because I was so smitten with that look, but I committed to four makeovers and four makeovers I was going to do! Admittedly, I was dreading removing the vinyl, but I was quite pleasantly surprised that it came off relatively easily. I just put on some good music and peeled each piece off one at a time…it was somewhat therapeutic!

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Dresser Prep

With the dresser back into its original state, it was ready for it’s final new look!

How to Apply Paintable Wallpaper to a Dresser

NOTE: As I  mentioned, I encountered A LOT of issues with this makeover process. While I finally landed on a solution that works, I made a lot of wrong turns along the way. I’m going to first show you how you should do this to get good results…and then share with you what I did wrong along the way.

To cover a piece of furniture in paintable wallpaper (as shown), you will need:

For this final makeover, I REALLY wanted to achieve some sort of color-block look. Not only did I think it would look cute, but I really wanted to see if there was a way to paint a piece of furniture without painting it! After considering lots and lots of different options, I decided to give pre-pasted paintable wallpaper a try. I’ve seen it time and time again at hardware stores and on Pinterest projects, I figured it was worth giving it a try! Before getting started, I did a test on the inside of one of the drawers to see if it removed cleanly. Once it did…I was off and running…or so I thought!

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Paintable Wallpaper

Start by measuring your drawers (or whatever surface you want to cover in wallpaper). Using a rotary cutter and long ruler, trim your wallpaper down to the correct dimensions.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Cut Paper to Size

Next, decide on what paints you want to use…

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Green, Blue, Red Paints

…and paint the paintable wallpaper with a brush or roller. Please note that because of the texture, it will take a bit of effort to get good coverage. (Also, it appears the paper is already on the drawer…just pretend that it’s not. I HIGHLY recommend painting your wallpaper BEFORE securing it to your furniture. More on that below.)

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Paint the Paintable Wallpaper

While you’ve got your paint and brushes out, also paint the knobs coordinating/matching colors. I found using wooden skewers and a cardboard box is the perfect setup for painting the knobs and allowing them to dry.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Paint the Dresser Knobs

While the paint dries, you will next trim down the wood veneer edging to frame out the wallpaper panels. Using a utility knife and a ruler, trim down the edging into correct lengths with 45 degree angles on each end. Make sure your longest measurement equals the length/height of your wallpaper panel. For example, my wallpaper panel measured 29.25″ x 8.75″. Therefor, I cut two lengths of veneer edging that were 29.25″ long (from the outermost point) and two lengths that were 8.75″ long.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Trim Wood Stripping

Once the paint on the wallpaper panel is fully dry, use a hot iron and a press cloth to secure the wooden veneer edging all the way around the wallpaper panel, lining up the mitered edges on each corner.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Adhere Wooden Stripping

When complete, you should have a painted wallpaper panel that is fully trimmed out in veneer edging, ready to go onto your furniture piece!

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Secure Paper to Drawer Front

Before securing the panel, make sure your furniture surface is clean and dust-free. Then coat the back of your wallpaper panel with a good coat of re-positionable spray adhesive. Place the wallpaper panel onto your furniture and smooth with a roller or craft brayer. Press firmly to ensure full contact between the paper and the furniture.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Smooth Paper

Once the paper is attached, re-attached your knobs by carefully puncturing holes in the wallpaper with the screw.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Re-Attach Knobs

Repeat on all the drawers (or other surfaces of your furniture piece). When you are done, slide the drawers into your dresser and step back to appreciate your hard work!

Wallpaper-Covered Dressers with Paintable Wallpaper Drawers

Lessons Learned from Working With Paintable Wallpaper

So that tutorial seemed painless enough, but that sure wasn’t the case in real life. I’m actually not even sure where to begin. My original plan was to secure the wallpaper to the drawers according to package directions using water. After testing it, I was sure it would remove, so I proceeding with adhering full wallpaper panels to the fronts of each drawer using water. After it dried however, I was shocked to see all the corners curling up and the paper not sticking to the wooden drawer AT ALL.

Round 1: Fail.

After considering my options (tape, staples), I decided to try re-positionable spray adhesive. I tested it again, and after a few hours of adhering the paper to the drawer fronts, I had no curling and the paper was holding tight. I thought I had found my solution!

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Secure Paper to Drawers with Spray Adhesive

But take a look at the paintable wallpaper after you paint it. See how wrinkled the paper gets…

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Paintable Wallpaper

And the wrinkling was even WORSE on my drawer fronts!!!

Round 2: Fail.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Paintable Wallpaper

I thought for sure I would have to start over…again. But as the paint fully cured, the wrinkles released a bit and I was able to smooth most of them back down with the brayer. I was back in business……until I attached the wooden veneer edging…

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Iron on Wooden Stripping

All was well and good until I came down the next morning to discover that the edging was too strong/rigid for the spray adhesive, and it pulled up off the dresser on almost every side.

Round 3: Fail.

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Wallpaper on Dresser Fronts

I was so determined not to give up on my vision of a removable color-blocked dresser, so I decided to remove the wallpaper+veneer panels (since they were peeling up anyway) and re-attach them. The good thing here is that I can show you that they actually pulled off cleanly without any issue!

Wallpaper-Covered Dresser | Wallpaper on Dresser Fronts

With the panels back off, I sanded down the drawer fronts to remove any sticky residue, then proceeded as I showed in the tutorial above. With the panels painted and the veneer attached and cooled, I then secured the panels to the fronts of the dresser drawers and smoothed them down firm. About 1 day later, they are holding in place pretty well!

Wallpaper-Covered Dressers with Paintable Wallpaper Drawers

So…here are a few things I learned about paintable wallpaper (besides that I’ll never use it again)…

  • I could not get the paper to stick with just using water (remember, it comes pre-pasted so water should have been enough). It probably isn’t meant to be applied to wood, but I have worked with SO many papers and have never run into this issue. With each method I tried, after it fully dried, the corners peeled up.
  • The paper will shrivel and wrinkle when you paint it. Again, I’m not sure it will do this on a wall, but it definitely became a wrinkly mess on my dresser. I was thankful my pieces were small enough (and removable) so I could peel them up and re-smooth them back down to lay flat (which I could do without any issue!)
  • It isn’t easy to get really good color coverage on the paper because of the texture. I had to use a lot of paint to fill in all the nooks and crannies.
  • It tears very, very easily. I’ve worked with a lot of wallpaper; and usually, I am so impressed with how durable it is. I was shocked by how quickly and easily this paper tore.

And a few other things to consider before applying pre-pasted paintable wallpaper to your furniture…

  • Test the paper and the application method to see if 1) it sticks and 2) it damages your furniture. Using water with the pre-pasted paper did not hold on my fully sanded, plain pine dresser. The re-positionable spray adhesive is removable, but didn’t hold the paper to the dresser as tight as I wanted it.
  • Does your dresser have flat, clean surfaces? I originally tried wrapping the paper around the edges and it tore so easily I had to switch to the concept of panels. This paper would be very difficult to use on rounded edges or pieces with lots of details or beveling.
  • This is a fun technique to try on a piece of furniture you don’t really care about. Since it can be a bit finicky and you might need to resort to stronerg adhesives, I wouldn’t try it on Grandma’s antique dresser!

Wallpaper-Covered Dressers with Paintable Wallpaper Drawers

All in all, I think this dresser turned out darling from a visual perspective. I’m just a little tainted because of how hard it was to get here. I really, really, really wanted to show you all an option for painting furniture without really painting it, but the methods required to get the paper to stick might defeat the whole purpose of making it totally temporary. Still, I’ve never worked with paintable wallpaper before, and I really love what I did with the veneer edging, so I can’t call this one a complete fail!

Wallpaper-Covered Dressers with Paintable Wallpaper Drawers

I’d love to know what you all think about this fourth and final makeover! Were the results worth all my efforts? Next week, I’ll be doing a quick recap and opening up a vote so you can tell me your favorites! I’ll be curious to hear which one you all liked best!

Things You Need to Know Before Using Paintable Wallpaper

I hope you guys are having a great week! This Saturday, I’m sharing the tutorial for those DIY towel straps, and I think you guys will love it! See you back here then!

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6 Responses to 1 Dresser, 4 Totally Temporary Transformations | Color-Blocked Dresser Using Paintable Wallpaper

  1. This one turned out great! Despite the time it took to get there! And I laughed out loud at the striked through I will never use it again words. So sorry this turned out so difficult. The finish look turned out fantastic. And so cute. Thanks for sharing all the hard work. And the tips to make it work out without all the extra hard work!

    • So…yea…the paintable wallpaper was a complete and total nuisance. I even think I left out a few other things I tried before getting it to semi-work, lol. But I’ve always been intrigued by the paper when I see it in stores, so now I know not to waste my money again!

      I’ll be so curious to see which makeover everyone liked the most…based on the comments at least…this one was the winner, which is funny since it was such a pain!


  2. Hi Megan
    Well what a hard work you did but the result is wonderful better than if you had painted directly the drawers ! I’m sorry you encountered so many difficulties as the dresser is really lovely. Yes let’s go to the vote, I’m looking forward to knowing the results. I wish you a nice week-end. Michèle

    • I am so glad to hear so many of my readers liked this final makeover…good thing because it was such a pain! Glad it was worth the effort. I’ll have the vote coming up this week so keep an eye out for it!

      Happy Sunday Michèle!

    • Hi Susan!

      You are observant! And I totally forgot to mention that I re-painted the base again in the post, whoops! The Sherwin Williams ProClassic paint (that I used for the outside of the dresser) is such a high quality enamel paint that it covered the red in two coats. Admittedly, I didn’t bother sanding off the red or using primer before adding the white (which I would do for a long-term piece for my home), but so far the coverage has been great and there has been no chipping or peeling!

      Thanks for leaving a comment and hope you’re having a great weekend!

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