Upcycled Welsh Dresser – How to Transform with Paint and Wallpaper

a welsh dresser painted dark blue with a wallpaper background in the kitchen

I wouldn’t say I’m the world’s best painter or upcycler, in fact, I can be a bit slapdash at times. But what I do love is seeing the potential of an old, unloved piece of furniture being given a new lease of life.

I enjoy the thrill of going to a charity shop or car boot sale, wading through all the old DVDs, moth-eaten clothes, and unwanted glassware, and finding a beautiful piece of mahogany furniture crying out for a new home in the corner. This newly upcycled Welsh dresser was perfect for this corner of our kitchen!

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How the dresser looked originally after I had rescued it from a charity shop

I picked up this mahogany Welsh dresser from a charity shop for £60 around 3 years ago and it was still in really good condition. The wood grain and varnish were like new and it had detailed engraving on the drawers.

It had just fallen out of fashion and as the color scheme in our kitchen at the time was white and grey (you can see what our kitchen looked like originally in this blog post), I decided to upcycle it by painting it grey with a wallpaper background after looking at Welsh dresser ideas online.

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Our painted dresser in the kitchen. I liked how the Hague Blue wall provided a contrasting background for the dresser.

The thing with gray though, and especially on a dresser in the kitchen, is that it totally lost the battle with all the stains and general grime that comes with a busy kitchen! It was upcycled in a chalky color as well which made matters worse and I was consistently repainting it.

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The wallpaper background
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Starting to look very grubby!

That was until Dulux got in touch with me and asked if I had any potential upcycle projects I could work on for their Wood Trim campaign. I had toyed with the idea of painting my kitchen units dark blue numerous times (and as we have now sold the house, will never get around to doing so), so I knew the upcycled dresser would be the perfect project to please my darker unit obsession.

I also felt a darker blue color would look better with the B&Q wallpaper I had fixed to the back of the Welsh dresser. 

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The B&Q wallpaper at the back of the Welsh dresser. Unfinished as I ran out of wallpaper and just hid it behind plates. See, I told you I was slapdash!

After trying a few sample pots of Dulux color on the dresser, I decided to go with their Satinwood in Sapphire Salute. I love the richness of the dark blue and it wasn’t too dissimilar to the walls so it helped tie the colour scheme together.

But, by painting the dresser dark blue, I realized I needed to paint the wall behind it white or it would have just blended into non-existent.

Dulux also provided me with a large pot of pure brilliant white and after painting this corner of the kitchen, I realized how much fresher and lighter it made it feel. This corner had always felt quite dark, and a little grubby in all honestly, so it had vastly improved the space already.

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First coat of Dulux Pure Brilliant White going on and already this space feels fresher.
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The dresser also looks happier against the white
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So, with this corner of the kitchen painted, I set about prepping the upcycled dresser ready to be freshened up. 

What I Used to for the Upcycled Dresser

Plan Your Upcycle

Before you start the upcycled dresser, you need to decide where it is going and what is the color scheme in that room. As my dresser was already in the kitchen, I decided to go with dark blue, and originally, I was going with the same geometric wallpaper. Unfortunately, when I went to B&Q to get some more wallpaper to finish the dresser, they no longer stocked it, so I needed to look at more upcycled Welsh dresser ideas. 

I ran a little poll on my Instagram stories asking people which wallpaper I should go with and the majority of people went for the GoodHome Ferula Blue tropical leaves wallpaper. The blue in the botanical leaves is perfect for the room and I love the hint of mustard and gold.

It’s All In the Prep

As I’d already upcycled the dresser before, I didn’t need to do much prep. Originally, I removed the hinges and door knobs (the ones I could remove, some of them were properly welded on and not much use removing) and then sanded the dresser down so it was smooth and the grain of the wood would be able to hold the paint. 

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Using very fine sandpaper to leave a smooth finish on the dresser.
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Personally, when it comes to upcycled wood, I don’t think you need a primer but it all depends on how smooth a finish you want and most paint companies do advise you to use primer when you are painting bare wood. A primer will give you a cleaner finish as it will fill in scratches and dents, but I didn’t use one with the dresser.

After sanding down the dresser, I gave it a thorough clean with sugar soap to get all the grease and dirt off and then you are ready to start painting.

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Painting the Welsh Dresser

As with painting the wall, if you feel the need to use frog tape to prevent you from painting over a different section, then go for it. Again, I personally don’t feel the need for frog tape as I use a small paintbrush to slowly paint a line along the border.

I started the upcycle by painting the big sections with Satinwood Sapphire Salute and finished with a very fine paintbrush to go around the handles and hinges that I couldn’t take out.  

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The first coat going on the drawers.
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The first coat on
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Painting around the hinges with a fine paintbrush

It only needed two coats of Sapphire Salute and as the paint is water-based, it dried in no time so was quick and easy to transform the dresser. 

The Wallpaper Part

Once it had completely dried, I started on the wallpaper. I stripped back the old wallpaper first and measured out the new wallpaper. It can be a bit tricky as you have to make sure the pattern matches up and cut out different sections to fit, but the result is worth it.

Once I had all the sections cut out, starting from the top left-hand corner, I applied Gorilla super glue to the back of the wallpaper (around the edges) and then stuck it into place. I find this suffices and you don’t have to use too much superglue.

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Very pleased with my B&Q GoodHome wallpaper choice
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Once the wallpaper was measured out and cut to size, I used Gorilla super glue to stick it to the back of the Welsh dresser.
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Nearly there
an upcycled welsh dresser painted blue with wallpaper
Upcycled dresser with paint and wallpaper. A match made in heaven I feel.
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The Details

Once I had painted and wallpapered the Welsh dresser, I loved how sleek and royal it looked! However, the worktop was still a little grubby and the handles and hinges looked lackluster.

I used some old rustoleum paint to freshen up the worktop and gold paint to brighten the handles and hinges. It was something I wasn’t considering doing, to begin with, but I think the gold handles and hinges really give the upcycled dresser a fabulous finishing touch.

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Painting the hinges with gold paint
hinges painted gold on the dresser
They look utterly fabulous with the golds and mustards of the wallpaper
the finished welsh dresser painted blue with botanical wallpaper
Ta-dah! So so pleased with the result

I’ve upcycled for about 10 years now and no longer do I look at an old piece of furniture with sadness, thinking it is destined for the dump. I wonder what it could be turned into, you can create your very own unique piece of furniture for your home.

an upcycled welsh dresser with wallpaper and painted blue in the kitchen
Looking pretty in the kitchen
an upcycled welsh dresser with wallpaper and blue paint in the kitchen
Definitely, the right decision to paint the wall white to highlight my welsh dresser upcycle.
an upcycled welsh dresser with wallpaper

It really doesn’t cost a lot and with a bit of creativity, imagination, and a paintbrush, you can pretty much do anything to it! What do you think of my new upcycled Welsh dresser?

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, read my full affiliate disclosure here.

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8 Comments

  1. I absolutely love the dresser before and after the upcycle.. please can I ask what the make and colour the original grey paint is?

  2. Omg it looks so elegant and so beautiful .
    I love it and the gold hinges absolutely are the cherry on the gorgeous cake.

  3. Do you need to coat the dresser once repainted with some protection? I’ve recently bought a dresser for upcycling and never done anything like this before so slightly nervous I make a hash of it.

    1. Hi Lynsay, I didn’t as I used paint that was specifically for wood. However, painting any furniture will always be susceptible to scratches and a bit of peel in my experience so you could use a top coat like a varnish?

  4. Hi Melanie! What did you do to the tabletop part of it in the original DIY? Is it just white paint, or some other kind of covering? I have an Ikea-esque dresser I want to upcycle, and your blog is giving me some very good ideas!

    1. Hello! I had originally painted the dresser before I decided to upcycle it again. I used Rust-Oleum antique white paint and used finishing wax on top. It held up quite well, but needed a few splashes of paint now and then 🙂

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