I am one of those people who is always pinning pictures of free printables with the idea of using them for upcycling projects, but never sure exactly what that’s going to be. I was amassing a huge collection of pins of free vintage bird printables and it was actually while siting on the toilet the other day that I worked out what I could do with them! Namely upcycle the back of my toilet door!
I was in my downstairs toilet to be specific, you know the one all the guests use when they visit. It’s tiny, and when we renovated our 1920s house I splashed out on one wall of the downstairs toilet with a huge vintage bird mural (not cheap!) and scrimped on the mirrors on the other wall (I got stick on mirror tiles to fill the space!). What I neglected to do much with is the back of the door that all our guests stare directly at when they are doing their business!
So that’s where the free printables come in. The ones I found are in a very similar style to my huge break the bank mural so I thought they might complement it well and make the downstairs toilet even more over the top – which frankly is what I think a downstairs toilet is for! I decided to paste my images to the four inner panels of the back of my door.
Step 1: Choose your Images
The first step is to decide which of the many free printable images on the internet you want to use. There are tons! This is because a lot of these gorgeous illustrations are over 100 years old which means the copyright has expired. You can’t use them for commercial purposes but you can go ahead and print them for your own fun projects. I specifically looked for free vintage bird illustrations as that was the style of my existing mural. If you are looking for similar images check out my top picks for sites to visit to download similar images at the end of the tutorial. I’ve also linked to each image I used for this project at the end of the tutorial so if you want these exact images you can find them too! The ones above are from Raw Pixel (link below in the list).
Step 2: Print your images
I used sticky back A4 label paper. This is basically a full sheet of 8 x 11 printer paper but you can peel off the back and the whole sheet is adhesive. I decided this would be the easiest way for me to attach my images to the back of my door. You could use plain paper and use mod podge on the underside to stick it to a door as well but I had this paper already so I decided to give it a try.
I didn’t size the images at all, I just printed them as I found them and most pretty much filled a whole page.
I then laid out all the images I thought I might use and held them up against my door to get a feel for how they would look and how many I would need to use to fill the panels. I printed more than I needed in the end and I’ll use the rest for other projects as I really like how this one turned out!
One thing to know is that these images take a lot of colour ink to print! For me that was fine as my printer actually requires me to buy the black and white ink in a two pack with the colour and I almost never print in colour so I actually have loads of spare colour ink cartridges. If you don’t, you can find lovely black and white images online as well and I will link to a site for that in my list below.
Step 3: Cut to Size
Once I had a rough idea of how many images would fit in my panels I started cutting them to size. The A4 sheets I printed the images on were slightly wider than my panels so I centred the image where I wanted it, pressed down into the edge of the panel and used a craft knife to cut off the excess before I removed the backing and stuck the image on.
Step 4: Attach your images
I did the cutting and attaching as I went along. In order to fit my panel exactly I cut the border off of some images or covered the descriptive writing at the bottom by overlapping the next image. You can play around to see what fits the space you are covering with this technique. There are some progress shots below. The second photo above is me smoothing the air bubbles out as I stuck down my images. Because my door is original to the property it is not a completely flat surface so I had to smooth out these little air pockets in much the same way that you would when putting a protective screen on a mobile phone.
Step 5: Seal with Mod Podge
The last step is by far the most important, especially as I used this in my downstairs bathroom/toilet. I sealed it with 3 thin coats of Mod Podge. I used a brush, but you could equally use a craft sponge.
When I did the first coat I found the moisture from the Mod Podge created some more air bubbles which I had to smooth out with my finger as I went along. I didn’t need to do it again for the other coats though.
Step 6: Take a seat and enjoy your new view!
Top Spots for Finding Free Printables
- Rawpixel – this is where I got about two thirds of the images used for this project. They were just the right style for my room. They have a big range of free printables as well as some paid ones, but there are plenty to choose from without paying!
- Picture Box Blue – I got a few of the images with the less decorative backgrounds from Picture Box Blue. Claire who runs the site has a treasure trove of images to search through, especially vintage maps.
- Temperance Rose – There are loads of gorgeous free printables on this site, many of them black and white (if you want to do something similar but save on the colour ink cartridges!). I didn’t use any images from this site for this project but I did print some out that I might use elsewhere.
Below are the images I used for this project with links to where they were found! Enjoy!
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