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How to Upcycle a Bureau into an Art Deco Drinks Cabinet

bureau Upcycle tutorial

Shona Murphy of Made by Murphy has written this tutorial for Upcycle My Stuff, showing how she transformed this old dated bureau into a stunning Art Deco drinks cabinet with a sunburst design using fusion mineral paint and gold leaf.

Materials Needed:

For the Prep:

To Paint:

Other materials used:

Step 1: Dismantle

bureau upcycling tutorial

The first thing I do when refinishing furniture is take it apart!  I remove doors and hardware to ensure I can get into every groove and tight space.

Step 2: Scrub Clean

fusion tsp

When it comes to upcycling anything, your finish is only as good as you prep.  So it is important to make sure you give your item of furniture a really good scrub!

I like to use Fusion Mineral Paints TSP in a spray bottle as it means there is no wastage or dirty water to keep refreshing.  I dilute 2 capfuls per litre of water in a spray bottle and spray the furniture, giving it a good scrub with a scouring sponge and wiping back the residue with kitchen roll.  The good thing about this product is that you don’t need to rinse it afterwards, making it super easy and quick to use.

Step 3: Sand

I then give the whole piece a good sand with a sanding block/sponge.  You are only giving it a scuff sand to help the paint adhere and to take the shine off the wood.

I then take my TSP spray and clean it all again thoroughly so that there is no dust or dirt to ruin my finish.

Step 4: Fill Holes

wood filler

Then I fill any holes or dings I feel merit being filled.  I am not overly meticulous with this step as vintage furniture is just that… vintage.  I don’t want to take away from the character of the piece, but if there is damage that will affect the overall look of the piece, then I will fix it.

I use Ronseal Wood Filler in “Natural”, I find it’s a good consistency to work with and has a smooth texture when sanded back.

Step 5: Masking Tape

Its time to mask off! I mask off the edges of the sections I am going to strip to ensure they stay clear of the stripper.  I also mask off the back section of the bureau where I will be applying the gold leaf.  This ensures a neat and tidy finish.  I prefer to use the wide masking tape as I can be rather clumsy and it gives more protection from wandering paint.

Step 6: Back to Sanding

Art Deco drinks cabinet upcycle tutorial

With fine sandpaper, I then sand back the areas I have applied the wood filler to so that they are smooth and give it a wipe with a lint free cloth to ensure the area is free of any dust… now, you’re ready to paint.

Step 7: Start Painting

For this particular piece I have used a combination of Fusion Mineral Paints.  I wanted a dark green/blue colour different to ones I have done previously.  So I mixed Park Bench, Seaside, Midnight Blue, Coal Black and Ash together to get this really rich greeney blue.

**Top Tip** I line my paint tray with tin foil, so it can be used time and time again.

I used a 5mm nap (smooth) roller from Two Fussy Blokes out to start applying the paint. These rollers work perfectly with Fusion paint and as the paint is self-levelling, the finish is super smooth.

I use a small brush to do the tighter areas. Once the 1stcoat is done on all sections, I leave the paint to dry and then come back for a second coat.

Step 8: Gold Leaf

Before applying the gold leaf size (see list above of materials used), I like to mask off the painted areas so none of the leaf will adhere to them.  I then paint the area in Fusion Mineral Paints Mustard as it gives a good base for the gold leaf and brightens it once it’s on.

I applied the size to the back of both side sections of of the cabinet as that is where I wanted the gold leaf. When doing this I leave the size until it changes from white to clear- this means its sticky and ready to go.

Wearing gloves so as not to tarnish the gold leaf, I apply it evenly in squares as best I can… It can have a mind of its own.  It will initially look a mess, but once its all laid down, walk away.  Leave it for a couple of hours before coming back to wipe away the excess and buff it up with your lint free cloth.  

**Top Tip** Always make sure you are buffing with a clean bit of cloth- if it has gold leaf stuck to it, it will scratch the rest of the gold leaf.

Step 9: Stripping

While I’m waiting to buff the gold leaf, I get down to stripping.  I apply the stripper to the sections where I want the natural wood to come through.  I apply it nice and thickly so that it doesn’t dry out.

Leave for an hour, apply again, then leave it again for another hour. 

Then the fun begins. Use your scraper to remove the stripper and varnish that will now be loosened underneath.  It’s a real messy job, so make sure your floors are covered, I like to use a disposable dust sheet.

Once you have the majority of it off, give it a good scrub with a sponge, cloths and water until all the residue is off and you have a clean bit of wood to work with.

Step 10: Reassemble

At this point you can reassemble your piece of furniture. Once you have your furniture back together, you are ready to map out your design.

Step 11: Sunburst Design

For this particular piece I wanted a sunburst effect.  I used different thicknesses of masking tape to achieve this effect, but you can also cut normal masking tape to size.

I removed the areas of tape which I wanted to paint, used 3 coats of a custom gold I created using Fusion Mineral Paints- Bronze, Vintage Gold and Deep Gold.   Once that’s dry, you get to take the tape off and reveal your design.

Step 12: Varnish

It’s now time to varnish the woodwork and seal that design in.  I used 3 coats of the General Finishes Varnish with a snappy applicator to ensure a super strong finish.

Step 13: Hardware

upcycled drinks cabinet handles

I decided the original handles were not in-keeping with the look I was going for.  I bought inexpensive silver ones from B & Q, gave them a scuff sand and sprayed with Rustoleum Spray.  Thin coats works best to build up the colour and ensure an even finish.

I added these handles and used the “Gold Leaf” Rub n Buff on the hinges to make sure it all tied together beautifully.

Then you stand back and admire your hard work, because I can assure you… It pays off!

Sunburst design drinks cabinet
sunburst design drinks cabinet
made by Murphy logo

This tutorial was written by Shona Murphy of Made by Murphy. Shona creates bespoke furniture from vintage items and brings life back into ‘treasured’ or ‘unwanted’ pieces.

Instagram: madebymurphy1

Facebook: madebymurphy1

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diy art deco paint tutorial

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bravo! Beautiful!

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