How to Decoupage Laminate Furniture With Brown Paper Bags

2 Materials
2 Days

Like a lot of you, I had those inexpensive laminate storage cube organizers to store my kids’ stuff. Cubby organizers are incredibly useful, but they aren’t really built to last. And the finishing is usually pretty cheap looking.

After a year or so mine had also become chipped, scraped, and scuffed. These cube shelves were in desperate need of a revamp, so when I redesigned the girls’ bedroom, I saw the perfect opportunity! I thought about painting them since painting laminate furniture is a big thing these days, but it didn’t really solve for the exposed screws and unfinished edges.

Instead, I decided to decoupage the storage cubes with brown paper bags and HOLY COW, they almost look like leather!

In this post, I’m going to teach you how to update a laminate cube shelf, without painting, basically for free, simply by using some glue, water, and leftover grocery bags.

Grab a whole lot of brown paper grocery bags

You’ll need quite a few so don't skimp! If you have bags without printing on them, that's ideal. If you plan to paint over the decoupage at the end, then printed is fine. Otherwise, only use the parts of the bag without print.Kraft paper can also be used if you don't have enough bags. I detail the pros and cons of bags vs. kraft paper on my blog if you need help deciding which to go with.

Tear and crumple up the bags

Tear all your bags into irregular pieces. The more variety the better!Then, crumple the pieces up to create a rougher texture. This will soften the paper and allow it to absorb more of the glue.Doing all the tearing and crumpling up front is tedious but will speed up the actual decoupage process. Tearing up paper with glue all over your hands is very sticky

Make your decoupage medium

Mix one part school glue to one part water. I like to mix it up directly in the glue jug if there's room, then pour some out into a lined paint pail as I need it. You can also mix it directly in the container of your choice.

Start decoupaging!

Dip each piece of paper into the glue mixture and coat well. Place each piece onto the your furniture and smooth with your fingers until there are no air bubbles.Be sure to overlap your pieces to create a more natural texture, and also to enhance durability. If you'd like a bit more detail and some helpful tips for this step, check out the full post (link below).Allow the decoupaged paper bags to dry thoroughly (at least 24 hours) before moving on to the next step.

Add a couple coats of varnish

Adding a coat of varnish will protect the finish. I used a spray varnish for the sake of speed, but if you want a more durable finish, do a traditional brush application.

So what do you think? Would you give this project a try? If you love DIY and are looking to decorate your home on a budget, this is a truly chic look for literally almost free.

Excuse me while I go style those shelves

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Brianna at Bloom in the Black
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Caroline Bick Caroline Bick on Aug 21, 2020

    Hi it’s lovely, would it work on kitchen worktops as well please? Thank you for showing what you have achieved

  • Caroline Bick Caroline Bick on Aug 21, 2020

    Hi sorry I also meant to ask how many layers of paper would be best please? Thank you

  • Kathryn Sanderson Kathryn Sanderson on Jun 14, 2021

    Do you do anything to prep the laminate, like sand it or clean it? Or just decoupage away?


Join the conversation

3 of 73 comments
  • Diana Deiley Diana Deiley on Jul 02, 2021

    I've also seen this technique applied to walls and floors. Stunning. AND I do remember watching Lynette Jennings' shows. Great show. BUT, that got me started watching the Interior Motives aka The Christopher Lowell Show. Talk about talent! He really knew his stuff and actually showed you how to do the techniques. Fabulous, talented man.

    • Tina Meckley Tina Meckley on Jul 04, 2021

      I did one accent wall in my boys bedroom when they were pre-teens ( before pinterest lol ), it turned out pretty cool. They are in their 30's now lol.

  • Elaine Elaine on Jul 03, 2021

    I too was a HUGE fan of Lynette Jennings and Christopher Lowell and I remember her when she did this technique. Guess what, when I was a server at the Grand Canyon Lynette came in with her husband and they sat in my section. Of course, I got her autograph and cherish it to this day!!