If your household is anything like mine, you tend to be really tough on high surfaces ~ tabletops, countertops ~ you name it. Anyplace that is prime real estate to throw a back pack, put a coffee cup, color, use sharpies (ahem), you get the picture.
For some time now, I've been obsessed with covering these areas when they are beyond help with vintage papers, music paper, scrapbook paper and vintage wallpaper. It's such an easy fix and actually adds to the decor of your room. Back in 2008, I covered Kate's desk with my favorite Foofala papers and I've been going strong ever since!
Our kitchen island had been sorely in need of a pick me up ~ we don't prepare food on it but use it as a catchall for this popular gathering area. It's an old Crate and Barrel table we have had for a good 10 years now. I painted it a few years ago but the top just hasn't done well. I probably didn't seal it properly so there was fading, cracks and peeling. What better way to begin the new year than get out that music paper and go for it!
If you've been thinking about covering anything with paper, here's my process. You will need:
1. Your favorite papers
2. Mod Podge (I use the matte finish)
3. A cheap foam brush
4. A paper plate for your glue
5. A bowl of warm water
6. A roll of paper towels or rag
Clean off the surface you are covering with a damp rag. I don't sand or do any other prep. While the surface is drying, you will want to cut your papers. I like to cut all the empty sides off my music paper or any words. Cut the papers using a trimmer or you could tear them too. Just make different sizes ~ some wide, some long ~ make rectangles, squares to keep it interesting. You will want to cut quite a few depending on the size of your surface. You can always cut more and adjust the sizes along the way as needed.
I start in the top corner and just wing it (that says a lot given I'm a Virgo!). You will want to first put a layer of Mod Podge on the tabletop and then (here's the trick to no wrinkles) dip your paper into the bowl of water before placing it on top of the glue.
I dip both sides of the paper in the water and then shake it a bit getting as much excess water off. Put in on your surface and you will be able to slide it a bit into position.
I then dab it with a damp paper towel to get most of the layer of pooled water off. Dab don't drag. You know ~ lightly dab, dab, dab. You may get some color from the paper on your towel ~ this is ok, as long as you don't drag the towel and distort the image. Use your fingers to lightly push out from the center of the paper any bubbles or wrinkles. If you get a particularly unruly piece you can even use your fingernail to carefully pull up the side and put it back in place. The dampness of the paper will make this flawless. Keep this process up for the rest of your surface until it is covered.
I keep checking back as I go and check for variations. You can keep lightly smoothing the papers as they will take some time to completely dry. You will want to squeeze out your foam brush if it starts getting drippy with a lot of water and glue. Toss your paper towels when they get too wet too. The goal is a nice damp surface to work on not a pool of water and glue.
When you get to your last corner you may want to do a little planning for the sizes of your paper to make sure you don't end up with a tiny spot left to cover. After the whole table is covered, I paint the entire surface with a couple coats of Mod Podge ~ waiting a bit in between coats for them to dry.
It will look shiney like this and you will be able to see the brush strokes. That is ok ~ it will dry and you won't see a thing. Magic. . . I let my table dry over night. In the morning, I had a little spot that lifted so I just added a little Mod Podge underneath and let it dry.
Once it was completely dry, I painted two coats of clear satin finish (recommended to me by Karla Nathan ~ the Queen of painting).
Voila! A beautiful new table for the New Year!!
(Excuse the holiday decor ~ I always lose out to my husband and kids as to the amount of time we keep up our decor. I do believe it would be year round if I didn't remove it when they go back to school!)
A couple other tips ~
If you are using paper with words, make sure to check what they say BEFORE glueing them down. I used a Sear Roebuck Catalog on our kitchen desk and look at an ad for Herb Laxative Tea daily.
On all of our desk surfaces, I have a sheet of acrylic cut for on top of the collaged papers. You can still see the beautiful papers but won't ruin them since our desks see a lot of pen and crayon use!
If you are concerned about gluing anything on to your desks, you can simply use double stick tape and then place the acrylic on top. It will all stay in place and if you ever sell the piece you can just remove the papers. Or maybe even change them up some day if your tastes change too!