Mask run-of-the-mill storage with a little trompe l'oeil magic. We transformed a boxy, unfinished dresser into a dressier rococo masterpiece by painting it and decoupaging the front with blown-up clip art.
Choose an image that suits your style. Ours is from Antique Furniture and Decorative Accessories, by Thomas Arthur Strange (doverpublications.com). Note: There are many themed clip-art books available, some of which include a CD of images in JPEG format.
Take your image to a shop like FedEx, Kinkos, Office Max, or upload it to an online service, such as Print Center (fedex.com for locations). If your image is not already in PDF format, they will convert it for a small fee. Ask them to enlarge the image so it's smaller than the dimensions of the surface you're decoupaging. They'll show you a proof in 24 hours. Blow up the image in color on heavy-weight coated bond paper; it can be a maximum of 60 inches wide and any height. Images in black and white usually come only on 20-pound paper. Warning: It can tear more easily. The print will be ready in another 24 hours.
Use a utility knife to carefully cut out the image. Place image on top of the chest and mark the tops and bottoms of any drawers. Where marked, cut straight across with a utility knife.
Affix each piece of the image to drawer fronts (and the recessed surfaces in between) using spray mount or decoupage glue.
To keep the image looking clean and protect it from tearing after mounting, apply a top coat of decoupage glue.
Spray mount adhesive, such as 3M Spray Mount Artist's Adhesive, dickblick.com (optional)
Martha Stewart Crafts decoupage glue, at Michaels Stores
Any image will do, but we loved the cheeky surrealism that comes from superimposing a picture of a bureau onto the real thing. "This piece could go anywhere -- in the living room, filled with silverware and linens, or in the hall to store hats and scarves," says deputy style and home editor Shane Powers. Apply the same concept to magazine files and boxes, and stately urns and first-edition books can line your shelves for less than the price of the glossies concealed within.