Decoupaged Dresser – In Memory of My Father

I couldn’t really think of anything to give my son, Cooper, when he graduated from the University of North Carolina this past summer. I just remember thinking how proud my father would have been.  My father, Robert Cooper, was a friend, Cooper’s namesake, uniquely special grandfather, veteran and loving husband.  I went through some old photos of Bob (as he was known by) when he was a young boy in Kansas, and found one special black and white that I fell in love with.

I then chose an old chunky four drawer maple dresser that I had in the back of my store that felt perfect.  I measured the dresser and then had the photograph blown up to poster size at our local camera store (it cost roughly $40) big enough to cover most of the front of the dresser.  Here’s a step-by-step so you can create your very own masterpiece:

Step 1)

Choose a complimentary American Paint Company color that will blend in with the poster, giving it the effect that the poster and color are blended together.

Since I had my photo done in black and white, I chose Lincoln’s Hat as my base color.

LINCOLN'S HAT A true black

Remove the hardware, paint the piece and set aside.  Paint any remaining coats as needed and let dry.

painted in Lincoln's Hat by American Paint Company

Step 2)

Lay the piece in a position where you can easily apply Mod Podge adhesive to the surface area where the poster will be applied.  Apply a “light” coat to the back of the poster and with a couple of helping hands, apply poster to the piece (from bottom to top) while rubbing out the bubbles, gently, as you go with a wallpaper smoother or other soft straight edge.  Some bubbles will naturally remain so don’t worry too much.

smoothing out poster for decoupage

Step 3)

Giving the poster enough time to dry, use a sharp edged razor or exacto knife (a fresh blade will do the best cutting) and cut along the lines where appropriate.   After cutting, where appropriate, remove the drawers and set aside.

trimming at drawer openings

Step 4)

Apply a healthy coat of Mod Podge over the entire piece (and drawers, if indicated) and while wet, rub the edges of the poster with a sanding block and/or sanding paper to give a vintage effect.

Step 5)

After the piece has completely dried, seal your painted wood (and hardware) with the American Paint Company finish of your choice.  Let dry, apply hardware and love.

decoupaged dresser with little boy

Step 6)

Locate an APC retailer near you by visiting the website at and clicking on ‘Find a Retailer’ on the menu bar.


Post courtesy of Chris


  1. What a beautiful tribute. You’ve created a family heirloom beyond the norm.

  2. What a beautiful dresser and loving tribute! Love it!

  3. What a great idea! Love the old photos that say, yep, someone was here and left a legacy!

  4. That is amazing and such a wonderful treasure you have made.

  5. Tears in my eyes. Lovely tribute and lovely work.

  6. its beautiful

  7. Brenda MacKenzie says

    Really nice piece.I was thinking of doing something similar for my Mom who is 92 1/2.
    A photo of her brother, friend, dog and cat.Very little rascals…about 1926.
    I only have an old photo.Do you have suggestions re: quality?
    And what is the best place to get a poster (quality) print?
    I am in Canada mind you.
    Great job!!!!
    Cheers, Brenda

  8. Bonnie Gilmore says

    All I can say is WOW!

  9. Love this idea! Can’t wait to try it!

  10. Totally gonna do this for my sons music room with a rock poster for all his do dads and chords!

  11. I absolutely luv this!! So precious: ) thank u for sharing. ..I so am going to try this.

  12. This is such a wonderful project, where or how did you get the poster made of him?? Please let me know, thanks

    • mm American Paint Company says

      It was printed at a copy store like Fed Ex Kinko’s or Office Max.

      • harriette page says

        I have been trying to figure this out and now I know ,I love the Tribute u gave ur son nothing could be better . I will be following American paint Co . Love It

  13. I want to have a few of these made that is the most amazing thing I have seen!!!

  14. wow! This is a fantastic idea. I love the old family photograph. What a personal touch that I’m sure will make you smile every time you see it. Pinning!

  15. Deb north says

    So when the picture is completely dried, you put a finish on the exposed wood and hardware and not the picture correct? Love the idea!

  16. Barbara Nichols says

    Did you have the picture printed on regular photo paper?

  17. This is so touching, made me cry. I would love to do this for our granddaughter, in memory of her Mom (our daughter). She passed away when our granddaughter was only 10 monts old. Absolutely beautiful!

  18. I fell in love with this! I think it’s amazing…..and something so well thought out….an amazing gift anyone would love to have….I would love to do this for my family as christmas gifts this year…..:)

  19. Helen Schreiber says

    Hello, love that piece with the pic on the front. I would love to do this. In your instructions you say apply Mod Podge over the entire piece. So you put Mod Podge over the entire piece of furniture? Please advise.


  21. Alice Bowen says

    This is one of the sweetest piece of creativity I have seen in a long time. Love it.

  22. Could I post this project on my blog?

    • mm American Paint Company says

      You are welcome to post it to your blog please link it to American Paint Company as your source. Thank you and we’re happy you enjoyed our blog post!

  23. Billie crone perkins says

    That is so sweet.i love it.and want to do that on something

  24. I would love this, even not knowing the little guy in the picture, love the little truck in his hands, just so adorable!

  25. Wow!

  26. I have a dresser that I varnished, would this work on that?

  27. beautiful!!!! Where did u get the picture?

  28. Debbie Gruver says

    I love it, I have a picture of my father in overalls at age 7. We had it blown up to 4ft tall for his 75 birthday party and when my son turned 7, he looks so much like him that we stood the picture of him up and my son beside it. My photographer (brother-n-law) took a picture and fixed it in photo shop, and it looks like my son and father are standing together. Would love to do that for him.. he’s 25 now. You could also put other meaningful family picture’s to him on the top and have glass or Plexiglas cut to fit it.

  29. Super special gift idea….thanks for sharing! Our extended family draws names every New Years for the following Christmas. We all make a handmade gift for our chosen Secret Santa, it’s become a tradition everyone enjoys, adults and children included. On Christmas, we gather in a big circle and make a special event of opening/unveiling the labors of love, and marvel at the ideas/gifts we have each come up with, This beautiful family time together is truly my favorite part of the Christmas season! Appreciate your willingness to share your beautiful idea!

  30. mm American Paint Company says

    Hello Rebecca

    We used a more matte finish photo paper. I would love to see your work send a photo to

  31. Shane Ann says


  32. Maggie smith says

    I love this! I did an old chest that was my grandsons when he was a baby. I decoupage family pictures all over the top and painted the front like a patchwork quilt….but I really like your idea.

  33. I was thinking photo paper would be too stiff an glossy an smear when mode podge was added. I’ve used color pics before, on smaller things an it has smeared…doesn’t look like u had this problem. How did u avoid it. I love the idea.

    • This reply may be a bit late…but two things you could try (do a trial piece first so as to avoid disappointment and wasted materials).

      •Allow the photocopy to “cure” for at least 24 hrs before using. This allows the inks to absorb into the paper, and to thoroughly dry. I’ve noticed in the past that the printed photos also seems sharper after the rest period. You will have to convince the printer to do this: no rolling, no stacking-on, etc., MUST DRY FLAT and exposed to air overnight. Tell them it’s an experiment and if it comes out good, you will mention them favorably in a review or blog post.

      •Another idea, after the overnight rest period, use a fixativ spray to sort of waterproof the inks. This would be a time that several trials would be in order, to see which spray, with which papers, would have the best outcome.

  34. Margaret Motby says

    Hi, love this…. I am in the process of upcycling an old dressing table for our grandaughter….
    I am hoping to put family photo’s with a picture of a tree with roots on, so when Nannie and Grampa are not around, she will always have memories of our times spent together.
    Just one question, if that’s okay?
    You say cover the pictures with the mod podge also the area the pictures are being placed on, am I right in I don’t need to gently rub of the paper and just leave it as it is?
    Thank you for you comments on this please

  35. Angela Vestal says

    I love this and have been wanting to do this for a while. Great job!!!!! To everyone with questions about decoupaging. You paint the glue underneath pic, then 2-3 layers on top. let it dry overnight then brush polyurethane over the picture. Myself, I will apply 2-3 coats letting dry inbetween. This will protect it & make cleaning safe. Without a doubt this is my favorite yet!!!!!!!

  36. This is the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Sadly, I don’t have anyone to do this for. I should just do it for myself. Thank you.

  37. I just wanted to say THANK YOU THANK YOU for the idea! I made my neice a beautiful dresser using these ideas of her dad and it came put so amazing and special to her! Honestly thank you step by step!

  38. Love this idea…it gave me the inspiration to do a similar project as a gift for my mom. She has a lot of jewelry, so I transformed a 5 drawer chest into a huge jewelry box. I lined each drawer with acrylic compartments, placed beautiful vintage scrapbooking papers as drawer liners, and stenciled the sides of each drawer. A family heirloom was created…thank you for a wonderful idea.

  39. LOVE this idea! I’m going to do one for my mom for mother’s day with her mom on it who passed away.
    Quick question, after you mod podge the picture what do you seal the paint with? Clear wax? If so, can clear wax go over the picture also?

  40. Julie Pogue says

    Such a beautiful piece. May I ask what the advantage is to Mod Podge paper over using their photo transfer medium? Thank you so much!

  41. How did you do the gaps between the drawers?

  42. Marvelous. Fun idea for a wonderful image.

  43. Love love love this idea,I’m just bought me an antique chest Of drawers today to make this project. I can’t wait to start. Thank you so much for sharing the info on how to do this,I am not creative but this has inspired me to do this,I have lost both parents but I have a pic of them when they started to date in 1950. It is black and white, I hope it turns out half this good.
    Thanks again

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