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Silver Leaf Dresser

January 1, 2013

This second hand dresser from the Catholic Guild was the first piece of furniture I undertook in my quest for a nicer home. Most people would start out silver or gold leafing some fruit or a tiny statue, but I decided to meet the challenge head on. I didn’t take photos during the process because I didn’t
know I would be blogging this stuff almost a year later. But I must say when I tried to find a blog with silver leafing, I couldn’t find anything. I will make the effort to video how I accomplished this task and post it here soon.
I used a nontraditional method, but my process has held up well as a bedside table for about a year now. I frequently put glasses of water on the nightstand and the water rings have never marked up the surface.
Materials needed:
Garage or enclosed space (any bit of wind will ruin a piece of silver leafing)- move the car out too unless you want speckles on your paint job…
A squatting stool
Decoupage (nontraditional adhesive), large bottle
Cheap paint brush to apply decoupage
2 packages Silver leaf pieces* ( purchased at Michael’s for less than $10 each)- depends on the size of your piece. Each piece of silver leaf in my pack was approx. 4″x6″. My small piece of furniture measure about 3’x2’x1.5′
Silver polishing cream (in a small tube)
Furniture wax or satin polyurethane
4-6 pieces of 12″x12″ scrapbook paper (for sides)
A sturdy brush for adhering or patting the silver leaf
Scissors (to cut leafing to size)

I really liked using the decoupage because I was accustomed to how it worked and it dried clear. So if I wasn’t moving along fast enough, it was no big deal. You really need fingernails to separate the leafing from the backing. * I do not suggest purchasing the leafing with adhesive backing since you’ll be applying your own.

Plan to overlap the pieces.

It will look bad for a while and you will likely second guess yourself for a while. I did not paint my piece prior to applying the pieces. I don’t even remember sanding it down. I was fine if my pieces crumpled because I wanted that worn look.

Basically, I ran out of silver leaf and I was getting impatient, so I put scrapbook paper in the recessed sides. I figured since it wasn’t really visible, it didn’t matter. See the photo of the side of the nightstand. I think it makes the piece even more original.


I was going to replace the handles, but I couldn’t remove them…see image.

20130101-000926.jpg so, I rubbed the silver polish on the handles and they look great!


As you can see from the close up images, this is an imperfect job. If you have OCD, I do not recommend this for a weekend project. You will need a lot of time and a lot of silver leafing to get it right.

20130101-001906.jpg I really wanted the detail of the carving to stick out, so I paid attention to this area in more detail.

After applying the silver or gold leaf with decoupage paste, allow the piece to dry thoroughly. Then I rubbed the silver rubbing cream from my finger onto the edges of all the drawers and the sides of the cabinet.

20130101-002408.jpg I also rubbed some more on an old t-shirt and buffed the entire piece to give it a worn or tarnished appearance and to push down any flyaway pieces of silver.

Finally, you can leave it if you will not be touching the surface and you want a flakey look over time. But, I recommend a coat or two of satin polyurethane or some rub on furniture wax. Upclose, the piece looks rough; but in the whole room, it dazzles in the sunlight. I am very proud of my first piece.
These drawers come in very handy for all of my inspirational magazines as well.


I hope you have enjoyed my first post. I look forward to your questions and comments. Happy cre8ing, my friends!


From → furniture redo

  1. How exciting – your first post – and it’s a beauty! I love silver leaf – your dresser looks amazing!

    • Thanx Kelly! I painted the turquoise peacock dresser for the other side of the bed to compliment the silver leaf.

  2. You did a really good job! I love the sophisticated look the silver leaf gives to the dresser! Congratulations on your first one! Looking forward to your next project!

  3. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for inexpensive nightstands

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