It’s amazing what a little DIY can do to an old travel trunk.

If you associate decoupage with garish 70s arts and crafts, you are so wrong, writes Marchelle Abrahams.

A craft technique that has been used since the 12th century, Decoupage is experiencing a resurgence of sorts, thanks in part to the upcycling trend.

Crafty types are now practising it in different forms and the results are coveted in the pages of decor magazines and Instagram feeds. Gone are the kitsch patterns once associated with 70s interior design. Today, thanks to improvements in DIY, just about anything can be decorated.

Crafting extraordinaire Fransie Snyman has written many book on DIY projects, but her passion for decoupage finally inspired her latest offering called Decoupage Your Home.

A science teacher by trade, the author has managed to condense easy How To projects that just about anyone can attempt. And the best part is that all the projects are items that complement any home interior.

The book, published by Metz Press, covers everything, from different decoupage techniques to arranging activities according to a home’s living space.
To get your decoupage on, we’ve taken two projects from the book to get you started.

It’s amazing what a little DIY can do to an old travel trunk.

Travel trunk table

Usually discarded as junk, old suitcase trunks can be found in secondhand shops for less than R100.

You’ll need:

  • Suitcase
  • Screwdriver
  • Damp cloth
  • Fabric to cover trunk’s inside and out (4mx115cm)
  • Pair of scissors
  • Brushes
  • Small brayer
  • Podge - gloss
  • Acid to remove rust from buckles and clasps
  • Feet
  • Steel wool
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Spray paint (matt gold)
  • Acrylic paint (Heritage: Chocolate)


  1. Remove all the locks, hinges, buckles and wooden strips from the trunk and pull off stickers and labels.
  2. Clean it thoroughly to get rid of loose bits of paper and dust.
  3. Cut a piece of fabric to size to cover the inside and outside of the lid.
  4. Start at the front of the lid and podge fabric into it. Use a brayer to smooth out any air bubbles. 
  5. Make neat folds at the corners and use enough podge to push the fabric firmly in place. 
  6. Take the fabric all the way around and to the inside of the lid, covering it, and leave to dry.
  7. Apply 4 layers of podge in different directions (from top to bottom and from left to right) over the fabric. Allow every layer to dry completely before applying the next.
  8. Repeat steps 3-5 on the rest of the trunk - inside and out.
  9. Soak the metal parts in an acid solution for a few minutes to get rid of the rust. Rinse thoroughly and sand lightly with steel wool to remove any remaining rust before spraying it with gold spray paint.
  10. Sand the wooden strips with sandpaper, apply the brown acrylic paint and nail the strips to the suitcase. If you cannot use the original nails, get new ones.
  11. Replace the hinges and clasps and attach the feet to the bottom of the trunk by following the manufacturer’s instructions.

These planters can be displayed inside or outside your home.


Rough cement garden pots are cheaper than ceramic or porcelain ones. To achieve a smooth effect, the surface must be treated with jointing plaster or similar product.

You’ll need:

  • 3 pots in different sizes
  • 80 - and 220-grit sandpaper
  • Jointing plaster
  • Pallet knife
  • White PVA paint
  • Brushes
  • 10 sheets of Decopatch paper in shades of black and white (amount depends on sizes of pots)
  • Podge - outdoor
  • Heavy duty high gloss varnish


  1. Sand the cement pots with the 80-grit sandpaper to obtain the smoothest possible effect.
  2. Use a pallet knife to apply the joining plaster to the pots as evenly as possible and allow to dry completely before sanding the pots with 220-grit sandpaper.
  3. Repeat step 2 until the pots are smooth enough to your liking and paint the pots with white PVA paint.
  4. Carefully plan how you are going to put the Decopatch paper on the pots. A sheet of paper is only 30x40cm, so you will have to join the sheets. The paper works well on curves, so you won’t see the joins.
  5. Cover the pots with whole sheets of paper where possible. If it is necessary to join the paper at the corners of the pot, first place pieces of paper over the corner and then paste whole sheets over them. This makes the joins disappear.
  6. Apply 4 layers of podge to the pots in different directions (from top to bottom and left to right). Allow each layer to dry completely before applying the next.
  7. Finish the pots with a coat of high gloss varnish.

* Decoupage Your Home can be purchased on or