After upcycle ideas? Transform old furniture with this animal print!

Unleash your wild side with this upcycle idea and turn furniture from drab to fab in five easy steps

Upcycle ideas: a chest of drawers with animal print design
(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

At a loose end this weekend and in need of fun upcycle ideas to fill the time? We've got the perfect idea for you. Using just three paint colours, a bit of imagination and some creative flair, it's simple to turn a bland set of drawers into a statement piece with this animal print effect. With everything from leopard to tiger print all the rage in interiors right now, it's a budget-friendly way to grab a slice of the animal print action. 

Want to give it a go? Read on for step-by-step instructions on how to achieve it, then take a look at other craft ideas on our dedicated page.

Thanks to Rust-Oleum and instagrammer Sofie from threeboysandapinkbath for this fab upcycle idea.

upcycled chest of drawers with animal print design

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

You will need:

bare chest of drawers ready for upcycling project

(Image credit: Rust-Oleum)

Step one: clean your furniture

This project uses a basic chest of drawers, but you could create a similar animal print effect on an old wardrobe, bookcase or sideboard too.

Thoroughly clean the item of furniture you're upcycling to ensure the surface is free from dirt and grease before painting. Wipe it down with a sugar soap solution and allow to dry. It's a good idea to either remove handles and drawer pulls, or cover them with masking tape to prevent them getting covered with paint. 

Step two: paint the background colours

Remove the drawers from the unit and start painting the unit. Use a roller to paint the drawer fronts, top and base of the unit in your main colour. For this project, the main colour is Rust-Oleum's Satin Finish Furniture Paint in Carbon – this particular paint doesn't require any sanding or a top coat, which means it's a quick and easy option for upcycling furniture. 

Next, paint the sides of the unit in a contrasting shade – Rust-Oleum's Satin Finish Furniture Paint in Cotton has been used here. Allow to dry and apply a second coat if necessary. 

Step three: paint inside the drawers

To give your drawers a touch of glamour, paint the sides and inside of the drawers in a metallic gold, which will tie in with the details for the animal print (see below). Rust-Oleum's Metallic Finish Furniture Paint in Gold has been used here. Allow to dry. 


Step four: create the animal print design

Before adding your animal print design to the white sections on the side of the drawers, test out your technique on paper first to make sure you're happy with the overall effect. 

Dip a sponge in the black paint (removing any excess paint on an old cloth if necessary), then dab the sponge onto the surface to create a series of random spots. You're not looking to create perfect circles – the more random the better. Allow to dry. 

A top tip is to cut out some sections from the sponge to help create a more varied print. 

Step five: add the gold details

Using a medium sized paintbrush or the sponge, apply a blob of metallic gold paint to the centre of a large number of the black circles, creating the finished animal print effect. 

Once everything is completely dry, reattach the handles. If you want to minimise costs, simply update the original handles with a gold metallic paint for a more polished look. If you're happy to splash out on some new handles, take a look at Etsy for a wide range of styles. Or we love these designs from Sasse and Belle and Graham & Green

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More upcycling projects to try

Beth Murton
Beth first started working on Real Homes as a sub-editor over 15 years ago. Since then she has worked on 4Homes, Grand Designs and as a freelancer, before returning to Real Homes for the third time. She is Acting Editor on the magazine and always has a makeover project of some kind on the go.