We are happy to welcome our friend Karen Barchi from Bay Avenue Antiques in Barnegat, New Jersey as our first guest blogger on the All Things New Again Blog! Karen is a fellow American Paint Company retailer. She created such a beautiful new look for this dresser, we can’t stop staring at it. Thank you for sharing your project with us today, Karen. It is beautiful! We can’t wait to try out this technique.

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dresser_finalI’m very excited about the American Paint Company product line and all of the wonderful things we can do! I painted this beautiful 6-drawer dresser from the late 1800’s using APC paints and transferred the floral images onto the drawers for a watercolor effect.

closeupI was thrilled to find that APC Top Coat or Hard Coat can be used as the gel medium for transferring images printed on an inkjet printer. This technique takes some practice to perfect so I would recommend trying it on test boards until you get the hang of it.

Here are the steps for creating this look.

basecoat paintStart by basecoating the areas where you plan to transfer the images.

I dry brushed American Paint Company’s Dollar Bill and Limoges on the drawers.brush on top coat

When the base coat is dry, brush on a layer of American Paint Company Top Coat.

This step is important because the transfer process involves water.

Sealing the basecoat with Top Coat will protect your paint.

fabricWe can find inspiration everywhere! This lovely floral fabric is from an apron in my shop. It is the image I’m going to transfer onto the dresser drawers. The first step is copying the fabric on a printer just like you would scan a piece of paper. I used my inkjet printer for this project as it gave me good enough prints for my desired effect. I’m going for a blurry watercolor look so the possibility of ink running a little is OK on this project. If a sharper image is needed, you should use a laser printer to make copies or use any colorfast printed material.

several versionsDo several different orientations of the fabric when you copy it. We do not want to just repeat the same version.

Once you have your prints, lay them out face up on the drawers to design their placement. You will be cutting off the white border where no ink was printed. Also, trim the pages to fit your particular piece.

floral printsscrewsOnce you decide on the order of placement, flip the paper copies over and check for location of handles and knobs on the drawer.

Cut a hole in the paper if screws are present and are going to be involved.

toolsThese are tools you can use to smooth out the paper when you adhere it to the piece. I especially like rubber brayers. You can also use soft plastic spreaders and your hands.

Put down a thin layer of APC Top Coat or APC Hard Coat on the drawer. Work quickly with a bristle or foam brush. Brush in only one direction. Any area you miss will not transfer the ink, so it is important to be thorough in this step.

brush on top coatCarefully place your trimmed paper copy upside down over the wet Top Coat. Try not to move the paper once it is in contact with the wet coating. Use your tool of choice and light pressure over your paper to smooth it out onto the drawer.


smoothingTry not to get the coating on the unprinted side of the image because it will dry and make it difficult to remove the paper later. Once all of the paper is adhered to your piece …

Back away from the project!
No peeking . No poking.


Let the piece dry overnight before attempting to rub off the paper. Spritz the paper with water to saturate it and then rub it off with your finger—gently—leaving the printed image on your drawer. This step takes patience and finesse. Do not try to rush this. Practice, practice.

Gently rub the wet paper with your finger using a circular motion in a small, tight circle (about the size of a quarter to start). Use light pressure or you will rub through the paint. You must finesse this! If you are patient, you will quickly get the feel for this. You want to ONLY remove the paper—not the ink. The paper will begin to ball up and rub away as you can see in this photo from a different project.


Continue rubbing, but do NOT pull up on the paper or you will also pull up the design. Using your fingers helps you to get the feel of this.

After you’ve gotten all of the paper off, let everything dry again. You may need to go back to the rubbing off process if, after drying, you notice too much of the white paper is left. Just re-wet and with an even gentler touch rub the rest of the paper off.

drawerYou will notice here that after rubbing off the paper, the flowers look more purple in color than the original red and pink flowers on my apron’s fabric. The color change occurred because the inkjet copies of the fabric are not waterproof. When using an inkjet printer, some of the colors will bleed and become distorted when water is applied. Again, that soft watercolor effect is the look I was going for here. If you want the colors to stay pure, you need to print your image on a laser printer, which will also give you a sharper image.

sandingSandpaper can be used (when dry) to help remove any residue and to clean up drawer edges.

If you rubbed too hard and accidentally removed some of the image, it is possible to touch up the area with paint. You may even try patching more of the printed image onto the bare area. Just cut or tear the image to fit the spot, then smooth it down over a layer of wet APC Top Coat like you did before. Repeat the removal process once dry.

Once you are satisfied with the look—and the transfer is completely dry—brush APC Top Coat over the entire drawer to protect all of that hard work. Replace any hardware and stand back to admire.

This is the fabulous finished dresser. I used American Paint Company’s Limoges, Nana’s Cupboard, Beach Glass and Dollar Bill on the painted areas. I finished everything with APC’s new Hard Coat for a beautiful transparent satin sheen in just one coat.




If you are near Barnegat, New Jersey, please check out Bay Avenue Antiques, a multi-dealer antique shop loaded with awesome old stuff—and like them on Facebook!

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This post is linking up with these awesome parties. Check them out!

DIY Vintage Chic ~ Friday’s Five Features No. 69

Miss Mustard Seed ~ Furniture Feature Friday

Embracing Change ~ Creative Inspirations Linky Party

The DIY Dreamer ~ From Dream to Reality #147

5 thoughts on “How To Create A Watercolor Effect On Furniture Using An Inkjet Printer and American Paint Company Top Coat

    1. You’re welcome Karen! Thanks for letting me share your project with the world. It really is beautiful. I had a lot of fun working with you. Looking forward to the next one! –Courtney

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