How to use Furniture Transfers

I recently was asked to use something completely new to me. A furniture transfer! My style is more of a whimsical bohemian look so this was just a little out of the box for me. 

I started by choosing my dresser. I love these smaller antique dressers. They are the perfect size for a guest bedroom, baby’s room, and can even be used as an entryway piece or a coffee bar! This one as you can see below, was looking pretty rough when I got her, but she cleaned up nicely with little repairs!

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Material List:


The first thing I did is give it a good sanding with my orbit sander. I like to use 120 grit paper and get all the loose old finish off. This is a light sanding. I don’t sand it to the bare bones, just until it’s smooth. I did sand the top all the way down because I wanted to stain it. Then I cleaned it really good with Krud Kutter Gloss off. Once that is done I give it 2 coats of Zinsser synthetic shellac based primer in white. I like to use sponge rollers to apply this. This primer blocks all the yucky stains that like to come out of old furniture like this. You can see it already looks better!

The transfer I choose for this piece is Imperial Garden by Prima. The transfer is semi transparent so I wanted to paint something to make it subtly more interesting. You can see here I lined up all the paint colors I considered using for this dresser. I decided to go with an ombre of Stormy Seas, Vintage Duck Egg, Savannah Mist, and Drop cloth. I used 4 colors but it actually looks like 3 because I blended the Savannah Mist and the Drop Cloth. After the paint was dry I gave it another coat in the same fashion. Paint usually takes at least 2 coats to cover. I like to think of my 1st coat as the practice coat before the finale. The last thing I did before applying the transfer was I mixed a 1:1 ration of water with silver metallic top coat. I painted this all over evenly with a synthetic bristle brush. It gave it a beautiful metallic detail.

Now it was time to decide how to apply this transfer. I laid the transfer on the floor and looked at the pieces. At first I thought I would have it coming around the corner and stop halfway through the dresser. So I got out my tape and taped it onto the dresser to measure how it would look. It wasn’t the best idea because it would hide the majority of the transfer. I opted to put the transfer centered in the middle. This transfer was a bit larger than the dresser so it wrapped slightly around the edges. I used the extra pieces from the bottom of the transfer and cut them up and used them on the sides. I love how this looks!


To put the transfer on you just peel the backing off, lay it on your piece, and rub it on. It comes with a wood tool but I ended up finding my metal pallet knife worked much better. I also used a razor knife to cut the transfer where the drawers end. It made it much easier to apply. Overall it took me about 4 hours to apply the transfer completely to the dresser. It takes a little time but it is so worth it!

As for the final details I took a sanding block and lightly sanded over the transfer to distress it a bit and make it feel more authentic. I did this with a super light hand! I also sanded all my edges to get any of the excess transfer off and to give it a slightly distressed feel. Then most importantly I added silver leaf to the toes here to make them look polished. For some reason I really get a kick out of those “polished’ toes. It feels like a bad Dad joke. LOL

For a lasting finish I sealed this piece with Satin Clear Coat. This is my favorite sealer to use for the body of furniture! The top I stained with Colonial Black from Dixie Belle and then washed Up In Smoke Stain from Dixie Belle over it. Then I sealed the top with Gator Hide. Overall the transfer experience was amazing! My mom actually claimed this piece before I could post it for sale. It makes me super happy she has it!