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How to Decorate Furniture Drawers With Rub On Transfers

I bit the bullet and decorated desk drawers with rub on furniture transfers and found I had been anxious about the process for no reason!

This project is a desk I bought at auction a few weeks ago. It is a really nice desk, solid wood and in good shape except for discolored areas on the desk top. Well, you know I’m going to paint it right. After the paint job I applied a rub on furniture transfer to the top three drawers and to say the desk is pretty is an understatement.

How to decorate furniture drawers with rub on transfers from Redesign by Prima
How to decorate furniture drawers with rub on transfers from Redesign by Prima


What about the beautiful blue color and those gold spray painted drawer pulls. Add to that the Patchwork design transfer and the desk is a stunner. I’ll share all the details with you plus today is Furniture Fixer Upper Day and you know what that means.

vintage furniture to paint

I bought the desk at auction for $45. I’m having a difficult time finding furniture to paint but I sometimes am able to pick up an inexpensive piece or two at this local online auction.

decorate furniture with rub on transfers


The desk looks totally different now. I will probably get a few comments on Facebook about how I shouldn’t paint wood furniture but I’m immune to those comments. There was a time when they bothered me but I’m over it. If you guys are regular PJ readers you know I paint furniture and that’s why you’re here.

remove drawr pulls before painting furniture

The first thing to do with any furniture projects is to remove the drawer pulls and any other hardware. I try to corral the pulls in a bag, box, or maybe an empty Frogtape container. You will need to keep up with the knobs or pulls if you are going to put them back on the piece. In this case I’m going to paint and use them. There are a few missing pieces so I will be using wood knobs on the top drawers.

prep furniture drawers for painting with painters Frogtape

Next I put painters tape over the drawer pull screw holes on the inside of the drawers to prevent paint seepage and then ran a length of FrogTape down the drawer sides so I would have a nice clean paint line.

Beyond Paint Navy color for painting furniture

My paint choice for the desk is Beyond Paint, color Navy. I’ve used this paint color before and to me the color is closer to a deep, rich, royal blue than navy.

painting furniture drawers

The Beyond Paint covers really well and the sheen is just right, somewhere between satin and flat. That’s the best way I can describe it.

the best way to paint a desk

Painting desks can be a bear. It helps me to lay the desk on it’s back when painting the inside open area where the chair goes. By the way, I’m on the hunt for a chair to match the desk but it’s hard to find one to fit the style of the desk. When I do find the perfect chair I plan to spray paint it gold to match the drawer pulls.

Re-Design with Prima Furniture Transfers Patchwork and Boho rub on transfers

Now that the desk is painted we’re moving on to the Re-Design with Prima rub on transfers. I bought two of the decor transfers at the shop where I have a booth several months ago. Just didn’t have a furniture project for them at that time. I looked at both transfers and decided the Patchwork transfer was best for the desk since I was only using it on three small drawers. The Boho Gypsie design was too big and I didn’t want to cut the beautiful design into pieces. I’ll find a special piece of furniture for the Boho transfer.

Re-Design by Prima Patchwork rub on transfers

There were several pieces to the transfer in the tube along with instructions and a transfer tool (wood piece) to use when rubbing the transfer onto the furniture surface.

how to prepare rub on furniture transfers for desk makeover

I measured the length and width of each top drawer (3 total) and cut a piece of the transfer design to size adding about 1/4 inch extra to the depth and the width measurements of each piece. You should never run short!

how to work with a furniture transfer

The white backing paper on the transfer just peels away easily. That is the first step in putting the transfer on the furniture.

tutorial on furniture transfers

Next I laid the transfer on the drawer surface and rubbed my hand over and over the design until I thought is was all adhered to the drawer.

use a wood tool to rub on design transfers for furniture

Then I ran the transfer tool over the edges of the drawer several times to make sure the transfer adhered to the drawer and didn’t pull away with the clear plastic piece. What you are basically doing is transferring the floral design from the clear plastic piece to the drawer. The sticky side of the transfer was adhered to the white backing paper.

how to use furniture transfers

After I rubbed and rubbed on the transfer adhering it to the drawer front I pulled the clear plastic piece away. Worked perfectly. The drawer front was completely covered with the transfer. The 4 sides of the drawer front had excess paper where I cut the transfer a little big. I just pressed those pieces firmly to the bottom, sides, and top of the drawer front.Minwax clear gloss sealer (2)


I’m telling you guys that transfer design is tinier than tissue thin. It is very fragile. I read that it’s not necessary to seal the transfer but I decided it was necessary for me to seal this one. I used Minwax Polycrylic with a clear gloss finish (find here on Amazon). When I peeled the clear plastic cover from the transfer it looked a little flat so the gloss sealer brightened up the colors.

Ruistoleum metallic gold spray paint

Now all I had to do was come up with knobs for the top drawers since some of the original drawer pulls were missing. I found 8 wood knobs in my stash and spray painted them along with the drawer pulls for the bottom drawers with Rust-Oleum Metallic gold spray paint (find on Amazon here).

Paint a desk and decorate with furniture transfers



The gold color is soooooo bright. I just love it. The metallic gold pops against the deep blue of the desk. At one time I really got offended when I saw someone use knobs in place of drawer pulls. To me the two knobs side by side always looked weird. I still think they look weird but in a good way. What do you think of substituting a drawer pull with two knobs?

decorate furniture with rub on transfers


The first decision about the desk makeover was using the transfer. The next decision was choosing a paint color that matched a color in the transfer. I checked my paint shelves for blue paints. The Beyond Paint Navy was the perfect color. I forgot to mention that I had one partially used jar of the paint and it was a small jar, the pint size. I still had paint leftover after this project. Not enough to paint a piece of furniture but maybe some photo frames or small home decor accessories.

Paint a desk and add rub on transfers to the drawers
Paint a desk and add rub on transfers to the drawers.


The transfer and gold accents take this piece from pretty to dramatic. Now that I know the transfers are not hard to work with I will probably being doing more of them. How do you guys like the transfers? if you spend any time at all on Pinterest you have seen a lot of painted furniture with rub on transfer designs.

Please leave a comment if you have a little extra time before you take off on the Furniture Fixer Upper Tour. Just click the text links below the “before” makeovers photo collage for the tour….

how to paint furniture from the furniture fixer upper girls

Furniture Fixer Upper Tour:

How To Use Sea Spray – Confessions of a Serial DIY’er
Painted And Stained Dresser – Salvaged Inspirations
Glazing Furniture – Girl In The Garage
Decorate Furniture Drawers With Rub On Transfers – Petticoat Junktion (you are here)

before and after furniture makeover with paint and furniture decor transfers
before and after furniture makeover with paint and furniture decor transfers

As always, thanks for being here, Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I love everything about the desk except the transfer. I especially love the paint color. Glad I have another paint color option.

  2. I just want to say I think you are amazing and so inspirational! I envy the visions you have and the time you have to bring them to life!

  3. You finally tried a transfer! 🙂 And this one looks perfect with the blue and gold. Great save, Kathy! xo

  4. Now that you’ve used a transfer, you’ll want to use them all the time ha ha! They are such a great way to add drama to a piece, and this one looks fantastic! XOXO

  5. Kathy, the desk is stunning! I am not a person who likes to live with really bright colors like the blue, but for someone who does I can imagine it being a real statement piece. You would have to know how to balance out the strong colors with other items in a room’s decor but it could really add a bit of drama!

    I am really anxious to try some of those transfers. I don’t have much room to work so it would have to be on something small but they look so easy and the results is quite spectacular, I think. Casting around in my mind and my “stash” for a piece that I could try one on.

    Thanks for showing your process on this makeover!

  6. The desk transformation is amazing! Great job.
    Re the chair: Any time you want to paint something gold, it’s a good idea to first paint the surface red and let it dry completely. For some reason, this really makes a difference. Maybe it’s because everything is energy, and the energy of red enhances the gold. Likewise, a blue undercoat makes silver look more realistic; teal green is good under copper.

  7. Hey Kathy,
    Love how you made over the desk. Love everything except the row of double knobs. I would have centered the knobs for each drawer or found a similar drawer pull to use; because, functionally, the double knobs seem to be too far apart to grab both of them to open a drawer. No one uses two hands to grab knobs for opening a small drawer and might it open a bit lopsided when tugging on one knob? Just a thought.

  8. I have wanted to try transfers in the past but been too nervous of it. Your piece looks fabulous and I feel emboldened to have a try myself after this! Having your tips gives me that extra bit of confidence too, thanks Kathy.

  9. Stunning! Colors are wonderful. Love the double knows! Shame you don’t live closer. I have a huge pole barn and a garage full of furniture. I’ll never get it all done! 🙂

  10. I love everything about this… the colour, you matched it perfect with the transfer and I like the contrast between the wood nobs and the pulls. The gold makes the desk sing!!!