Thursday, December 31, 2009

Morocco meets traditional - tile deception

When I married my husband he brought into the marriage this old, beat-up traditional style coffee table that had been given to him by someone who didn't want it anymore. It had stains, scratches and was generally ugly - but it had great traditional lines with lovely curved legs. Of course I had a plan for it right from the start but knowing all the sanding that had to be happening before I got to the fun part it took me about 4 years to get to it. In retrospect it would probably have been a lot easier to strip it, but we were living in an apartment at the time and I happened to have a sander handy so it ended up being a long road...
My original plan was to put mosaic tiles on it but as time passed and the budget never seemed to allow for tile purchases my plans changed. I thought about maybe a broken tile mosaic but since I wanted a nice intense blue color that would have ended up costing too much. And honestly, the thought of all the supplies I would have to get and all the work I had to go through to pull that off made me tired.
Decoupage is a favorite of mine because it's cheap, it's easy and you can get really good results with not a lot of investment - my kind of project :)
I knew I wanted a Moroccan feel to the table so I went online to find a picture of a tile that I liked, I think mine came from Flickr but my memory is kind of fuzzy on that one (this was over a year ago). Altered the pic slightly in Photoshop, adjusted the colors to my liking, added some brown shading to the edges of the pic to simulate age and grout, printed out about a gazillion copies of it on my printer, cut out the tile images and was then ready to get to work.
Here's a pic of the table after the makeover (I don't have any befores, sorry!).

I really wanted a dark brown/ebony type stain on the exposed wood parts but couldn't find anything like that when I was out shopping so I settled for next best, a dark brown with a reddish tint to it. At least it contrasts nicely with the blue :)
I did one coat of stain on all parts of the table and then a second coat on the parts that weren't going to be decoupaged. I really should have sanded the whole table after the first coat but I'm Miss Impatient so now some parts of the table feel pretty rough. (I also didn't want to spend too much time and effort on this table because my kids are constantly climbing and hopping, drooling and banging on it, it has already lost two legs once that I reattached as best I could but my point is I don't know how long this poor table is going to survive. So far so good, though :) )

I found the midpoint of the table to help me "tile" on the diagonal and went to town with my Mod Podge. First one layer on the table, add tiles, then another layer of Mod Podge on top. I may have gone over the whole table another time for good measure. It was really easy and fast once I got started, I left a tiny gap between "tiles" to help simulate grout lines and just filled in one section at a time until the whole table was done. I trimmed the tiles overhanging the edge after I was done. And then a few layers of a spray-on glaze to give some shine to the table as well as protect the paper.



Computer printed images will smear when they get wet but I've found that if you don't linger with the Mod Podge over one spot but brush it on as swiftly as you can it really works out just fine. There may be a slight bleeding of color but it's so insignificant that you really can't tell other than the stuff on your brush has a slight tint on it after you've passed over the image. I've done several computer printed decoupage projects and never had a problem, even when there was a lot of white combined with strong colors involved. If you add more layers of Mod Podge over the first one you need to let the first layer dry a bit or the paper will bleed too much and eventually turn to mush. I mushed up an area or two but if you don't know where they are you won't notice :)
I was actually really happy with the outcome of this Moroccan/traditional project, and surprisingly it has held up to over 9 months of kid abuse by now without any signs of damage. And I'm talking serious abuse, think smeared chocolate, spilled juice, sticky fingers or any other disgusting small kid activity your mind can come up with. I just mop it up and the table is ready for round 2 (or 1002..). Now, if only the carpet could be just as resilient....
Visitors just assume the table has been tiled until they get really up close. Since I left a gap between the tiles there's this little indentation for the grout line that really helps sell the illusion.
Since it looks good, is cheap and easy - who needs the real thing?

I have a few pics in my idea file on what to do with this tile illusion. I found a duplicate of this one online, it's originally from Cottage Living's 2008 Idea house (the magazine doesn't exist anymore).

If I had any stairs in my house I would definitely try this idea with my fake tiles. But just about anywhere you would normally use tiles my fake tiles could be used, you just need to make sure to coat them with something really heavy duty to protect the paper. A floor, an outdoor table top, you name it.

I found these pics of some gorgeous Moroccan type tiles, just for inspiration.

And here it is "in action".

Both pics from Just Morocco, they have some seriously swoon-worthy stuff on their web site
(you just need some serious cash to be able to afford it).

The main crux with this fake tiling idea is finding a high resolution pic to use. Flickr and similar sites usually give me what I want, or at least an ok compromise. But you could also consider scanning pics from library books or catalogs or buying just one tile and scanning it. Use your imagination :) Any pattern could be turned into a tile - how about scanning a section of a pretty thrift store clothing find? I could go on and on but I'll leave you with these ideas as well as my best wishes for the new year!

Ps. I'm linking this post to the below parties.

Shanty 2 Chic

Blue Cricket Design
Beyond The Picket Fence

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  1. Ooh, thanks for stopping by Amy! And for leaving such a nice comment :)

  2. What a wonderful idea. I never would have thought of using pictures this way. Kudo's to you.

  3. You have some serious skills!! The table had to take some time, and patience. I have two furniture projects that I am going to use Mod Podge for, but based on my experience so far with it on much smaller projects, I am leery. Your table looks beautiful!

  4. Okay, I am definitely going to try this! I'm much better with Mod Podge than I am with grout and tile adhesive!

  5. I think your project is amazing!

  6. Your table is truly amazing! What an adventurous spirit you have to take on such a project! ~Kelly

    unDeniably Domestic

  7. One quick tip. If you are worried about images from the printer smearing, spray it with a couple of light coats of fixative. I am a miniaturist and use all kinds of images from the computer. I use Patricia Nimock's Matte or Gloss spray fixative. You can get it at any craft store. Even some Walmarts carry it.

  8. oh my gosh that looks sooo awsome! I was thinking about doing something like that with my old kitchen table now I have some even better ideas Thanks so much!!!

  9. Love it --gotta find something that I can try this wonderful idea on. Super idea & that table looks wonderful!!

  10. It's gorgeous, and I would definitely try it, but I have to get my Mod Podge skills up to snuff first. I'm only a beginner.

  11. awesome, just found your site, love the decoupage tile!

  12. This is so awesome! Sorry I'm so late to chime in but... one question: How did you acheive the nice red grout look? Was that part of your tile image or did you apply afterwards? Thanks so much for the inspiration :)

    Also, while here, I and others might be curious to hear a longer-term update. How did your surface hold up to continued abuse? I've been looking at decoupage floor how-tos that use a polyurethane top coat. Think that's worth the added time, effort and expense?


I really appreciate you taking the time to comment because I know you didn't have to. Additional ideas or related techniques are always welcome, the more we brainstorm the better all of our end products will be.
While I try to answer all comments I sometimes don't make it or have your contact info. If you don't hear back from me it doesn't mean I hate you, I just ran out of time (or simply had no way of contacting you).
I wish you a great day!

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